The fact that A Dame to Kill For left me feeling almost ambivalent might be a good thing. It’s a film that I enjoyed very much, due naturally to its hyper-stylized art design and violence. It makes it stand out a little differently from the other adaptations of comic books, as it recreates Frank Miller’s world into a movie we’ve never seen before (at least when that first one came out). And being Frank Miller, there would be no way of adapting his work that would give even a similar effect without that certain style, something that seemed like it would only work in the form of a graphic novel. Audiences were surprised to find a fascinating action title dripping in classic noir fringe. At least the sequel isn’t a complete waste of opportunity.
At the same time it is. I consider the first Sin City as genius, as it is certainly a great movie and one that comes instantly to mind when I think of the best comic-book-to-film transitions. It took so many risks, not just visually, but narratively, as most mainstream feature-length films don’t go for the anthology format, let alone pull it off. It’s one of the most kinetic movies I’ve ever seen.
However, A Dame to Kill For seems stilted from the beginning. We get a straight introduction to Rourke at warp speed, with no build-up or ease. The content certainly isn’t graceful, but the execution has been, if you can recall the genius opening to the original. It’s also noticeably shorter, and feels like it, considering how many characters they cram into here. The people who were carried over from the first are developed by default, but go little further due to lessened screen time.
Still, I’m not sure if it deserved the box office it received, which was a complete and utter disaster. Many are speculating that it was due to the years distancing the two films, because wow, Sin City (the movie) is nine years old (although there is also other talk about failed advertising campaign strategies). Aside from the decrease in quality, A Dame to Kill For has a lot of beautiful visuals that I wish were embraced more openly.