Thursday, 30 April 2015

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014)




















Holy silhouettes the sequel finally arrives, a cool nine years after the original hit. A direct sequel that follows on from the original with all the characters we know and love, two stories from the original comic/graphic novel, and for some reason two entirely new stories. This time Tarantino does not direct anything leaving it to Rodriguez and Miller, whilst Rodriguez leaves the writing entirely to Miller...if any of that matters or you're interested.

The movie is a jumbled mix of both sequel and prequel storylines which hark back before the original movie whilst tying up loose ends. The first tale called 'Just Another Saturday Night' follows on with the deeds of Marv who still looks out for Nancy. A very brief introduction which merely showcases Marv taking down some punk frat boys in his old neighbourhood.

'The Long Bad Night' is the first new tale which sees the young cocky card shark Johnny taking on his corrupt father (Senator Roark) at cards and beating him badly. He is warned to flee the city but shrugs this threat off and goes out on the town with his new blonde floozy Marcie. Roark and his goons catch up with him, severely beat him, take back their money and dump him.

'A Dame to Kill For' is a prequel that is set before the original story 'The Big Fat Kill' in the first movie. It shows Dwight as a private eye, trying to be a decent man, but is lured back to the dark side by the rich and sexy Ava Lord. Basically Ava wants Dwight to kill off her rich husband so she can claim all his fortune, naturally lots of double dealing, back stabbing and trickery ensues.

'Nancy's Last Dance' is the second movie exclusive tale which is set four years after 'That Yellow Bastard'. Nancy is still suffering from depression after Hartigan killed himself back in the first flick. Eventually sick of suffering in silence she asks (tricks) Marv into helping her kill Roark, her thirst for revenge must be quenched.

So this is Sin City and we all know what to expect after the fantastic original movie back in 2005. Naturally this sequel gives you exactly what you crave with slightly bigger doses. The visuals are of course the movies selling point and they don't disappoint with those gorgeous bleak black and white comicbook-esque panel shots, the only things missing are the speech bubbles and text. Everything is once again mainly cast in shadow and silhouettes with only the odd hint of colour from various items, objects or body part. So amidst the bold stark blacks, whites and grey scale you might see a bright red classic car, or a splattering of red blood, or a pair of green eyes or a red item of clothing, red being the popular colour used more often. But seriously I don't need to talk much about the visuals, you all know why this franchise looks so lush, well wash rinse and repeat here, but that's a good thing.



The small short stories are also just as good as before (they should be seeing as they are continuations) offering some great interweaving plots. The fact that we get a prequel mixed in along with the sequels/present day stories was a surprise to me, not being a fanboy of the franchise, and I liked that. At first I found myself struggling to figure out what was going on and this did require me to do a bit of quickfire homework on the older stories from the first movie, but once I had gotten my head around all the U-turns and twists I found myself enjoying it.

I think the problems with this movie stem from the fact its been so long since the first movie. People's enthusiasm has understandably died down since 2005, not because the franchise is no longer any good but because the first movie was such a fresh and original blast which hadn't really been seen before. The visuals were amazing to see back in 05, a real graphic novel/comic come to life! of course since then special effects have improved and this visual style no longer has the wow factor it once did.
The space between movies has also meant casting no longer retains continuity unfortunately. Most of the main characters are played by the same stars but many are not. Manute is now played by Dennis Haysbert who really can't and doesn't hold a candle to Michael Clarke Duncan, Bob is played by Jeremy Piven instead of Michael Madsen and Miho is no longer played by Devon Aoki. While this isn't the end of the world and most of the other players are still present and correct it did let the film down in my opinion. Had this not taken so long to be made then I'm confident the cast would have remained the same 100% which always feels better. Honesty I have always hated it when they recast a character for a sequel, even if it works, I just prefer continuity.



Not knowing anything about the original yarn, at first I thought the casting of Brolin as Dwight was a horrendous cock-up because he looked nothing like Clive Owen. I have of course since found out his character origins and now know the character was suppose to look completely different for the prequel story. Alas the change of casting still has a negative effect because when we see the new Dwight with his new face that is suppose to be the face we know from the first film, it very obviously looks nothing like Owen.

Speaking of the cast I must also add that I really don't understand why the awful looking Ava Green was cast in this, I'm guessing mainly for her period looking looks (the 50's). People are saying she can act but I just don't see it, plus I really don't find her attractive with her many body moles yeesh! I preferred the original choices of Selma Hayek and Rose McGowan.

Even though I did enjoy the movie for the most part some things still did bother me, much like the first movie. As we get towards the climatic finale the action does become even more outrageous and reality bending. In fact much of the violence in this movie is like that, yes I realise its a comicbook flick adaptation but the thing I did like about this franchise (other than the sweetass visuals) was the fact the violence in general was gritty and semi-realistic (at first at least). Unfortunately both movies do descent into ridiculous action mode much like 'Kick-Ass' and other Rodriguez nonsense 'Machete'. Rodriguez's violent action style is very clear and in all honesty I don't like it for the most part, it has its place and can work but too much of it is not good and he uses it in virtually everything he does.

This movie didn't quite have the same sense of grandness or scale that the first movie had, the cast isn't quite as impressive either, but I don't think it was ever gonna beat the first one. It tries to be sexy but in my opinion comes across as terribly vanilla half the time with laughable, apparently sexy outfits for the ladies and some rather limp strip club dancing to boot (what's sexy about a girl in cowboy attire?). Easily picks up top marks for artistic style and sticking to its adult orientated guns (always a plus these days). I love the trashy seediness, the period setting and some of the characters, although the excellent main score from the first movie is missed greatly. Its cold, its kinky and its dark, all agreeable ingredients which in my humble opinion gave us a reasonably solid followup.

7/10