Like the graphic novels that inspired it, the original Sin City movie was a visually arresting noir crime dramas that put a modern spin on pulp novels and films. Now, nine years later, we finally have the next chapter: Sin City A Dame To Kill For, which Anchor Bay are releasing on 3D Blu-ray and DVD. But while the movie itself is as engaging as the original, the home video versions could’ve been a little better….but only a little.
Following the pattern of the first film, Sin City A Dame To Kill For features four interconnected stories: “Just Another Saturday Night,” in which Marv (Mickey Rourke) wakes up surrounded by some dead bodies and doesn’t remember why; “The Long Bad Night,” a two-parter in which a head-strong gambler named Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) learns why you shouldn’t play poker with Senator Roark (Powers Boothe); “Nancy’s Last Dance,” which has the titular dancer (Jessica Alba) plotting revenge for the death of John Hartigan (Bruce Willis); and, at the center, the titular tale, in which Dwight (Josh Brolin) gets mixed up with his old girlfriend, Ava (Eva Green).
Admittedly, in the years since the original Sin City, what was that movie’s distinctive visual style has become somewhat common, thanks, coincidentally, to such movie as The Spirit (which was directed by Sin City writer/co-director Frank Miller) and, to a lesser extent, 300 (which was based on another of Miller’s graphic novels). But as someone who’s far more interested in the story than the art, Sin City A Dame To Kill For is actually every bit as captivating as the first movie. Mostly because of the story “A Dame To Kill For,” a classic noir tale if there ever was one.
That said, if you are visually oriented, Sin City A Dame To Kill For looks great on Blu-ray. Though I’d actually recommend watching it in 3D if you have a 3D TV. Maybe it’s because the visual style is borderline animated, or maybe because co-directors Miller and Robert Rodriguez took the time to do it right, but this is one of the rare 3D movies that actually makes good use of the third dimension.
Along with the movie, the Sin City A Dame To Kill For Blu-ray and DVD also include a handful of interesting extras. First up is the rather self-explanatory “The Movie In High-Speed Green Screen, All Green Screen Version,” which is a version of the film as it was shot on green screen, just sped up so it’s only 16:28 long. But this, oddly, is about ten minutes too long, since after a few minutes, watching it got tedious. Doubly so when you realize they could’ve just included one scene at regular speed and it would’ve had the same effect.
Next up on the Sin City A Dame To Kill For Blu-ray and DVD are “Character Profiles” of Ava, Nancy, Dwight, and Johnny, which spend a few minutes each talking to Green, Alba, Brolin, and Gordon-Levitt, respectfully, as well as Rodriguez and Miller, about the characters and what the actors thought of them. And while some of the comments are clearly driven by talking points, most are off-the-cuff and thus are insightful and…well, maybe not revelatory, but at least interesting. That said, it would’ve been good if they’d also included profiles for some of the other characters, most notably Roark and Detective Mort (Christopher Meloni).
As for more on the making of the film, this comes on the Sin City A Dame To Kill For Blu-ray and DVD in the form of the featurettes “Makeup Effects Of Sin City With Greg Nicotero” and “Stunts Of Sin City With Jeff Dashnaw.” At six-and-a-half and five-and-a-half minutes long, respectfully, neither of these show you how to make your own Sin City-ish movie, but they do show how the movies were made in a way that’s engaging for those of us who don’t want to go to film school.
What’s odd, though, is that the Sin City A Dame To Kill For Blu-ray and DVD also have the trailer for Sin City, but not A Dame To Kill For. Admittedly, not everyone likes to watch a film’s trailer before they watch the film itself like I do, but I really doubt anyone who buys or rents this flick isn’t going to know about the first one.
While the extras on the Sin City A Dame To Kill For Blu-ray and DVD are interesting, they’re missing a couple things that would’ve made this much better. For starters, it could’ve really used a commentary by Rodriguez and Miller like the first one had. Or, even better, one with Rodriguez, Miller, and some of the cast. It also could’ve used something on the original comics, as well as Miller talking about the origins of the original stories he wrote for this film.
They could also use a more formal making-of featurette, since the “Makeup Effects…” and “Stunts…” ones are as much about those two guys as they are the movie. Granted, they went into detail on the process on the first Sin City Blu-ray and DVD, but it still would’ve been interesting to see again, especially since the process may have changed a little in the intervening nine years.
It would’ve also had been nice if the Sin City A Dame To Kill For Blu-ray and DVD had included something about actors Michael Clarke Duncan and Brittany Murphy, both of whom starred in the first one, but sadly passed away in the intervening years, and thus aren’t in this one (though it’s completely understandable why it doesn’t). Similarly, there’s no mention of why actors Clive Owen and Devon Aoki didn’t return to reprise their roles as Dwight and Miho…though you could just look it up on the web like I did: Owen was going to take over after Dwight’s facial reconstruction surgery, but after having Brolin do it just in case Owen wasn’t available, Rodriguez and Miller decided to use the Brolin footage instead; Aoki was pregnant and the time, and was thus replaced by Jamie Chung.
For fans of noir crime stories, graphic novels, and, of course, noir crime graphic novels, Sin City A Dame To Kill For stands alongside its predecessor as an engaging and visually stimulating movie. And while the Blu-ray and DVD could’ve been better, they still present this film in the way it deserves.