If offering one's fans what they want is a legitimate goal to strive for, Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez's Sin City sequel (and prequel) is a legitimate success. This particular fan yearns for a viable independent entity with each film he watches, and though it's unquestionably possible to accept and assess each of them on exactly those terms, it's clear that Sin City: A Dame to Kill For comes up short when evaluated as such. All in Miller's world is by deliberate design, and for the purpose of existing as just that. Even the thematic substance of these stories, as slight as it may be, the permutations of the genre(s) he exploits, can be categorised alongside all of Sin City's stylistic strokes. Thus, this alternative noir space occupies a unique position, artistically, a position of some purity and credibility, no matter how violently other films and filmmakers have chosen to bastardise it. Would that Miller and Rodriguez resisted the temptation to do exactly that. Adhering to the nonsense notion that the sequel ought to do just what its predecessor did, only even more so, they sap the glorious mystique out of their creation. For every mesmerising frame of stark monochrome in marvellous depth, there are several dozen more that are cluttered, uninspired, prosaic and derivative. They're expanding, which makes sense, certainly given the first Sin City's three-story structure, but this tactic isn't as foolproof as it might have seemed: that film's stories were largely bleak, narrow-focused, intimate affairs, whereas A Dame to Kill For's attempts at widening the outlook only muddies the water. On the whole, whether concerning cast or crew contributions, this is a very mixed bag of a movie.