Contributor Posts, Movies

Sin City and Some Expectations for A Dame to Kill For

In light of the opening week of  Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, some cable channels have been showing reruns of the original Sin City moviewhich was released waaaay back in 2005. I remember enjoying that film when I was a teenager, so much so that I watched it multiple times on VCD. So I said “Why not?” and sat myself down on the couch to watch it again,  just to see if it was still enjoyable or if I was being deluded by the fancies of my youth.

Interestingly enough, it was.

Sin City 2005 cropped movie poster

Blood, blood everywhere

The first thing that comes to mind is how I’ve forgotten how completely gory the movie is. Blood everywhere, decapitations, beheadings, castrations, etcetera, not to mention the other acts of torture that don’t involve someone’s entrails all over the floor. Have I mentioned castrations? It’s like everyone’s favorite form of torture. It’s surprising that I like this movie because I am not usually a fan of extreme violence. I tend to hide underneath the nearest pillow and cover my eyes with my hands like a child. However, all this gore is offset by such a great attention to visual detail. Sure, someone on screen is screaming their head off, but they’re screaming in a way you’ve never quite seen before, and it makes you want to look longer.

A moving comic book with a film noir plot

When you’re watching Sin City, it doesn’t feel like you’re watching a movie; it feels like you’re watching a moving comic book, and I think that’s its biggest draw.

In terms of the plot, the movie moves forward in your typical noir fashion. Guy meets damsel-in-distress and guy saves damsel-in-distress no matter what the cost. The visually stunning is offset by the mediocre story telling. Now don’t get me wrong; I understand that the genre is characterized by a girl in need of help, but this is just so typical that all I can do is eye roll. In fairness to the men, they are very charismatic. It’s hard not to like Dwight McCarthy while he’s shoving Jack Rafferty’s head into a dirty toilet. But I’ve been there, seen that, bought the stereotype when I was younger, vomited the stereotype when I was older, and now write about the triteness of the stereotype as a plot device.  It’s hard to like something that’s already been done to hell and back.

Also when McCarthy gave his “Always… and never” line? I almost cackled out loud it was so cheesy.

Animated gif of Miho throwing a shuriken in Sin City 2005

The only female character who seems to break the mold of helpless victim is Miho, but she never says a line throughout the entire movie. It’s intimidating as heck, but no character exploration was done and I don’t exactly know why she’s doing whatever it is she’s doing. Extreme loyalty to Gail? Or is it to Old Town? And if so, why does she care? Again, the movie delivers this for the guys. You know the motivations for their actions because they are constantly narrating it to the point of being annoying. But what do we know about Miho? Zilch.

That being said, the setting and world-building save the plot somewhat. I like the concept of Oldtown, which is reminiscent of a modern day Amazon. So here you have a city filled with female prostitutes with guns, all  imbued with sexual and physical power. Not bad for a romantic concept and the appeal is not lost on me, to say the least.

Overall, interesting and recommended

All things considered, Sin City is an interesting way to pass the time. It’s visually compelling enough that there’s something to mine in every re-watch, and the plot, while typical, can be forgiven by the other aspects the movie brings to the table. People should watch out for the spectacular amounts of gore and their trigger issues, but aside from that, I actually do recommend this movie, and I am a little excited to see what they’re going to do in A Dame to Kill For.

Based on the trailers, they seem to be addressing the lack of female agency. Jessica Alba’s back as Nancy Callahan, and it seems she’s going to play a darker, crazier role in what’s going to go down in Sin City. Eva Green and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are other additions to the already star-studded cast, but I am curious as to what the new Miho (I don’t know who she is at the moment) is going to contribute to everything.

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