The original film came out way back in 2005, before the onslaught of comic book adaptations, when a time of 1:1 approximations and largely computer-generated backgrounds were something to behold. Since then, we take these things for granted. Not that there's been anything like "Sin City" in the 10 years since it's been released -- it remains something of a technical and narrative achievement, an anthology film that Xeroxed images and tableaus from the comic book almost perfectly and retained its nifty film noir style and structure.
Now, director Robert Rodriguez and co-director Frank Miller (who also wrote and drew the original comic books) are back, with "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For," which stars Eva Green (as the titular dame), Bruce Willis, Jessica Alba, Mickey Rourke, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Josh Brolin.
But is it worth it to return to "Sin City"? Or are you better off staying at home, pouring a tall glass of whiskey, and enjoying the first one all over again? Read on to find out!
1. It's Pretty Similar to the First One...
What's sort of surprising is how similar this "Sin City" installment is to the first film. Visually, it's almost identical, with one notable exception (more on that in a minute). But more than that the feel of "Sin City" -- that rainy, black-and-white gloom that is such a big part of the franchise. Mickey Rourke, back in his extensive Marv prosthetics, looks like he had just come off of the set of the first movie (ditto Jessica Alba and Bruce Willis) and the structure is almost identical, with a string of interlocking vignettes that all deal with lowlifes, criminals, femme fatales, and scumbags.
2. ... Except a Bunch of Cast Members Have Been Replaced
One of the odder elements of "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For," though, is the fact that so many characters from the original film return, but have been replaced by other actors. The most notable example of this is Josh Brolin, who takes over from Clive Owen. In the first film, someone notices that the character of Dwight has "changed his face." In the story in this "Sin City," which takes place before the events of the first film, we see a very different Dwight. (Instead of just having Clive Owen come in, though, Brolin just wears funky make-up in the final scene.) Additionally, Dennis Haysbert takes over from Michael Clarke Duncan, who passed away before filming commenced on the sequel and Jamie Chung essaying Miho (Devon Aoki played the character in the first film but couldn't return). Also, weirdly, Jeremy Piven plays a character that was played by Michael Madsen in the first film, even though that character gets killed here in a story that predates the original "Sin City." It's enough to make your head spin.
3. The 3D Is Really Terrific
"Sin City: A Dame to Kill For" co-director Robert Rodriguez has always been high on 3D. When he released "Spy Kids 3D," it predated "Avatar" and "Alice in Wonderland" in terms of being a wide-release digital 3D movie (even if you still had to wear the lame blue-and-red glasses). So when it came to applying 3D to "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For," he did so with gusto. And the results are pretty breathtaking. For the black-and-white shots, the 3D is accomplished by giving the blacks a velvety blue shimmer, when some sequences screaming to be in 3D -- like when Eva Green splashes down into a pool and Rodriguez mirrors the image. It's really something.
4. Lady Gaga Has a Cameo
Just thought you should know.
5. Eva Green Continues to Kill It
Earlier this year, Eva Green co-starred in "300: Rise of an Empire," a sequel/prequel/spin-off of sorts from "300." Both "300" and "300: Rise of an Empire" were based on comic books written and drawn by Frank Miller (in the case of the latter, the book has yet to be published). Now she's starring in another Frank Miller adaptation, playing another feisty femme fatale, and totally killing it. She is very much a dame to kill for, but does her own killing too. She's stunningly gorgeous, funny, and quite witty, and she slinks around "Sin City" like she's lived there for years. The role might have been intended for Angelina Jolie, but Eva Green makes for an even better dame.
6. Some of the Stories Are New
Fans of the comic book will still get a kick out of the new material that's been folded into "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For." Two of the four stories are brand-new, and they're both pretty terrific. "The Long Bad Night" features a cocksure gambler (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who runs afoul of villain Senator Roark (Powers Boothe). This story rules. The second new addition to the canon is "Nancy's Last Dance," which follows Jessica Alba's character from the first film as she deals with the fallout of Bruce Willis' death and plots her own revenge against Roark. This is also the only story to take place after the events of the first "Sin City," I believe.
7. It's Spectacularly Violent
Just in case you were curious -- there are still a lot of lobbed-off heads.
8. Not Every Actor Is Comfortable With Rodriguez's Shooting Style
At Comic Con this year, Josh Brolin recounted a story from the production of the movie. Rodriguez had wanted Brolin to come onboard "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For" (the two had been friends since Rodriguez shot second unit on Guillermo del Toro's "Mimic," which starred a young Josh Brolin) and was finally able to secure him. When he got to the set, Brolin asked where Mickey Rourke was. Working with Mickey Rourke had been a dream of Brolin's and one of the primary reasons he agreed to sign on. "Oh," Rodriguez said. "He finished his part three months ago." Brolin was sort of mad, but took it in stride. The way Rodriguez puts these movies together is that he gets the actors to come in and film their parts separately. It takes about three days, and they usually don't work with other actors, just a few props, photographed against a large green background. Most of the actors in the movie seem pretty comfortable with this... Others do not. Christopher Meloni, for one, who plays a cop wooed by Eva Green's character, feels wooden and uncomfortable.
9. Eva Green Is Naked a Lot
10. "Sin City 3" Is Very Much Worth Looking Forward To
Overall, the feeling you get while watching "Sin City: A Dame to Kill" is a good one -- warm, and gooey, like blood trickling down your forehead. The world that Rodriguez and Miller have creative is vivid and engrossing. And you kind of want another installment sooner rather than later. Prolonged time away from Sin City is never a good thing.