Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For photo starrating-1star.jpgIn 1917 artist Marcel Duchamp took a readymade porcelain urinal signed it “R.Mutt” and submitted it for exhibition at the Society of Independent Artists. It was a controversial idea whose influence is still discussed today. Now I’m not here to take Duchamp to task for his questionable objet d’art. Nevertheless it would seem to me that beneath this move there had to exist at least a modicum of contempt either for art or the audience or both. As I sat watching Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, this idea filtered through my mind. Duchamp appropriated a urinal as art much in the same manner that Frank Miller appropriates film noir as a movie.

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is the disastrous sequel to 2005’s Sin City, a successful neo noir thriller. It beautifully captured the look of a comic book. A Dame to Kill For is stylistically impressive as well. But it’s so utterly bereft of substance, as to offend the basic requirements of storytelling. This perverts the very idea of entertainment.  The narrative’s fetishizing of violence and sex would be downright pernicious if it wasn‘t so ineffectual and awkward.  Miller conveys style and visual aesthetic, but not heart.  Granted, the measure of good taste is subjective. Let’s set aside the extreme level of violence for a moment. There is no story. Just a compilation of shooting, stabbing, slicing and dicing. The misdeeds strung together as a pseudo fable that goes absolutely nowhere. It’s disgusting, reprehensible, vulgar, misogynistic and every other negative word you can use in this day and age to describe something without value.

The characters are shockingly devoid of merit, especially for a drama in these “enlightened“ times. Film noir has always highlighted the femme fatale. However these women have little to do other than display their physical attributes. The narrative unrepentantly parades Jessica Alba, Eva Green Jaime King, and Juno Temple through the production like skewered selections by waiters at a Brazilian BBQ. Women are either prostitutes, strippers, or evil temptresses.  At least one gets to be a good luck charm. Rosario Dawson literally wears what looks like metal saucepan lids over her breasts in one scene. Jamie Chung doesn’t even get to speak. Oh but she displays her knife wielding skills. Can I re-emphasize the violence? The unending obliteration of human beings is gruesome. It’s like watching a chef at Benihana chop up various meats and vegetables for 102 minutes and then calling it a drama. The men aren’t any more carefully drawn either. Their lack of humanity is disheartening. These guys are rotten to the core. Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character is just a body to destroy. He serves no purpose. For the first 10 minutes, I marveled at the visual style. It’s remarkable, but soon after the ugliness beneath the production seeps through and overstays its welcome fast.

08-27-14

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24 Responses to “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For”

  1. Bummer 😦 Great review, though.

  2. Good review Mark. Had a fun time with this every once in a blue moon, but honestly, not as much as I would have liked.

  3. Oh man I was kind of looking forward to this and had it on my most anticipated list last year before it got a new release date haha. Great review, I’ll definitely pass on this in the theatres.

  4. There’s no denying this movie was an ugly mess. At first the $6.4 mill opening weekend shocked me but after thinking for a little bit on it and seeing myself, eh. Yeah. Okay, it’s definitely a shadow of its former self.

    Great review man

    P.S. Also, forgot to mention, the All State insurance guy was. . .well, that was just funny. What a ridiculous movie.

  5. Wow, this is the first review I read of it and this sounds really disappointing. But you did like the original?

  6. Completely agree with you on this one. There really is no story; I felt like it was all over the place. An 1.5 hour movie should seem short, but this dragged forever…terrible editing and sequencing. What a disappointment.

    • You’re right, 102 minutes isn’t long. Here’s the thing. These days there are so many darn trailers and ads before the movie, even short movies drag on for a minimum of 2 hours.

  7. Comparing this to “Fountain”! Now I’m intrigued. Love your review here.

  8. I liked this film more than you did, but I appreciate your analogies to Deschamp’s urinal and Benihana’s slicing. Both are very amusing. I would agree that the movie doesn’t treat the female characters with much respect or give them anything interesting to do. However I would argue that Eva Green’s character is interesting because she uses sex as a weapon to manipulate men into doing her dirty deeds. That said, they go totally overboard with her nudity. The stories this time around are not nearly as engaging and they’re strung together strangely.

    • You’re not the first person to praise Eva Green in this. I found her acting kind of stilted but then the whole movie was kind of exaggerated so I’m guessing that was on purpose.

      She is a beautiful actress that rarely gets material that seems worthy of her. Casino Royale (2006) is one exception.

  9. This is a great review of one of the worst films I’ve seen in quite some time. I love Sin City, and watching this, I couldn’t believe how far things had fallen. You touched on all the major problems I had with the movie (what the hell WAS the purpose of JGL’s character), and then some. What a sad film this was.

  10. Chose this movie at the last minute, based on a recommendation of the ticket taker. Bad decision. Movie looked awesome, just like part one, but was so bad. They tried to incorporate too many stories that were just dumb. I was waiting for this to be over. 1 star.

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