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The long-awaited extension to the 2005 film noir homage completes a cycle of cinematic absurdity.

In May of 2005, after a very successful month at the box office, several sources received legitimate information that a sequel (and/or series) was in the works for the first cinematic production of Frank Miller’s dark graphic fiction series. Originally slated for a 2007 release date, fans have finally gotten their wish.

Like its predecessor, this sequel follows different stories involving aspects of the corrupt Basin City (lose the “Ba-” and what do you have?). The film follows another handful of stories from Miller’s comic series of the same name. Like the original, this one is also shot in black and white, with other colors mixed in from time to time. Miller once again takes the directing reins with executive producer Robert Rodriguez. Absent from this follow-up is Sin City’s “special guest director” Quentin Tarantino.

As with Sin City, an all-star cast gives life to the comic-based characters in A Dame to Kill For (what horrible grammar). Mickey Rourke, Rosario Dawson, Bruce Willis, Powers Boothe, and Jessica Alba reprise their characters from Sin City. Josh Brolin and Dennis Haysbert, respectively, fill in roles originally played by Clive Owen and the deceased Michael Clarke Duncan. The film’s namesake is portrayed by the always scintillating Eva Green. And the new kid in town with a deep-seated itch to scratch is given screen life by none other than Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Unlike the segregated plots of Sin City, A Dame to Kill For focuses mainly on the prequel-ish story featuring its title character, with snippets of a sequential timeline dispersed here and there. The script once again makes the movie feel like it is the actual page of the comic being brought to life on screen, dialogue, narration and all. Moving from the heart of Kadie’s Saloon to the affluent mansions on the outskirts of the city and back to the slums of “Old Town,” the scenery never really seems to change.

Of course the film and story’s base would not earn the name without some well warranted debauchery. Though not as gratuitously filled with brutal gore as its predecessor, A Dame to Kill For offers more than its fair share of gross out moments. The ripping of malformed genitalia is nearly one-upped by some fancy effects work involving the eye sockets of more than one character. A classic penalty for abusive gambling befalls one protagonist. Gunshots, stabs, and slashes abound, with blood spraying in red or white depending on the significance of the character. Weapons range from samurai swords to bazookas.




The movie’s R-rating is well deserved; it is not for the kids. Alcohol is present in practically every scene. Additionally, several characters drink heavily before their raged sprees. Other narcotics are present but not a focal point. Green shows absolutely no inhibitions toward nudity on screen as a philandering trophy wife, and Alba shows how well she can still move it after having two children in the interim between filming periods.

Though entertaining in parts, this film as a whole is not as much of a crowd pleaser as its original. Like so many sequels, it does not have the same flare that helped Sin City dominate the box office during its April 2005 opening weekend. Instead, this feels more like a condensed miniseries one might find on a premium cable station.

Occasionally, a guest star makes an all too brief appearance, whether it be Christopher Meloni and Jeremy Piven as beat cops, Christopher Lloyd as an shantytown surgeon, or Jaime King as the twins Goldie and Wendy. Ray Liotta and Juno Temple make what are practically cameo appearances.

Although the actors clearly do the best that they can with such a formulaic script, many of the performances are lost. While Gordon-Levitt does put his best foot forward, it’s clear that he’s put more of his skill into the performance and not enough of his heart. Rourke and Alba’s on-screen chemistry teases more than it excites for the film’s ultimate showdown. The most alluring draw of this film, and pretty much the only reason to see it, is Green, who absolutely shines regardless of how little she may be wearing.
Considering that the first Sin City was not the epic masterpiece of cinema that everyone wanted it to be, it still catered as best it could the fans’ desires. A Dame to Kill For satisfies certain interests while acknowledging the drawbacks viewers had from 2005. Unfortunately, it is still restricted to a very specific audience who may look on this as The Godfather of comic book movies, which it certainly is not.

Rodriguez and Miller would be well-advised to let the buck stop here.

Directed by: Robert Rodriguez, Frank Miller

Stars: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba, Eva Green

About The Author

Contributing Writer

Herbert M. Shaw began writing movie reviews for his high school newspaper and hasn't stopped since. In 2005, his radio program "The Shaw Report" was started with WCDB Albany 90.9 FM in Albany, New York, and lives on with online streaming at www.wcdbfm.com. In addition to film and TV reviews, Herbert also covers a variety of pop culture events surrounding technology, gaming, and the arts. He has covered every single New York Comic Con since 2006, and writes an annual Oscar prediction guide.