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SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR

SYNOPSIS:
The town's most hard-boiled citizens cross paths with some of its more reviled inhabitants.

Review by Louise Keller:
The stylistic brilliance of the Sin City sequel is much the same as its forerunner in 2005 - an explosive interpretation of Frank Miller's graphic novels in which dames are curvaceous temptresses and men are killing machines at the ready. The noir black and white production with splotches of primary colours - mainly red - is striking and the action is an interwoven mesh of connected stories in which passion holds the key. Robert Rodriguez and Miller's style is hard-hitting and violent, albeit the violence is of the comic book variety. Bones are rearranged, eyes are gouged, heads are speared and bodies torpedoed by bullets. It's extremely well done albeit a bit of a rehash of the original with added 3D, the X-factor coming from the voluptuous Eva Green, whose seductive charms as the goddess who makes slaves of men, is irresistible.

The characters of Sin City have one thing in common: they are all tormented by inner monsters and demons. Masked under prosthetics and special effects, the men hoarsely mumble their way through the dark streets of Sin City, while the dames show their wares and use everything at their disposal to get what they want. There are some good lines, like 'I was born at night, but it wasn't last night,' delivered by Josh Brolin's Dwight, in response to the sultry Ava (Green), whose every moment on screen is one to savour. The imagery is superb and I love the shot in which a naked Green dives into a pool; the water's reflection and the angle of the shot allowing the two versions of Green to collide dramatically mid flight.

It's all about revenge and each character has different motivation. Much of the action takes place in a rowdy saloon where gravel-voiced Marv (Mickey Rourke submerged under comic-book prosthetics) keeps an eye on Jessica Alba's raunchy exotic dancer Nancy, who is bent on her own revenge against Sin City's big-wig Senator Roark (Powers Boothe). The way different voices are used for each story section allows an interesting, ever-changing perspective. I like lines like: 'Death is just like life in Sin City'; 'Live while you're alive'; 'You can't take the good without the bad' and 'Sex always made you stupid'. Each story is narrated by and seen through one character's eyes as we are confronted by high stakes, back-room poker games, rides in fancy back Mustangs and red Chevvies, while a string of scantily clad women and tough guys restricted by nothing, make their presence felt.

It's all style and the style is stunning. As a consequence, the dramatic curve is limited by the screenplay's structure. Pretty much everything is left to Eva Green who creates the kind of sex goddess of old (and for any age), who makes it easy to understand why men can be manipulated to extreme lengths. Every member of the large, star-studded cast is effective: Bruce Willis, Dennis Haysbert, Marton Csokas, Ray Liotta, Jaime King, Juno Temple, Rosario Dawson, Jamie Chung, Stacy Keach, Lady Gaga and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Johnny, the gambler who tries his luck. Rodriguez keeps control of the cinematography, music and editing as well as joint direction with Miller, who wrote the screenplay.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
This fusion of cinema and graphic novel first created by Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez with the original Sin City (2005) remains a unique and powerful format for visual storytelling. But while the pictures are sensational, there is both dialogue and narration, the latter voiced by several of the characters as if writing their own noir novel. The mood is dry as gunpowder - and as explosive.

That's why I think and feel that Miller's writing, together with his graphic sensibilities (graphic both literally and descriptively) marry Rodriguez' cinematic ones so perfectly. Seamlessly blending animation and live action (heavy with prosthetics), the film is like a huge magnifying glass placed over a bunch of characters and underworld places. It's larger than life, but it's true to life.

The impact of high contrast black and white photography, with stabs of colour (sometimes in the same frame), emphasises the black and white choices Sin City's characters make. There is eye-pleasing power in abundance, with every scene an arresting visual essay.

The performances are as big as the characters, with Micky Rourke leading with Marv's oversized chin ... and soft heart; at least for the few he cares for. And it's an A list cast, all absolutely devoted to their characters and the film as a whole. Jessica Alba impresses with her dynamic strip routines as Nancy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is compelling as Johnny and Eva Green gives manipulative Ava - the dame to kill for - every ounce of the feminine witchery for which she is famous in Sin City.

There is not a dull second in this town, and not a dull character. This is manga with a nuclear payload of human weaknesses ... as well as love, loyalty and courage.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR (MA15+)
(US, 2014)

CAST: Jessica Alba, Powers Boothe, Josh Brolin, Rosario Dawson, Joseph Gorden-Levitt, Eva Green, Dennis Haysbert, Stacy Keach, Jaime King, Ray Liotta, Jeremy Piven, Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis

PRODUCER: Robert Rodriguez, Sergei Bespalov, Aaron Kaufman, Stephen L'Hereux, Mark C. Manuel, Alexander Rodnyansky

DIRECTOR: Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez

SCRIPT: Frank Miller (graphic novel Frank Miller)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Robert Rodriguez

EDITOR: Robert Rodriguez

MUSIC: Robert Rodriguez

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Caylah Eddleblute, Steve Joyner

RUNNING TIME: 102 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Icon

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 18, 2014







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