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Home / Mint-lounge / Features /  Film Review | Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

Sin City is back, based once again on a graphic novel, and graphic therefore in every which way, but by no means as novel as it was back in 2005.

The first union between graphic novelist Frank Miller and perennial fan boy Robert Rodriguez yielded a cinematic rendition of the comic book that has rarely been matched since. Sin City jettisoned the easier route of animation in its adaptation of Miller’s starkly drawn pages and instead opted for high-contrast lighting, bold backdrops, computer-generated effects, and a processing technique that splashed dabs of colour on to black and white to place the fictional Basin City and its damned denizens on the screen.

It felt cold, gimmicky and uninvolving, especially since some of the actors had altered appearances (Benicio Del Toro for one)—but also strange, thrilling and liberating, like being left alone in a fairground full of forbidden pleasures. Some of the pleasures were strictly (and tediously) male adolescent—Naked lesbians! Dastardly deaths! Dumb hunks! Voluptuous vixens!—but ample compensation was offered by the imaginative staging of the scenes, the wry and wise dialogue, and the neo-noir archetypes and stereotypes, including men and women with soiled hands and golden hearts, sleazy politicians, perverts and prostitutes. The sequel, Sin City: A Dame To Kill For is as much a visual splendour as the first—there are some delightful plays with perspective, and more fast-paced action to justify the 3D version. There’s a bit of a reunion feel to the set of stories that interlocks just as in the first. Mickey Rourke’s pulped-face Marv is back from the electric chair in which he was supposed to have perished, ever willing to rescue a damsel in distress; Bruce Willis’ Hartigan is a ghost who has wandered in from the sets of The Sixth Sense; Jessica Alba’s vengeful stripper wants revenge for Hartigan’s death, which she plans mid-split and mid-vodka swig; Rosario Dawson’s Gail is still protecting her district Old Town with her band of leather-clad dominatrixes, revealing more cleavage than in the first one.

Missing from the movie are genuine wits like Clive Owen and Del Toro (the latter was reduced to the sum of his parts, so a comeback would have required supernatural powers). Joseph Gordon-Levitt; a gambler who takes on the vile senator Roark (Powers Booth) and Josh Brolin, the photographer who holds a candle for the temptress Ava (Eva Green), are dull additions to the cast. Their lines crackle but their personalities don’t. For the razor-sharp imagery, the 99-minute narrative lacks edge. The violence is as gratuitous as ever, but the frequent insertions of scenes of a sexual nature (a few involving nudity have been snipped out despite the “adults-only" certification) point to the fact that the material is as flimsy as Ava’s chosen mode of dress.

Sin City: A Dame To Kill For released in theatres on Friday.

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