Critics Consensus

Critics Consensus: Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is a So-So Sequel

Plus, When The Game Stands Tall fumbles, and If I Stay is a sleepy weepie.

by | August 21, 2014 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got a town without pity (Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, starring Josh Brolin and Eva Green), a pigskin powerhouse (When The Game Stands Tall, starring Jim Caviezel and Laura Dern), and a teenage tragedy (If I Stay, starring Chloe Grace Moretz and Jamie Blackley,). What do the critics have to say?

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For


When Sin City was released in 2005, it sent shockwaves through the fanboy universe: it was a comic book movie that really felt like a graphic novel come to life. Nine years later, we get a sequel, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, and while critics say its noirish visuals are as astonishing as before, the film’s slow pace and would-be hard-boiled dialogue make for a less satisfying journey. Like its predecessor, A Dame to Kill For is a series of vignettes set within the rainy, pitiless confines of Sin City, a metropolis rife with brutal violence, double-crosses, and vengeance. The pundits say Sin City: A Dame to Kill For benefits from a stellar cast and bleak ambiance, but this material just doesn’t feel as fresh as it used to. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down director Robert Rodriguez’s best-reviewed films.)

When The Game Stands Tall


With the NFL season just around the corner, the inspirational drama When The Game Stands Tall hits theaters to sate the appetites of anyone in desperate need of a football fix. But while critics say the film’s on-field action is visceral and exciting, its script sticks a little too close to the sports movie playbook. It’s based on the true story of the De La Salle Spartans, a Concord, CA high school team that compiled a 151-game winning streak under the calm, thoughtful guidance of coach Bob Ladouceur (Jim Caviezel) before tragedy struck. The pundits say When the Game Stands Tall is best in its smaller, more character-driven moments, but it could use a little more “rah-rah-sis-boom-bah.” (Flip through this week’s 24 Frames for a gallery of the best and worst movie coaches.)

If I Stay


There’s nothing wrong with a good old-fashioned tear-jerker, as long as the tears are jerked honestly. Unfortunately, critics say that’s not the case with If I Stay, a well-meaning, well-acted melodrama that ultimately collapses under the weight of its forced, schmaltzy story. Things are going pretty well for Mia Hall (Chloe Grace Moretz) — she’s a Juilliard-bound cellist in a relationship with an aspiring rocker (Jamie Blackley) — until she’s left comatose by a terrible car accident. As Mia clings to life, her spectral presence roams free, checking up on her family and friends while contemplating the afterlife. The pundits say If I Stay offers further proof of Moretz’s talent, but she’s ill-served by clunky dialogue and soapy plotting. (Watch our video interview with Moretz, Blackley, and co-stars Mereille Enos and Joshua Leonard.)

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • K2: Siren of the Himalayas, a documentary about a trek to the summit of the foreboding mountain, is at 100 percent.
  • Love Is Strange, starring John Lithgow and Alfred Molina as an aging couple who must each find new lodging after losing their apartment, is Certified Fresh at 98 percent.
  • Metro Manila, a thriller about a rural couple who get into big trouble in the big city, is at 96 percent.
  • The Expedition to the End of the World, a documentary about a diverse group of adventurers who journey by boat to a remote area off the coast of Greenland, is at 83 percent.
  • Kink, a behind-the-scenes look at a poplular BDSM website, is at 83 percent.
  • To Be Takei, a documentary about the remarkable life and times of the Star Trek star, is at 81 percent.
  • The One I Love, starring Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss in a dramedy about a married couple trying to rekindle their relationship while on a romantic getaway, at 79 percent.
  • Salvo, a thriller about a hitman whose life is changed when he spares the life of the blind sister of the man he was ordered to kill, is at 79 percent.
  • 14 Blades, starring Donnie Yen in a martial arts film about an assassin who goes on the run after being betrayed by his men, is at 63 percent.
  • Winter In The Blood, a drama about a drunken man on the trail of his estranged wife and his late father’s rifle, is at 53 percent.
  • May In The Summer, a drama about a celebrated writer whose life is upended by a visit to her family in Jordan, is at 50 percent.
  • The Possession of Michael King, a found footage horror film about a documentarian looking for proof of the supernatural, is at 50 percent.
  • Jersey Shore Massacre, a horror/comedy in which vapid bar-hoppers are stalked by a crazed killer, is at 17 percent.
  • Are You Here, starring Zach Galifianakis and Owen Wilson in a comedy about a slacker who inherits his father’s estate over the objections of other family members, is at four percent (check out director Matthew Weiner’s Five Favorite Films here).

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