Sin City 2: A Dame to Kill For


DIR: Robert Rodriguez, Frank Miller • WRI: Elan Mastai • PRO: Sergei Bespalov, Aaron Kaufman, Stephen L’Heureux, Mark C. Manuel, Robert Rodriguez • ED: Robert Rodriguez • DOP: Robert Rodriguez  DES: Caylah Eddleblute Steve Joyner  MUS; Robert Rodriguez, Carl Thiel • Cast: Jessica Alba, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis

Released just under a decade since their first foray into the fully-digital world of Sin City, creator Frank Miller and director Robert Rodriguez continue their buddying up to the realm of neo-noir graphic-filming with a new chapter.  Anticipation was high for this one: with so much time to work on a sequel to such a well-received original, it seemed like the combination of Rodriguez’ dedication to the adaptation and Miller’s stellar source material could do no wrong.


Unfortunately for all involved, the length of time between the ground-breaking first and pretty-similar second hasn’t actually helped the cause.  When Sin City burst on the scene in 2005 with all the brilliance of something fresh, it looked and felt like a new era of cinema. Digital filming showed its unique possibilities, and manipulation of colour and bleached setups did the impossible in bringing a graphic novel to full visual realisation onscreen.  Most importantly, the stories, characters and actors were captivating from the get-go.  A Dame to Kill For does suffer somewhat, then, from comparison to the first – a constant challenge for sequels of all types, but perhaps most particularly for movies with a distinctive storytelling technique. All the notes of cheesiness, brutality and hyper-masculinity are in place as before, but somehow it never quite engages.


Most of the fault lies with the chosen storylines, but the actors must also take responsibility.  While notables like Jessica Alba (Nancy) and Mickey Rourke (Marv) reprise their roles, it is with visibly less enthusiasm, or perhaps too much awareness of the undercurrent of ‘coolness’ attached to their characters.  Newcomer Joseph Gordon-Levitt promises much, delivers some, but fades into the background far too quickly to really get a grip on him – unfortunate for an actor who generally performs.  Taking over Dwight’s old face is Josh Brolin, whose B-movie credentials should make him a perfect insert for Sin City’s palette.  He gamely attacks the storyline of A Dame to Kill For, battling the raw sexuality of Eva Green’s Ava, but his monotonous narration is probably one of the worst things about the movie.  Surprisingly, this instalment takes the power away from its women and wallows in some pretty boring damsel-in-distress tableaus…Ava is the only female character to really grab the moment and terrorise the screen, which is especially shocking considering Gail (Rosario Dawson) makes an appearance.  One of the finest fighters in Old Town, Gail has always kept the girls safe and police out, but in this story barely touches the significant badassery Sin City originally afforded her.  Even Nancy’s angry transformation comes too little too late, and the intertwining stories do little to alleviate the flat feeling that permeates throughout.


Perhaps more thrills might have ensued had the screening been in 3D, as there were certainly scenes that were made specifically to wow the eyes of a 3D viewer, but overall it’s undeniable that A Dame to Kill For repeats the formula of Sin City without recapturing its essence.  Visually conforming to the beauty of the first, it looks great but feels repetitive – despite some brief moments of comedy, and lovingly-portrayed grotesquery, it never quite reclaims the form’s sheer brilliance.  Walk down the right back alley in Sin City and you can find anything…except, it would seem, an original addition to the legacy.


Sarah Griffin

16 (See IFCO for details)

102 minutes

Sin City 2: A Dame to Kill For is released 25th August

Sin City 2: A Dame to Kill For –  Official Website


Cinema Review: Immortals

DIR: Tarsem Singh • WRI : Charley Parlapanides, Vlas Parlapanides • PRO: Mark Canton, Ryan Kavanaugh , Gianni Nunnari • DOP: Brendan Galvin • ED: Wyatt Jones, Stuart Levy • DES: Tom Foden • CAST: Henry Cavill, Mickey Rourke, John Hurt

Pretty Violent…

Not only is this an expression that succinctly describes Tarsem Singh’s third directorial feature, they are the twin graces which save Immortals from the halls of mediocrity. That’s not to say Henry Cavill’s performance as Theseus is poor, or the writing penned by new scribes Vlas and Charley Parlapanides is feeble. Immortals simply falls victim to the same curse afflicting so many of these mythological epics, in that it’s often painfully derivative.

It’s the discourse, rather than the bog standard fetch quest plotting that offends most. Everyone, even Mickey Rourke’s generic-if-refreshingly-nuts Hyperion struggles with awkward lines. Still, while Cavill’s perma-scowl bodes well for 2013’s Man of Steel, supporting characters Luke Evans, Frieda Pinto and Steven Dorff (remember him?) are more than capable of holding audience attention. Again, the narrative and dialogue are bearable. It’s just a titanic shame a hero as invigoratingly bloodthirsty as Theseus lacked the wit, or task, befitting his exceptionally aggressive psyche.

This imaginative drought contrasts quite spectacularly with the films audio, and to a much, MUCH greater degree, its visual aesthetic. Tarsem is known for his unique visual flair. And though Immortals is decidedly mainstream, compared to former efforts The Cell and The Fall, almost every shot wrestles attention from the senses. Be it a rising tidal wave, or a shattered mountain, a salty desert, thunderstruck skyline or exploding head, Immortals should wake us up to the fact Zach Snyder isn’t the only one with an eye for breathtaking vistas.

Nor is he the only one who appreciates the importance of proper action. Lamentably, Immortals is not as action-packed as its marketing material suggests and could stand to gain another well-choreographed divine clash. However, for the majority of sequences, the action is meticulously designed, inventive, sports an otherworldly flair and is appropriately, inventively brutal. And unlike too many would be action films, Immortals peaks at the finale. Once the Gods finally descend, clad in gold armour, their weapons swung with time-bending speed, your eyes will gorge themselves on 2011’s most visually magnificent action scene! Though the BBFC cut our theatrical version, there’s ample decapitation, impalement, dismemberment and miscellaneous bone crunching to see even the most demanding action fan gratified.

As a whole, Immortals finds an agreeable middle ground between not being the pinnacle of the Legendary Epic genre it might have been, and having the courtesy to utterly smash our admittedly reserved expectations.Though iconic visuals and savage brawling will leave most with severe mouth foam, Immortals cannot quite match the style and swagger 300 deftly managed back in 2006. But lay your minds at ease, as mythic yarns go, Tarsem’s Immortals tramples 2010’s Clash of the Titans into the mud.

Jack McGlynn

Rated 15A (see IFCO website for details)
Immortals is released on 11th November 2011

Immortals– Official Website