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Entertainment & Lifestyle

Return trip to ‘Sin City’ not worth taking

9/4/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Craig Marks

Mickey Rourke stars in “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For.”
Photo courtesy of Dimension Films
The best thing about “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For,” directed by Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller, is its visual style, which captures the look of a pulp-noir graphic novel. It’s so successful in that respect that when I think back to particular scenes, I see in my mind pages of a comic book, not performances by flesh-and-blood actors.

What’s the next best thing about the movie? That’s a tough one, because everything else about “A Dame to Kill For” left me cold, or maybe because it’s only 102 minutes.

It could be I lack an appreciation for the genre, which takes violence to extremes and gives us female characters who are some varying degree of “floozy.” But the dreary stories, which lack twists and are short on memorable dialogue, certainly don’t help.

The movie, adapted from Miller’s graphic novel series, is a sequel to 2005’s “Sin City.” It brings us different tales of revenge, set in the bad parts of a town that may not have any good parts. Sin City, aka Basin City, is seedy and sleazy, full of strip joints patronized by lowlifes, goons and politicians who don’t even pretend to be honest. Not bothered by any of this is Marv (Mickey Rourke), who has no problem being in a town where you can get away with murder.

There are parts of Sin City that even the corrupt cops are afraid of, fearful they are of its main protector, Miho (Jamie Chung). Miho is a scantily clad ninja warrior.

But at least Miho is clad, albeit scantily. The “Dame” in the title, seductress Ava (Eva Green), is naked for much of her screen time, either skinny dipping or in a passionate embrace. One of those she embraces is gullible lug Dwight (Josh Brolin), whom Ava plays like a cheap fiddle. Dwight knows Ava is bad, but he ignores the little voice in his head. (Perhaps because that voice drones on. Dwight’s narration, as well as other characters’ narration, appears to have been done under heavy sedation. Not that you expect SpongeBob histrionics in film noir, but a little expressiveness would have been OK.)

The other stories in the movie — one involving a cocky gambler (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and the other about a vengeful exotic dancer (Jessica Alba) have not much going for them. They share an over-the-top villain, Senator Roark (Powers Boothe), and the lack of any panache beyond the visual. Maybe they work like gangbusters on the page, but they aren’t compelling on the screen.

“Dame” has not been doing much business at the box office, but there might be an audience for the movie. Film students can study its amazing visual style, comic book aficionados can debate its faithfulness to the source material and art students studying the human form can look at Eva Green. But anyone looking for an entertaining evening at the movies should see what else is playing.

The movie, currently in theaters, is rated R for strong brutal stylized violence throughout, sexual content, nudity and brief drug use.

 (out of four)

 

Craig Marks is a cartoonist and editorial, sports and entertainment writer for the West Side Leader.

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