Watching Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

The past couple weeks have been very busy, with my picking up and moving out on my own in a new city for the first time, but I still managed to get to the theatre one last time before I did, where I saw Sin City: A Dame to Kill For by Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller. I had been personally anticipating the release of this film since the first film in 2005.

The reason for this post not being a review is that while I do have criticisms of the film that I think are valid, I have a very personal attachment to the first Sin City film that makes me judge the sequel in ways that other people probably wouldn’t.

While I thought the stories “The Big Fat Kill” and “That Yellow Bastard” in the first film were great in their own ways, “The Hard Goodbye” had an especially impactful effect on me when I first saw it. Mickey Rourke’s performance as Marv became the most influence point of reference for me when considering massive bruiser-type characters, with how he was depicted as nigh indestructible yet tragic. His day-to-day life seemed dismal and he struggled with mental illness and the effect being so violent had on how people viewed him, while at the same time was a complete badass that deeply captured my attention.

The first problem I want to address with Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is how Marv was depicted. While it may be understandable considering “The Hard Goodbye” is his final, great endeavour, I couldn’t help but feel Rourke’s performance was a parody of the last one. Not in that is was made to poke fun at the last film, but that his performance and the script was meant to mimic the style of Marv, but it lacked any of his substance. I found this to be particularly glaring in “Nancy’s Last Dance”. His representation in “Just Another Saturday Night” felt more on point, but it was short-lived as it simply opened the film the same way “The Customer is Always Right” opened the last one.

I’m not sure how valid this criticism of the film’s quality is however, because of my strong personal attachment to Marv’s character in “The Hard Goodbye” in the first movie. I feel I have such a strong personal attachment to that story specifically that it’s almost not fair to consider it of poor quality after just one viewing.

The one valid point I believe I have on the film’s merits, however, is pacing. Some may feel that the first film was too long, but I firmly disagree. Each story in the first installment had scenes and sequences that took their time and helped to build character. They were slower and took their time, helping to make the stylistic, action-packed scenes more meaningful because of how the more substantive scenes got me invested.

In Sin City: A Dame to Kill For everything felt too rushed. There are the same amount of stories taking place, yet the runtime of the film is nearly an hour shorter. As a result, it seemed to focus a lot more heavily on the action scenes that helped to push the story forward, instead of more steadily building character. I feel the film suffered from this as a result, giving it more style and less substance than the first Sin City.

Again, however, I must stress that I have such an attachment to the first film that it heavily influenced my expectations for this film. I knew I wasn’t going to get the same experience I did going in blind to the first film, but I don’t feel I quite got more of the same either. This may be due to the unfortunate fact that this sequel took a long time to come out, and delays like this can hurt a film rather than help.

More than anything else, I feel I need to see the movie again before I could ever give it a fair review. So many emotions were mixed in it for me at the time that it’s hard to pinpoint a specific feeling about it. I like it, it was still very much Sin City, but it also disappointed me. Perhaps a second viewing with all expectation now cleared away will help me to focus more on the sequels merits, though I’m fairly certain I will still at least prefer the original.


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