I don't understand what it is about this franchise. I always seem to be going against the norm. The first Sin City film I thought was simply fine. Nothing groundbreaking and most certainly a tad overrated. Now, 9 years later, we have the second installment: Sin City: A Dame To Kill For, and again I'm against the norm. The film is currently sitting on a messily 46% on Rotten Tomatoes, nothing in comparison to the first film's Certified Fresh score of 78%, yet for some reason I managed to find this film more enjoyable. Sure it's got its flaws, all of which I'll be delving into in just a few moments, but the overall film itself is just a damn entertaining experience.
The film, like its predecessor, is split up into multiple stories. Sin City: A Dame To Kill For has 3, just like the first, although a fourth is arguably intertwined into all 3 of these stories. The first story we're introduced to follows Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a cocky gambler with a habit of winning. After a victorious night out in the town, things begin to crumble for poor Johnny. This portion of the film is by far the weakest story. While it's elevated by a sensational performance from Joseph Gordon-Levitt, there simply isn't an entertaining enough premise to be found. The well shot and gripping poker scenes are all this story can boast with. There's a few violently wicked images and a rather creepy looking Christopher Lloyd, but the story is boring, predictable and lazy.
The second story we're introduced to, and the one that takes up the largest chunk of the movie, is the Dame to Kill For storyline. The story follows Dwight (recast as Josh Brolin), a man recovering from his unexplained, but presumably violent past. His life seems to be going on track until he's contacted by his ex-girlfriend, Ava (Eva Green), a seductive and vicious woman who gets joy from ruining people's lives. This story is by far the most interesting of the three. An extended runtime allows this story to use its fleshed out characters to the extreme, giving us time to get to know them, something the other two stories didn't get enough time to do. Eva Green gives yet another haunting, sinister and mesmerising performance as Ava, adding to her already great list of performances.
The third and final story we get follows Nancy (Jessica Alba), the stripper from the first film who's hellbent on avenging Hartigan (Bruce Willis), her saviour and almost lover from the first film. To do this, Nancy gets the help of Marv (Mickey Rourke), an incredibly violent man who'll be willing to do almost anything. This storyline feels very shoehorned. We get just a few brief glimpses of Jessica Alba's sexualised dance routine throughout the first two stories, but nothing of any importance. Once the other two stories are wrapped up her story only begins. Thankfully, Jessica Alba doesn't get an awful lot of lines because she still can't act, even if her life depended on it. This story, although rushed, forced and messy, is aided heavily by Marv, a fan favourite from the first film and a complete badass. However, it's really unfortunate to see his character not getting a lot to do, although his appearance in the other two stories was a delightful surprise.
To sum up, Sin City: A Dame To Kill For is surprisingly even more entertaining than the first. Joseph Gordon-Levitt's story drags, and Jessica Alba's feels forced, but they're only brief when compared to the mesmerising Dame to Kill For story.