Will ‘Sin City: A Dame to Kill For’ Be Worth the Wait?

"Sin City: A Dame to Kill" For will hit theaters this summer. Will it be worth the wait after long nine years?

Mar 7, 2014 at 11:21AM

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, the sequel to Sin City, the black and white neo-noir film based on Frank Miller's acclaimed comic book series, will finally hit theaters on Aug. 22. It's nearly been nine years since the original grossed $159 million on a production budget of $40 million.

Despite the popularity of the first film, which was co-directed by Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez, and Quentin Tarantino (credited as a "guest director"), the project has been delayed over the years due to various production issues with The Weinstein Company.


New Sin City photos featuring Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. (Source: The Weinstein Company)

Miller, however, has declared his intentions to make five films with Rodriguez to reflect the universe that he created as both writer and artist. Sin City, which chronicles the gritty lives of the residents of Basin City, spans over a dozen serialized tales that have since been collected in seven trade paperbacks from Dark Horse Comics -- The Hard Goodbye, A Dame to Kill For, The Big Fat Kill, That Yellow Bastard, Family Values, Booze, Broads & Bullets, and Hell and Back.

What will the new Sin City be about?
The first film's three distinct storylines were based on The Hard Goodbye, The Big Fat Kill, and That Yellow Bastard. The new film will be a prequel, and will bring back Bruce Willis as Detective Hartigan, Mickey Rourke as Marv, Jessica Alba as Nancy, Jaime King as Goldie/Wendy, and Rosario Dawson as Gail.

New cast members include Eva Green, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Dennis Haysbert, Jeremy Piven, Stacy Keach, Ray Liotta, Jamie Chung, and Josh Brolin.

The core storyline will be based on A Dame to Kill For, which centers around Dwight (Josh Brolin), Marv (Rourke), and the titular femme fatale, Ava Lord (Green). Brolin plays an earlier version of Dwight, who was played by Clive Owen in the first film. The recasting of Dwight was intentional, since the character goes under the knife to get a new face between the events depicted in A Dame to Kill For and The Big Fat Kill.


Eva Green will play the "dame to kill for," Ava Lord. (Source: Fanshare.com)

Miller has also beefed up the storyline to give Jessica Alba and Bruce Willis more screentime. Miller stated in an AskMen interview that the prequel will "show you a whole new side of Nancy that will break your heart." The new film has been shot in 3D, making it one of the few black and white 3D films ever made.

What could go wrong?
To gauge Sin City's chances at critical and commercial success, we should take a look at Frank Miller's track record in comics and films.

Miller is a polarizing figure in the comic book industry -- he has been praised for his brilliant work in Daredevil, The Dark Knight Returns, 300, and Sin City, but he has also been harshly criticized for his later work, such as The Dark Knight Strikes Again and All Star Batman and the Boy Wonder. There's a consensus that although Miller is a talented writer and artist, his work can be jarringly inconsistent.


The Dark Knight Returns is often considered Miller's magnus opus. (Source: DC Comics)

Miller also doesn't have the best track record in films. He wrote the screenplays for Robocop 2 (1990) and Robocop 3 (1992), which completely derailed the franchise carefully crafted by screenwriters Edward Neumeier, Michael Miner, and director Paul Verhoeven.

After the surprising success of Sin City, Miller wrote and directed Lionsgate's (NYSE:LGF) The Spirit (2008). Although the partially black and white neo-noir film superficially resembled Sin City, it missed the mark with critics and audiences alike, earning a 14% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and only grossing $39 million on a production budget of $60 million. By comparison, Sin City earned a more respectable Rotten Tomatoes rating of 78%.


The Spirit looked like Sin City, but lacked its soul. (Source: Cinemasquid.com)

The reason is simple -- Miller, like many great artists, needs creative partners like Robert Rodriguez to distill his vision for the big screen. That's precisely what director and co-screenwriter Zack Snyder did with 300 -- he turned Miller's comic book into a film without his direct creative input. As a result, the first film grossed $465 million on a production budget of $65 million. The second film, 300: Rise of an Empire, could replicate that success when it hits theaters on March 7.

What could go right?
Despite Miller's inconsistent record in comics and films, co-directing the Sin City prequel with Robert Rodriguez is a great idea. Readers familiar with Miller's comics know that he often takes the grittiness of his world far too seriously, to the point that it often alienates the reader.


A well-known example of Miller's inconsistent writing style. (Source: DC Comics)

Rodriguez, on the other hand, knows how to have fun as the bullets and guts are flying, as he has gleefully demonstrated in films like Desperado, From Dusk Till Dawn, Planet Terror (part of the Grindhouse anthology), and Machete. Yet Rodriguez often leaps off the deep end as well -- who can forget the infamous scene in Machete where Danny Trejo casually uses a man's intestines as a rope to jump out a window?

Since Miller and Rodriguez cancel out each others' flaws, and they now have additional help from co-screenwriter William Monahan (The Departed), the new Sin City should come out every bit as polished as the original.

My final take
I'm personally looking forward to Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, which should be a breath of fresh air amid the big summer blockbusters this year, which will include Transformers 4: Age of Extinction, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

What do you think, fellow comic and film fans? Are you eager to see Miller and Rodriguez finally bring the next chapter of the Sin City franchise to the big screen? Let me know in the comments section below!

The next step for you
Want to profit on business analysis like this? The key for your future is to turn business insights into portfolio gold through smart and steady investing ... starting right now. Those who wait on the sidelines are missing out on huge gains and putting their financial futures in jeopardy. The Motley Fool is offering a new special report, an essential guide to investing, which includes access to top stocks to buy now. Click here to get your copy today -- it's absolutely free.

Leo Sun has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

1 Key Step to Get Rich

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better. Whether that’s helping people overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we can help.

Feb 1, 2016 at 4:54PM

To be perfectly clear, this is not a get-rich action that my Foolish colleagues and I came up with. But we wouldn't argue with the approach.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich" rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

"The Motley Fool aims to build a strong investment community, which it does by providing a variety of resources: the website, books, a newspaper column, a radio [show], and [newsletters]," wrote (the clearly insightful and talented) money reporter Kathleen Elkins. "This site has something for every type of investor, from basic lessons for beginners to investing commentary on mutual funds, stock sectors, and value for the more advanced."

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better, so it's nice to receive that kind of recognition. It lets us know we're doing our job.

Whether that's helping the entirely uninitiated overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we want to provide our readers with a boost to the next step on their journey to financial independence.

Articles and beyond

As Business Insider wrote, there are a number of resources available from the Fool for investors of all levels and styles.

In addition to the dozens of free articles we publish every day on our website, I want to highlight two must-see spots in your tour of fool.com.

For the beginning investor

Investing can seem like a Big Deal to those who have yet to buy their first stock. Many investment professionals try to infuse the conversation with jargon in order to deter individual investors from tackling it on their own (and to justify their often sky-high fees).

But the individual investor can beat the market. The real secret to investing is that it doesn't take tons of money, endless hours, or super-secret formulas that only experts possess.

That's why we created a best-selling guide that walks investors-to-be through everything they need to know to get started. And because we're so dedicated to our mission, we've made that available for free.

If you're just starting out (or want to help out someone who is), go to www.fool.com/beginners, drop in your email address, and you'll be able to instantly access the quick-read guide ... for free.

For the listener

Whether it's on the stationary exercise bike or during my daily commute, I spend a lot of time going nowhere. But I've found a way to make that time benefit me.

The Motley Fool offers five podcasts that I refer to as "binge-worthy financial information."

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. It's also featured on several dozen radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable ... and I don't say that simply because the hosts all sit within a Nerf-gun shot of my desk. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers contain timeless advice, so you might want to go back to the beginning with those. The other three take their cues from the market, so you'll want to listen to the most recent first. All are available at www.fool.com/podcasts.

But wait, there's more

The book and the podcasts – both free ... both awesome – also come with an ongoing benefit. If you download the book, or if you enter your email address in the magical box at the podcasts page, you'll get ongoing market coverage sent straight to your inbox.

Investor Insights is valuable and enjoyable coverage of everything from macroeconomic events to investing strategies to our analyst's travels around the world to find the next big thing. Also free.

Get the book. Listen to a podcast. Sign up for Investor Insights. I'm not saying that any of those things will make you rich ... but Business Insider seems to think so.

Compare Brokers