In the realm of comic book movies, director Robert Rodriguez's "Sin City" (2005) was a notable exception. Where most such movies think the idea is to make comic books look less like the printed page and more like the "real world," Rodriguez pivoted hard in the other direction, trying as much as possible to make his film look like the expressionist, high-contrast black-and-white pages of Frank Miller's original graphic novels. To put it simply, Rodriguez was one of the only people to get that comic books have something to offer beyond far-fetched plots and superpowers. Namely, a look.

No doubt having original author Frank Miller on board as co-director went a long way to making that happen, but Rodriguez single-handedly pioneered the use of green screen, postproduction set design and digital coloring to give his film an iconic, pulp-noir vibe. It turned out to be his finest moment. In the decade since, nothing else he has done — junk like the endless "Spy Kids" sequels or the "Grindhouse" spinoff "Machete" — has captured the public's imagination like the eye-popping "Sin City" did.

So it's not surprising that Rodriguez has chosen to revisit the material, only that it took him a decade to do it. "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For" — again made with Frank Miller — is both a prequel and sequel to the original, and won't make much sense if you haven't seen the first one. More so than the first "Sin City" even, "A Dame to Kill For" wallows in seedy, hardboiled cliches turned up to 11, seeming even more like a fabled lost novel of crime writer Jim Thompson, written after a three-day tequila bender where he couldn't meet the bill, was slipped a mickey, stripped naked and thrown into a cactus patch.