This is a LitFlix that has been a long time coming. For one thing, this movie was originally slated to come out last year, so I’ve had the comics for this for over a year! For another thing, the movies came out two weeks ago, we saw it in its second weekend, and here I am finally writing about it.
I think some of the delay is because, honestly, I don’t know that I have much to say. We did come home from seeing Sin City: A Dame to Kill For and immediately rewatched the first film, Sin City. So there’s that to say for it. The movie has also made barely any money, so I will lead with this: if you liked Sin City, you’ll probably like A Dame to Kill For. But you might not have much longer to see it in theaters – I know it’s already gone from our local theaters!
Spoilers to follow for both Sin City movies, but not all too many!
How it Works in the movies
So my first experience with the Sin City franchise was with the first film. This opens and closes with little bookends with an assassin. Then, we open and close with Hartigan – played awesomely by Bruce Willis. There’s a gap in his story – but 9 years pass in-between, so that works.
Then we get Marv’s story, and he dies. Then we get Dwight’s story, and there’s Marv – alive and well. So that places it in time – before Marv’s story. Dwight’s story also talks about him having a new face, so you know, backstory. Mickey Rourke and Clive Owens are pretty great, the black and white rocks, and it allows for a disconnect from the violence – gives it an artistic and comic feel.
You’ve probably seen the movie, probably know what I’m talking about. Well, then you know already kind of what’s up with the second film.
The aesthetic is back, it’s black and white and awesome. With the splashes of color – though I’ve heard some say (and Holly and I kind of agree) that the use of color seems less planned or purposeful, and more random. For instance, there’s some inconsistency – some aspects which are color at some times, and in black-and-white at others.
The film lacks a short bookend like the first movie – instead, there’s a short intro with Marv. You know, Marv being Marv. Oh, and being alive. That too. Then we get a new story – Joseph Gordon Levitt and his character, newly written for the movie. He’s a connection to the villains from the first movie – the Roarke family. The power in Sin City – the corrupt, despicable power.
Then we get Dwight’s story – his earlier story, before his new face. Then we’re back to Joseph Gordon Levitt – but unlike the break in Sin City, this time only a matter of minutes or maybe hours has passed, instead of years. Then we move on to a far later story – Nancy, getting revenge for the death of Hartigan in the first film. So from a prequel to a sequel – it’s a Presequel!
How it Works in the Comics
Alright, so I’m not sure what I was expecting, but with as much story-hopping as the movies had, I was maybe expecting that. I think I was definitely expecting that. It’s definitely not what you get.
Each of the graphic novels or collected volumes is the story of one character. In the first volume, The Hard Goodbye, it’s entirely Marv’s story, with Goldie and Cardinal Roarke and Kevin and the cannibalism and his mitts. Seriously, all of it, down to his list of materials he needs, including Gladys and his mitts. Whole lines are lifted into the film, and the look and scenes replay.
Which works in part because you have Frank Miller as one of the directors on the film – this lets you know very clearly that he approves of what’s being done with the work. It also makes it hard to deviate and do anything else – you kind of have to stick to the source material pretty hard. Why wouldn’t you, when it’s your source material?
So I only read the first and second volumes, so Marv’s story in The Hard Goodbye and Dwight’s story, A Dame to Kill For, which is his story in the second film, before he has his new face. This is the story full of Eva Green’s character, who, in D&D terms is Chaotic Evil with an 18 charisma. Good villain, well acted in the movie, all that.
Overall, though, was it different enough from the comics to warrant a movie? I don’t know. Maybe the one, for the aesthetic, for the idea of it. Two movies? I’m not sure at all. And clearly, neither did audiences – it is thoroughly tanking. However, I think this just about covers all of the stories from the comics, so they don’t have to worry about making a third one. So again, if you’re a fan, if you like Sin City, then you have two films, excellently adapted, and it is a thing to behold.