‘Sin City: A Dame to Kill For’ Review

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Dir: Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez

Cast: Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba, Josh Brolin, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Rosario Dawson, Bruce Willis, Eva Green, Powers Boothe, Dennis Haysbert, Christopher Meloni, Jeremy Piven, Ray Liotta, Jaime King, Juno Temple, and Christopher Lloyd

Synopsis: Some of Sin City’s most hard-boiled citizens cross paths with a few of its more reviled inhabitants

 

 

 

*Reviewer Note:  This will be a spoiler free review*

 

 

It’s been almost ten years since Sin City came out, and at the time the movie made some bold statements. The film followed the graphic novels so close that it felt like we were watching the novel coming to life. It also took a huge leap, technology wise, in using green screen for just about the majority of making the film. The first Sin City was almost beloved by everyone, and everyone asked, where’s our sequel? Well, flash forward to now and we have Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, a prequel and sequel with the same set up as the first. A noir, over-the-top violent, narration and sexy story with four intertwined stories based in a city that will eat you up and spit you back out. But the question is if it’s any good. Well, sadly A Dame to Kill For hits all the same beats from the first, but it’s a little late for a sequel.

 

Like the first film, A Dame to Kill For features three stories that take place in Basin City – I mean Sin City. One features Johnny (Gordon-Levitt), a gambler who looks like he doesn’t think things through. Nancy (Alba) who is still stripping but is aiming for revenge for the death of Hartigan (Willis), and then the “Dame to Kill For” story that follows the “Dame” Ava Lord (Green) and Dwight (Brolin) trying to kill each other. While all the stories have their elements, they pretty much share two things in common, Senator Roark (Boothe) and Marv (Rourke).

 

Like I stated before, the movie is intertwined with these three stories and some of the transitions are a bit clucky and murky but the story that obviously takes up most of the screen time (and the middle) is the Ava and Dwight story. The story sometimes feels like a soap opera, but it feels deliberately and connects a bit to the noir theme but lucky Green, Rourke, and Dennis Haysbert as Manute (taking over after Michael Clarke Duncan’s passing) performances save, the otherwise, slightly more than average story. Which is a shame, since the story is probably one of the most famous and favorite stories from the graphic novels (next to Hell and Back).

 

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Brolin is okay as the pre-surgical Dwight. He brings his usual gruffness to the role and has a couple of standout moments but the segment belongs to Eva Green (which I’ll get to). Christopher Meloni and Jeremy Piven play cops Mort and Bob respectively but Meloni gets the better role of the two, in what turns out to be a weird and maybe unnecessary arc that really goes nowhere and is only there to show how powerful Ava Lord is. Mickey Rourke, who pops up as Marv throughout the movie, has his strongest outing during this part, as does Haysbert as Manute who comes off as a powerhouse, and seeing the two fight each other was pretty cool.

 

But like I said, this story and maybe the movie, belongs to Eva Green. I’m a fan of Green and not because she’s nice to look at, but because she brings something different to every role and although her character is a typical femme fatale, Green does her best to make Ava her own. However, if guys need another reason to watch the movie, you’d probably like to know that Green has the least amount of wardrobe than any character, maybe ever.

 

Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Johnny story is rather interesting. Gordon-Levitt brings his usual charm and makes Johnny a pretty likeable character. Although, it’s not that hard considering he’s surrounded by crooked cops and dirty senators playing poker in the back of a strip joint. But, Johnny’s story is really here for two reasons; to show how Sin City works, who runs it, and brutal it can be, and to show how viscous Senator Roark is. Other than that and a cameo by Christopher Lloyd as a “doctor” the story really serves no other purpose that prove Sin City is not a city you want to live in.

 

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The final segment is Nancy’s story. Alba’s Nancy is more matured in a sense; she’s still a stripper but now heavily drinks before, during, and after performing. All she wants is to kill Boothe’s Roark for driving Hartigan to kill himself so she can live. Bruce Willis pops in as a spirit for the lack of a better word, following Nancy and sees how hard it has been for her since he’s left. Alba is okay as the tortured soul but Powers Boothe as the villainous Senator Roark is great, but Boothe is always great as villain, but at least he has more to do than the first Sin City.

 

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While it might sound like I didn’t like the movie, A Dame to Kill For does have some cool moments. The whole movie is filled with essentially cool screensavers and some great performances by Green, Boothe, Gordon-Levitt, and Rourke. The fight between Marv and Manute was cool to see and could have been bland if it wasn’t for one particular instance. Then there is Miho, played by Jaime Chung who replaces Devon Aoki (because she was pregnant), who basically glides around with samurai swords and a bow-and-arrow and kills anybody that she looks at because, why not.

 

All in all, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is more or less of the same as Sin City. Whether that is a good thing is completely up to you when you watch it. I for one, didn’t mind the sequel, but considering we waited soo long for it, it lost some of its charm and effect on me, and it was kind of boring sometimes.

 

 

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

3.5 out of 5

‘The Wolverine’ Review

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Dir: James Mangold (Walk the Line, 3:10 to Yuma)

Cast: Hugh Jackman, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima, Hiroyuki Sanada, Hal Yamanouchi, Svetlana Khodchenkova, Will Yun Lee and Famke Janssen

Synopsis: Summoned to Japan by an old acquaintance, Wolverine becomes embroiled in a conflict that forces him to confront his own demons.

 

*Review Note: This is a non-spoiler review as always. But, I do have to say this…Stay for the credits scene, I won’t say what it’s about but it is a great scene.”

 

While some people say this is better than Origins: Wolverine, it really isn’t saying much since Origins, although having some moments wasn’t a good movie. But, it looks like the commercials are right. This is the Wolverine movie we’ve wanted, for the most part.

Jackman once again goes full in, embracing the character that fans fell in love with in the pages of the X-Men comics or the movies if that was your first encounter with him. But, you also have to give credit to James Mangold and his screenwriters smartly avoid the clutter of mutants, like Origins, and just make the movie about Logan. The movie is inspired by the famous Japan story-arc in the comics but is also a continuation of the X-Men film series serving as a some-what sequel to The Last Stand but is a separate adventure as well.

When we first meet him here, Logan is living like a hermit in the Canadian wild. He is also still mourning the loss of Jean Grey (Janssen) that comes to him at times in a dream-like environment asking the question that Wolverine deals with “Why keep going?” After an encounter in a bar he meets the mysterious Yukio (Fukushima) who is there to bring Logan to Japan to say good-bye to Yashida (Yamanouchi) a man he saved during World War II. Reluctantly he accepts and soon discovers that the man wants to offer Logan an end to his immortality in return for saving his life that day. Of course Logan finds out nothing is what it really seems.

Logan eventually finds out that his healing factor is affected after being poisoned by mutant Viper (Khodchenkova) when he starts to protect Yashida’s granddaughter Mariko (Okamoto). After that we get introduced to the other characters in Mariko’s father and Yashida’s son Shingen (Sanada) and Harada (Yun Lee) who is under orders to also protect Mariko.

Like I stated before the movie is inspired from the classic Chris Claremont/Frank Miller Japan storyline from the comics. However, it does take some liberties which are welcome. Maiko isn’t necessarily a damsel-in-distress and Yukio has a bit more meat to her character. It should be noted that this is the first film for both actress’ and they did a good job with such big characters. Khodchenkova’s Viper is maybe a bit too cartoony when it comes to being a villain but considering she isn’t the main villain it’s a bit okay.

However, despite all this the movie doesn’t really become a “comic-book” movie until the third act. Not saying it’s a bad thing either. The movie sets up Logan as a haunted character dealing with this “curse” and what the effects are to that and what happens when it goes away but it also tries to play Logan as a legend in some sense. This is probably makes the movie better and puts it ahead of Origins (although again not saying much). The movie isn’t worried about connecting it back to the X-Men movies (with the expectation of Jean) or about the fate of the world, it’s only concern is Logan and his story which is fantastic to watch.

The action is also stepped up and although they are spaced apart every sequence has a something on the line. People are talking about the bullet train sequence (I had my doubts about it in the beginning) which is pretty cool and maybe to some a bit cartoonish but it still works. Also for those wanting blood on the claws you can finally put that aside.

All in all, The Wolverine has finally given us a movie where we see the Wolverine that we all love. Jackman has truly made the character his own in every way and I feel for the person who has to take over after Jackman leaves. Filled with action, humor, and a love story The Wolverine is what I hope for in future installments.

 

The Wolverine

4.5 out of 5