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A Dame to Kill For

sin-city-2-iconNow I came into this movie having watched the previous Sin City movie the week before and I wasn’t that much of a fan of it. Yes as much as I praise the comics Batman Year 1 and the Dark Knight Returns I’m not that much of a fan of Frank Miller’s writing style and that movie did nothing to change my opinion. So when I went in to the cinema to see this one I was coming from the perspective of someone who didn’t really enjoy the first one. Though there were points I enjoyed in the first one and I was hoping it would improve upon the issues I had. While I’m happy to say it definitely did improve on a few levels and I do actually prefer this film to its predecessor.

For starters this film once again does have an excellent visual style. The Directors Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller who co-directed this film definitely put a lot of effort into making the comic come to life. Some of the shots looked like exact duplicates of panels from the comic, however, this also comes with the same issue I saw in the first film which was that sometimes the shots feel very much static and more like a motion comic rather than an actual film and anyone who knows me knows I’m not much of a fan of motion comics so this style did slightly rub me the wrong way but I definitely could see past it and while I didn’t mind the black and white visuals, especially given the fact there wasn’t too much colour contrast such as the yellow guy from the first film which really stuck out of place without any sort of explanation for why he looked like that, however, what also annoyed me was the fact I saw the film in 3D which definitely I would recommend who hadn’t seen the film yet to go and see it in 3D, this film definitely is worth the extra price for the 3D conversion, especially considering half the shots and effects aren’t made exactly for the 3D and I don’t think too many shots are going to look weird when translated to DVD, for example, the previous Judge Dredd movie from a couple of years ago.

The plot is relatively similar to the first film. Definitely taking the whole three stories that are sort of meant to slice together in one movie just following different characters which in the first film I wasn’t a fan of because I felt they didn’t give enough time to learn about the characters before we were suddenly shifted to a new one. It was essentially a case of “Hi nice to see ya, goodbye, here’s some new people”. This time the stories definitely tied together a lot better especially the Jonny and Nancy stories which both had the Senator Roark character as a binding feature and showed the progression very well of that character.

The major flaw in the plot for me was definitely the Dwight character’s plot. It wasn’t that bad per se but it definitely showed more of what makes Frank Miller’s stories a bit questionable at best and because Roark and none of the other characters played a role nor could any of the other characters that tie together the plot throughout the entire story were in it, it felt very out of place and like it should have been its own movie which further reflected the problems I had with the first film.

My favourite character overall was definitely Jonny who definitely seemed like he was a different character to any of the others that were portrayed in the first film though not in a way that he stuck out so much that you thought he didn’t belong in the movie. Because of the fact that his motivations were very clear he simply wants to beat Roark who also is a wonderful bad guy and their connection was played out very well in their story. It also helped the fact that he has been played in this film by Joseph Gordon-Levitt who is fast becoming one of my favourite actors. He is seriously outdoing himself in every role he’s in. I cannot wait to see this guy in more films. He hasn’t got much else coming out this year but I’m hoping that next year he will be used even more, making a name for himself and its roles like this which are definitely doing it.

I also would like to say that one of my big surprises in this film was Jessica Alba’s acting. I am not a Jessica Alba fan, I don’t think she can really deliver a good performance but she actually does pretty well in this role. I am really surprised by this, especially considering she had such little personality in the first film. Although I would say she doesn’t really improve or has learnt much from the first film her character had at least has a very clear motivation in this film and whilst it is very similar to Jonny’s character, she has a clear goal in place, it is reflecting what happened at the end of the first film and it is a very believable performance.

As I mentioned before another one of the great highlights is also Powers Boothe playing Senator Roark. This character was not given that much time in the first film, in fact it was basically a brief cameo in it or at least might as well have been for all the good it did but in this film you feel his presence. He is corrupt and almost feels like he is the City itself. He is definitely one of the actors that makes this movie. So from the sounds of it so far you are thinking hey I really like this movie. Well no, I’m sad to say this film did not win me over to the Sin City franchise. It definitely did a better job than its first film, that’s a definite but I’m still not fan of this style of Frank Miller’s writing. He’s a good writer, he has written some great comics in the 80s and 90s but he just can’t be seen to do it now and while this film may be better than a lot of his other recent works it’s not by much. He still suffers from his biggest issue, Frank can’t write women. In the majority of his work every woman on screen is either a prostitute, a stripper or sexualised in some fashion and in this film it’s no different. I know that is a common criticism of Miller’s writing but I can’t exactly let it pass. The only other female character in this movie was a waitress in a diner and you have no idea how weird it was in this film to finally see a normal woman on screen. In my head there was basically a fanfare going off.

The plot also has some other issues, for example, Micky Rourke once again returns to play Marv but I have no idea why he’s here! For starters his character was killed in his storyline in the first film. There is no explanation for why he’s back and alive. At least Bruce Willis returning in this film makes sense, he’s a ghost that’s meant to also be working as a spirit guide, however, this still makes no sense. It’s especially dumbfounding when you realise he plays very little of a role in the overall plot. Oh sure he’s virtually there in every story giving aid to the characters albeit a sort of a gun for hire but he doesn’t really contribute much. If he wasn’t really going to play that much of a role what was the point of bringing him back? I suspect it’s probably because Micky Rourke is such a now heavily accredited actor, especially wining several awards for his film The Wrestler but this really bothered me, especially considering the Marv character was fairly decent in the first film. The visuals also do rub me in the wrong way in certain scenes. Frank Miller’s art style has always been something I’ve never been that much of a fan of and I especially don’t think it translates that well into live action. It’s not as bad as the first film and I didn’t really notice it too bad except for later parts of Nancy’s design and Marv’s overall design throughout the film but what are you going to do, it’s there and it’s not incredibly distracting I just think it looked pretty ugly on paper and it doesn’t look any less ugly in live action.

Also, the city still feels very lifeless there’s no-one really on the street, no real landmarks, once again this was much more of a problem although it was much worse of a problem in the first film and to be fair we do get a lot more locations in this film, making it feel much more like an actual city. But it’s also really not doing much for me.

I think all the problems seemed to come to a head during the Dwight storyline. Most of what I previously mentioned is really exacerbated in this one and the whole aspect of all the characters feeling very mean spirited and it is so exacerbated here it is unbelievable. With this story character though we did have a re-casting. In the original film Dwight was played by Clive Owen. In this film he is played by Josh Brolin who may be a better choice for this sort of film but I was still not convinced. He had better motivations than the previous movie but it is still not really there. I’m not a big fan of this character and all the characters in that storyline really did rub me up the wrong way. It is also where the over-sexualisation of the female characters really played the biggest part, especially the character Ava played by Eva Green. I really hope she got paid a lot for this movie because she was essentially naked for most of the time she is on camera. I really felt like one of the major reasons this film got a rating of 18 was just down to this alone.

I also must be honest the monologue gets on my nerves so much. The first rule of film is show don’t tell. I know this is supposed to be a noir but noir films at least the monologues moved the plot along and are meant to just fill in the gaps on things we didn’t see. This one seems to monologue just about anything and definitely an aspect that was not improved from the first film. The Dwight storyline definitely was where this was most present. Come to think of it I definitely think I am bashing that plotline a lot more than the other two. Maybe that’s the reason I am probably not going to put this in my favourite films of the year.

So overall what did I think of this film? Well I definitely preferred it to the first one but I didn’t think this was a particularly good movie and it definitely is not convincing me to go back to buying Frank Miller comics or even going in to the Sin City franchise. I will say I definitely came out of this film feeling a lot better than the previous one. Mainly because it is mercifully a lot shorter than the first one and this is definitely one of the films that makes me think 3D is worth going with. Though it still only manages to be a point above the other one and I still think there have been better films that have come out this year.

If you enjoyed the first film you will definitely get a kick out of this one. If you weren’t so much of a fan I would still recommend having a go at this one as well. You will definitely get a lot more out of this film than you did the first one. Although if you haven’t seen either film I would still recommend going for the first one first as there are a lot of plot elements in this one that aren’t that well explained that carry on from the first film.

Overall, fairly decent. Surprised me because I was expecting to hate it.

Well that’s one review down for you guys. Come back on 17th September where we have a double feature. I will be reviewing both Guardians of the Galaxy and the much anticipated Lucy.

Oh and tell me what you think of the film in the comment section what’s your opinion we are a film society after all.

Calvin – Nerd Consultant

Guardians of the Galaxy Full Trailer Official:

Lucy Official International Trailer #1 (2014)


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2 comments on “Welcome to the Axia Film Society
  1. Linda Buchan says:

    i am delighted to see what I hope is the first of many reviews and the opportunity for comments

  2. Anna says:

    I’m glad you liked this film. My boyfriend went to watch this with his sister and he wasn’t very impressed so I thought I would wait until it came out on DVD (or Netflix). I enjoyed the original movie so I’m hoping I will enjoy this one too!

    I’m really looking forward to seeing your views on Guardians of the Galaxy and Lucy (both of which I have strong feelings about)!

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