Do you ever watch a film and marvel at the construction, savour the script, relish the photography and soak up the score?
Of course you do. But by the time the film is over, do the sum total of those fabulous elements feel less because the story lacked a certain something?
Sin City 2 is one of those movies, as stylish as the original, boasting splendid virtual and real sets inspired by Frank Miller's source comic.
The presence of Josh Brolin, Joseph Gordon Levitt, and original stars Bruce Willis, Powers Boothe, Jessica Alba and Rosario Dawson gel nicely. The hard boiled characters and narrative are terrific, violent, sexy, extreme, brutal and seductive, but strip away the visuals and creative flourishes and truth is you're left with some rather dull stories.
It's a shame as Miller has long been one of the best storytellers in the business, but nine years after the first Sin City, although this belated sequel dovetails well enough, it does feel a bit of a waste.
However, as with the other Miller-inspired comic prequel/sequel this year, 300: Rise of an Empire, Eva Green steals the show as a femme fatale at the heart of the drama.
She looks as terrific now as when she stole hearts in The Dreamers all those years ago, usually wearing little more than a smile and some conveniently placed shadows.
I wanted to like Sin City 2 more than I did, but by the time the closing titles rolled I felt short changed by the plot twists which left me rooting for one character only to be let down.
I'll not say why, but maybe it's the relentless bloodletting that even when interpreted as glowing white liquids, gets a little samey and tiresome.
It's well worth a look, but was more style than substance. Great style admittedly, but with more of an emotional wallop and less gunshots and sword slashes, it could have been a modern classic.