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Ok, they say the first two lines of a review are the most important, well to be honest with you, this film is a bit of a dud.
Directed by Frank Miller, the writer of Sin City and 300, this is a graphic novel brought to life with a reasonably good cast, unfortunately the cinematography isn't great, the acting is fair and the direction is loose and doesn't keep the narrative in place meaning you don't care what the heck is going on.
Whats it about:
The Spirit tells the story of Danny Colt (Gabriel Macht) a rookie cop who dies, is reborn and then decides to rid the streets of the scum who killed him (I know, it doesn't sound anything like 'The Crow' at all). His nemesis is an odd villain, The Octopus (Samuel L Jackson) who wants to kill everyone in the city. The Spirit fights his way to find the Octopus and stop him whilst avoiding women who either adore him or want to kill him.
Available for £4.22 on Amazon, I thankfully rented this from Lovefilm, its not worth buying it really isn't.
Jaime King ... Lorelei Rox
Gabriel Macht ... The Spirit / Denny Colt
Dan Gerrity ... Det. Sussman
Arthur the Cat ... Himself
Kimberly Cox ... Damsel in Distress
Brian Lucero ... Thug #1
David Brian Martin ... Thug #2 (as David B. Martin)
Larry Reinhardt-Meyer ... Officer MacReady
Frank Miller ... Liebowitz
Eva Mendes ... Sand Saref
Eric Balfour ... Mahmoud
Samuel L. Jackson ... The Octopus
Louis Lombardi ... Pathos / Ethos / Logos
Scarlett Johansson ... Silken Floss
Sarah Paulson ... Ellen Dolan
I didn't get this film, in the first instance it works reasonably well with the film noir-ish story of the reborn crime fighter who is loved by women, however as soon as Samuel L Jackson and Scarlett Johannsen step on the screen as the villains, the film loses its sense of purpose, their performances are too avant-garde and make no sense to the story, it's distracting like a bad amateur dramatics class, the set seems like it was all shot in a studio and lacks the visual attention to detail of Sin City. The women are typical Miller cliches, either sexy broads with guns, or sexy broads with love for the hero.
The film thunders to an unthrilling conclusion, after about 30 minutes you won't care what happens and after an hour you will probably be reaching for the pause or eject buttons. Jackson is awful in this and Johannsen is miscast, Mendes is underused and Macht is fine as the straightman hero, overall this was a bad idea, badly directed, written and constructed and lacks much to come back to.
The Spirit is a comic/ graphic novel adaptation that was released in 2008. With a line up of big names, I was surprised that I hadn't even heard of this film when I saw it in HMV. After loving Sin City, I figured this would go along the same lines and for £5, I didn't mind buying it. The Spirit is rated 15 due to strong violence and it is 102 minutes long.
Denny Colt used to be a cop but he got shot in the line of duty. Colt was brought back from the dead and he decided to use his good luck on being the good guy. Colt now works as a crime fighting superhero along side the local police of Central City, using the name, 'The Spirit'. (His history doesn't become clear until part way through the film though.)
The Octopus is The Spirit's archenemy, who had something to do with bringing him back to life. When he was brought back, he came back with a difference...he can heal from any wound, something which he has in common with his enemy. The pair frequently end up in fights that last a long time because neither of them is able to win. It seems that both hero and villain are indestructible so what is it going to take for one of them to die?
As well as The Octopus, there are a number of other villains roaming around the city, causing grief for The Spirit. His first love, Sand Sarif, returns on a hunt for treasure but she is a long way from being the girl he once knew. The Octopus is also on a hunt for treasure but not the same kind, he wants the thing that will make him truly immortal so that he can rule the city. The Spirit has to race against time to make sure that the city stays safe.
Gabriel Macht as Denny Colt / The Spirit
Samuel L. Jackson as The Octopus
Scarlett Johansson as Silken Floss
Eva Mendes as Sand Saref
Sarah Paulson as Ellen Dolan
Dan Lauria as Commissioner Eustace Dolan
Stana Katic as Morgenstern
Jaime King as Lorelei
Paz Vega as Plaster of Paris
I had really high hopes for this film as it came from the same guy that did Sin City which I absolutely loved. Unfortunately, I was left with mixed feelings.
For me, there was too many main characters in this film. If I watch a superhero movie, I want a good guy, a bad guy and maybe a sidekick. Here, there seemed to be different villains jumping out left, right and center which gave the film too many small storylines. Quite of few of the characters were very unnecessary and the film would have probably been better without them. Because of this, I don't think some of the actors really got to showcase their talents as so much was going on all of the time.
The acting of the villains as a whole was comedic and not serious at all. I had no previous knowledge of this title and maybe that is why I didn't really get the way it was made. I assume that the cheesy lines were part of the original comic and anyone who has read this will understand the film instantly. The Spirit really tries to be funny and the majority of the cast get one lines that are supposed to make the audience laugh but all of these attempts failed.
I really didn't enjoy Macht as The Spirit. A hero has to be interesting and exciting enough to hold the audiences interest but I ended up not caring at all about him. He was quite boring throughout and he didn't have the same charisma or attitude that we have seen in past heroes. The Spirit is supposedly in love with every woman that he is in the company of and vice versa but I just couldn't see the attraction apart from the fact that he is a hero. He is supposed to be this big charmer but I wasn't impressed at all.
The female cast were, apart from the visuals, the most impressive thing about this film. Mendes, Johansson, and Paulson are all extremely beautiful and this is only enhanced by their costumes. Apart from Paulson's character, they walk around in very low cut outfits which will please the guys for sure, not to mention the quick flash of Eva Mendes naked.
While the film was stunning throughout, it wasn't consistent. Some scenes are black and white, some are sepia, some are black and white with either flashes of red or yellow and it seemed like the production team couldn't decide what they really wanted, so they threw in a bit of everything.
I think the main problem with this film was the fact that the majority of characters were flat and uninteresting. I guess the cast did the best with what they had to work with but that wasn't a great deal. I was left very dissatisfied after watching this film, that much that I didn't even watch it the whole way through. I wouldn't recommend anyone to buy this DVD.
The film was made in 2008,released January 09.
The director is Sin city's Frank Miller.
There are a lot of major actors in this such as Samuel L Jackson,Scarlett Johansson,and a very sexy Eva Mendez.
AAhhh I want to hate everything about this film...but I cant!!!
I hate comic book genre.Yet I kept laughing at this.I kept getting the underlying morality of the story.But in the background of my mind I was aggravated by the comicbookness of this film.
You may say ,why did I choose this film then?
Because I rented it off Lovefilm and didnt read the blurb.By the name I assumed it was a film abou umm SPIRITS,wrongly!!
Sorry mr film director but not all of us are of the comic book era.
The film is extremely Sin city in style.More than it needs to be ,just because it is the same director.What is he trying to show?That he is a one trick pony?
The good points are the cornyness and the funny stupid lines off "The Octupus'" henchmen.
The films plot, I will go over vaguely as if your interestedd in this kind of genre ,you will have probably seeen it already.
If you havent ,you probably wont enjoy it.
There is a cop"The Spirit".Who was a cop ,then died.But now he cant be killed at the moment.Watch the film to find out why.
There is Sand sarif who he knew as a child,who has turned into a bitter,golddigging villaine.
She is in on a crime that brings them back together after 15 years.
"The Octupus " played by Samuel Jackson is the criminal mastermind.
The acing is extremely good.I just dont like the style of filming and directing.
But maybe you will.
You may think that, by watching the trailer for The Spirit, that it's simply a Sin City ripoff, and whilst this may be true stylistically (as it's directed by the writer of Sin City, Frank Miller), but The Spirit was around as a comic book a good half-century before Sin City ever made it onto paper. That's not to excuse it in any way, because despite a solid cast, consisting of Gabriel Macht, Eva Mendes, Sarah Paulson, Dan Lauria, Paz Vega, Jaime King, Scarlett Johansson, and Samuel L. Jackson, this is a dreadful film that promotes style over substance, and doesn't even have much style to begin with!
The plot is pretty worthless, but I'll give it a shot - Denny Colt (Gabriel Macht) is a masked vigilante and detective known as the Spirit, who investigates baddies and spouts cheesy one-liners such as "I'm gonna kill you all kinds of dead." He's on the tail of the Octopus (played with some over the top gusto by Samuel L. Jackson), a big-time gangster that's doing all manner of bad things, most curiously, dressing up as a Nazi in a latter portion of the film for seemingly little reason, along with his beautiful sidekick, Silken Floss (Scarlett Johansson). As if there weren't enough noir cliches and cheesy moments for you, there's a femme fatale too - the preposterously named Sand Saref (Eva Mendes), who probably serves some sort of narrative function, but by this point you've probably given up with the plot and just undressed her with your eyes.
It's a good looking film, but it tries so hard to be "cool" that it earns a fair amount of dislike purely on that basis. It thinks it has such a smart and witty script, but in fact, it's just rather cheesy. Frank Miller may direct fine, but for a man who wrote Sin City, this is a massive disappointment, and I advise you to stay well away unless you're a masochist.
Frank Miller's adaptation of Will Eisner's comic series is an absurd and narratively shoddy endeavour that posits not an ounce of intellect or logic. Although not without moments of visual flair, The Spirit is alienating due to its cheesiness and immensely campy tone, yet Scarlett Johansson and Samuel L Jackson deliver attuned performances.
There's one thing to be said for definite about Frank Miller's films: they're visually stunning. He manages to capture a rich black and white effect with the odd splash of brilliant colour. I'll admit, to start with, it looks a little strange, but you soon get used to it, and it is undeniably impressive. As a writer/artist of comic books, he has long been in the top flight. His launch into stardom as a director couldn't have started better, either, with Sin City and 300 both excellent.
However, his third film as director, The Spirit, didn't quite come off as well as he had intended. Who knows? It may exactly as he intended it, and he doesn't care what the critics say, but the general consensus is that it hasn't carried as well as his previous two films.
Adapted from Will Eisner's comic/graphic novel, it tells of The Spirit (Gabriel Macht), a masked vigilante 'super-hero' working with Central City police to prevent crime, in particular his arch enemy The Octopus. The film actually takes a while to give us The Spirit's history, yet it opens with a dream sequence featuring Lorelei, The Angel of Death, who keeps coming for Spirit, only for him to fight her off. He is a strange character, with the slapstick, tongue-in-cheek comedy coming through in a very swashbuckling fashion, and after the first 15 minutes or so, we see that Samuel L Jackson' Octopus has an equal role in the joking stakes, as they proceed to have an all out fight using whatever destructive objects they can lay their hands on. The both of them also have a number of good one-liners. Sadly, they have an equal number of cringeworthy ones, too!
It is soon clear that these two enemies are virtually indestructible, with Miller adapting the two characters somewhat from the comic to give this some credence. Those familiar with Eisner's comic book will notice the healing power Spirit now has, as well as the multiple wardrobe changes Octopus seems to manage, whereas neither of these were present in the comics.
So, in this respect, it is somewhat similar to Sin City. Visually, you'd be forgiven for thinking they were the same, and the intention of dark humour is there, too. But there is something that stood Sin City apart from Spirit. Perhaps it was the number of different characters and the way the different plots in Sin City kept our attention flicking back and forth, but here in The Spirit, it all just seems a little overplayed.
Don't get me wrong: I enjoyed it a lot. The story flowed effortlessly, and unlike some reviews I have read, I found the plot easy to follow. It is essentially Spirit hunting down Octopus, to finish him once and for all, with a couple of subplots involving women intervening and cross-threading through the main storyline.
Yet, through it all, there never seems to be an element of seriousness in any of it. No matter the scene, the characters, or the action, never do you feel that any of the characters are in danger, or are even worried if something does happen to them. And it is perhaps this strange and unrealistic approach to the characters that reduces the film's impact in comparison to Sin City. There is no bruised and battered ego or body, no one out with a malicious vendetta, and only a couple of characters with any ability beyond that of regular humanity. Macht plays Spirit with a lot of charisma, but verges on being silly, while Jackson has the usual verbal diahorrea in a voice that steps towards anxiety throughout. The two actually bounce well off each other, but at times it's a bit over the top.
The same goes for the rest of the characters. Miller seems to have tried to recreate the smouldering mood created in Sin City, but it doesn't quite come off. Eva Mendes as Sand Seraph is quite impressive visually, as is Scarlett Johanssen as Silken Floss, Octopus' right hand woman. Indeed, all of the women in the film have been dolled up to the nines and look absolutely stunning. This includes Ellen Dolan, Spirit's long time flame and daughter of the police commissioner (in a similar ilk to Batman), and rookie cop Morgenstern, who are both striking female characters.
For the men, it is clear that Spirit is to be the one who stands out in the looks department. Octopus' features are given 8 streaks of make-up in a visual distortion, Commissioner Dolan (Dan Lauria) is an ageing and portly man with rough features, and the heavy-jowled clones doing Octopus' donkey work are blithering idiots and not much to look at. Yet Macht is given a stylish black suit, an almost Man With No Name kind of swagger (and accompanying music) and even a cheesy sprakling tooth on one occasion.
He falls in love, gneuinely, with every woman he meets, and this makes the character a bit more ridiculous than he already is, with a lot of the dialogue confusing and not really seeming to have any point. A lot of it is intensely surreal. I can easily understand why some would shirk at this film and lose interest. However, I quite enjoyed the strangeness, and found it easy to follow.
If you're expecting this to be anything like Sin City or 300 in terms of great plot and excellent acting, then you may be disappointed. The performances and tale aren't overwhelmingly impressive. However, it is visually stunning, there is no denying that. I really enjoyed watching it, although I probably won't bother again. It sits firmly as a 3 star film for me. The visuals are great, the rest distinctly average. I leave you to make your choice.
With comic books turning to films, these days you just get by one year with just 3 being released to out shine the rest.
But what if one film doesn't want to be the winning action-packed-special-effects laden blockbuster like the rest of them?
Well that film came to life with the sin city creator, Frank Miller was directing and penning a comic made famous by Will Eisner. The Story is simple comic style with the same art-form borrowed from sin city, The Spirit is a tough crime fighting ladies man (played by gabriel macht) whose assistance to the central city police department is a rocky but simple alliance. They are trying to put an end to octopus's (played by samuel 'l Jackson) evil schemes of becoming god.
Now this movie shines more on the mythological items like jasons golden fleece and many others. But the one strong point in this movie is the humor and the writing itself. it is silly and somewhat immature, But dull to look at. when watching this film don't expect a sort of dark knight complex, think more or less batman and robin only good and without the rubber nipples.
As some will give this film a low rating compared to the other blockbuster movies , I look at this film as something to enjoy, not to make you think or criticize, But to make you feel like your in a popcorn movie gone wrong.
And i'll leave you in agreement with old samuel 'l jackson with his earlier quote...
"Toilets ARE Funny"
The basis of the plot of this film is that a scientifically-altered superhero (The Spirit) has to battle to keep the city streets clean from petty criminals and super-villains. Sub-plots abound including our hero's complex love life and dealings with City officials. It's cast include Samual L Jackson, Scarlett Johansson and Eva Mendes.
The Spirit definitely seems to ride the wave of cult-status popularity from films such as Sin City and the enjoyable and unique style of Frank Miller is maintained throughout this film as well.
However, I wouldn't advise watching Sin City and The Spirit back-to-back as you may, like me, be disappointed if you are expecting a similar experience. This is probably my main gripe with this film. As a stand-alone movie I think I would have found it enjoyable, but I found myself judging it very harshly because of the publicity surrounding it which, inevitably, referenced Sin City. This, for me, was its undoing as when compared to Sin City I found it nowhere near is stimulating or endearing.
To be fair though I would watch this again and would probably buy the DVD as it is a fairly straight-forward and quite enjoyable film.
I'm not an expert in the Frank Miller style, so I approached this film very much from the point of view of an outsider.
That didn't stop me from thoroughly enjoying what at times appeared as a very low, misanthropic, bizarre and oddly crafted screen adaptation of a comic.
The vivid and imaginative way the action is brought to the screen underpins the exciting story and the violence that punctuates the whole flick is done in such a comically tasteful manner that it doesn't really infect you with a sense of seriousness at all.
The main two characters, Macht and Jackson, are pretty much indestructable anyway, so any violence comes across playful. The bizarre originality of the filming style also passes into plenty of elements in the script, whether it invloves big guns, Nazis or cats.
In short, even without an interest in comics or the particular style, it was still great to see.
Based on a comic superhero, rather like Batman and Spiderman, The Spirit is another crime fighter brought to the big screen, the big difference is the style, this film is beautifully shot film noir and it looks incredible.
The shadows are deep and long, the emphasis on shapes and features and the photographic work is posed and captivating.
The Spirit (Gabriel Macht) is an chiselled and dynamic ex cop, shot in the line of duty and mysteriously resurrected by The Octopus who is intent on finding eternal life. In his new guise as the unkillable hero, The Spirit must maintain the ever present dual role as he romances his widow who is strangely none the wiser. The trusty mask, brief and barely concealing as it is must be far more a powerful tool of disguise than I realised. I must get one of those!
The damsels in distress and the nemesis characters in some cases are all hourglass curves and smouldering glances over horn rimmed spectacles, their intention, good or bad, easily displayed on flawless, finely made up faces.
Sand Saref (Eva Mendes) is the curiously named eternal love of Danny/The Spirit, his teenage crush and his never forgotten true love who turned from the world of justice when she suffered loss at the hands of a criminal in her youth. Now she hankers after diamonds and riches and liaises with whoever bids at the best price, which puts her right in the path of The Spirit and his crime fighting associates.
The Octopus (Samuel L Jackson) is the loony arch enemy, desperate to capture the hero and with more in common than The Spirit would care to admit. He has a passion for the dramatic, which brings some of the most amazing visual imagery and some of the most ridiculous, especially in an Oriental themed scene with a touch too much of the rising sun imagery going on.
Silken Floss (Scarlett Johansson) is The Octopus' right hand woman. A cool and disaffected woman with intentions, unruffled by her loony boss and unmelted by the attentions of the Casanova effect of The Spirit. She exudes boredom and superiority and leaves each scene as she arrived, with a perfectly lipsticked mouth full of snappy quips and her exquisite wardrobe untouched by the endless array of bullets.
Ellen Dolan (Sarah Paulson) is the ever faithful widow, a doctor who works on The Spirit, not knowing his true identity but still deeply in love and yet disgusted by the devastating effect he has on women and they on him. Endlessly patching up the hero until his own healing powers kick in but unable to patch her own heart, she has the potential to become something more of a threat.
The story line is a little patchy and for those of us with little previous knowledge of the character the historical storyline is described in short clips of memories, experienced mostly by The Spirit himself before his death. This brings us up to speed but that takes some time. Then there are the in jokes, understood only by those who followed the original graphic stories. Some chuckles in the audience were lost on me but many little one liners are winners with everyone including 'He's deader than Star Trek'. An amusing 'nerd' reference which will probably very soon be inaccurate.
One mystery which remains with me is the edgy film noir style shooting with 1940's America style sets and costumes, even lending phrases, hairstyles and make up of the day yet with modern gadgets like mobile phones and laptop computers. Even, at one stage, an old style classic black telephone, used much like a mobile, with no cord or base unit.... evidently a stretch of the imagination needed in some places more than others.
Visually stunning but slightly incomprehensible storyline yet still worth a watch.
My reviews may appear in the same or a similar format on other sites.
Given that the bandwagon for superhero movies finally seems to be slowing down a little, it was inevitable that a more obscure comic character would manage to creep his way onto the big screen next to the Incredible Hulk and Batman. The Spirit was a newspaper comic strip famous for it's genre-hopping ways, focusing on the adventures of a masked detective that ended decades ago, and despite a recent DC Comics reinvention, the character still isn't really a big enough name that you would think a movie based upon it would be bankable.
Enter Frank Miller, legendary comic writer and director of the adaptation of his own graphic novel Sin City. If anyone could make The Spirit a money-maker it was Miller, whose history as a writer would guarantee the comic fan-boy's presence and his impressive work with Sin City both the trendy and film-geek crowd's interest. The film would be shot in a style not 100 miles away from Sin City's - lots of black and white with dashes of colour and various other stylistic shots. This set alarm bells ringing in my head right away, the visual style used for Sin City worked so well because it's how the comic was drawn - the spirit used conventional B&W in the old days and colour once it became the norm, to me it really looked like Miller was simply trying to cash in on the success of Sin City and had picked up the license for a fairly obscure comic as means of doing so without causing too much of an outcry from the character's fan base.
The film follows The Spirit (Gabriel Macht)- aka rookie cop Denny Colt, killed in the line of duty but somehow resurrected with the ability to heal himself from wounds. With the blessing of his former Captain Dolan (Dan Lauria) he takes on his secret identity and acts to help the police, bending the rules that they cannot.
The Spirit's world takes a turn for the dramatic when his first love Sand Sarif (Eva Mendes) returns to town - but not as the girl he knew, but as a criminal femme fatale on the hunt for an ancient treasure. However, it turns out that The Octopus also seeks a completely different ancient treasure, yet the two end up with the wrong treasure each and things become complicated. While the treasure Sarif seeks is of value to her only for it's golden nature, The Octopus seeks an elixir that would make him immortal, meaning The Spirit faces a race against time to stop his arch nemesis and save the City.
The saddest thing about The Spirit is that I'm not even really omitting a lot of the plot here. You may be wondering where all the other faces on the poster come into it - Scarlett Johansson as Silken Floss, sidekick to The Octopus? Sarah Paulson as Dr. Ellen Dolan? Jaime King as Lorelei, angel of death? Yes their all in there, but none of them actually do anything significant to the film's plot...come to thing of it there isn't really anything significant about the plot.
Now this might sound like some sort of bitter ranting here, and quite hypocritical from someone whose forte is action films, but the Spirit's plot really is dire, made all the worse by the film's overbearing sense of thinking it's smart. I could have let this plot slide had it been padded with all sorts of wild action sequences, but truth is it's padded with cringe-worthy humour and scenes of The Spirit flirting with the female cast. A little romance and sexual tension isn't necessarily a bad thing, but the fact is the characters are so flat it's impossible to do anything but roll your eyes at their attempts at interaction. Had every one of these scenes ended with a hardcore sex-scene perhaps The Spirit could have found more success marketing itself as a story-driven porno film.
When thinking about The Spirit I can't help but compare it to a film with a somewhat similar background in the form of 1996's The Phantom. Based on a newspaper comic as opposed to the flashier Marvel or DC heroes, The Phantom embraced it's roots and made itself as a simple, perhaps somewhat silly swashbuckling action movie. It got critically slaughtered. The funny thing about The Phantom is that if you watch it now, it really isn't that bad. Like I say it's a bit silly, and god knows that purple suit looks awful, but it's a fairly fun, decently acted caper that pretty much embodies the phrase "comic book adventure". So how does this relate to The Spirit? Well, The Phantom was based on a similar pulpy adventure hero, and it embraced this, and tried unsuccessfully to fly into the wind and be a success in a market that didn't want Superheroes, it wanted grittyness, and realism. The Spirit on the other hand lifts a few elements from it's source material but tries to rearrange them to fit what's 'cool' today. Thus we have the pointless attempts at style, which I'll get back to later, and some of the worst written characters ever seen on screen. For reasons unknown The Spirit has somehow developed superhuman healing in his transition from funnybook to film, and while I think he's supposed to be written as a ladies man, it's so terribly done he comes across as more of a creep. The Octopus apparently originated as a Master of disguise, only identifiable by his trademark gloves...here he's portrayed by Samuel L. Jackson, so given the tickets he sells there's no danger his face will ever be hidden, and instead our villain is a bit of a weirdo who likes to play dress-up as Samurais, Russians, cowboys and in a scene you have to think was inserted sheerly to court controversy a Nazi. It makes you wonder why they even bothered paying for the license to an existing property instead of making one up themselves ala Sam Raimi with Darkman - oh wait, I know, because then they would have to actually write the characters and give them some background and not have the safety net of "you should have read the comics you heathen" snobbery when people question why nothing about the characters is explained! We do get a (highly predictable) new origin for The Spirit, after much tedious "we are brothers" interplay between he and The Octopus, but Jackson's character is one of the most terribly written things I've ever seen in a movie. We're told The Octopus is The Spirit's arch enemy, we're told that The Octopus is evil...but we're never told or shown exactly what he does that is evil. He clones his henchmen and wants to be immortal...but he doesn't really strike me as a criminal mastermind or threat to the world. He's given no story, he reveals he was a coroner, so clearly his alter-ego, facial tattoos and obsession with the number 8 happened sometime between the birth of The Spirit and the movie, but why? If Miller had actually took his finger out and written a movie, and as much as I loathe origin tales, it would have made more sense to show either his or The Spirit's origin, as is we come into it and both are already active and its almost as though you're watching a sequel, like you should know who and what these people are and are all about.
The film also seems to be on a quest to randomly insert as many unnecessary characters as possible. Remember Spiderman 3? How it got a bit cramped as new villains were showing up left right and centre? This is worse. Was there a purpose is Paz Vega's character or were they hoping the sight of her in a belly dancer outfit would distract viewers enough not to notice? Was there a need for Lorelei at all? Was this film just Frank Miller's excuse to have a grand-scale perv-session and get paid for it?
Then there comes the art style...oh boy. Now as I said, this worked in Sin City. It was a fresh way to make the film, and it accurately represented how the comics looked. With The Spirit, Miller effectively turned a masterstroke that really made Sin City into a cheap gimmick. It wouldn't be so bad if there was any consistency to it, but some scenes are colour and just dark, some are B&W with dashes of red, some are sepia, some monochrome...its just jarring jumping from scene to scene where everything is different. The film does have some glorious shots yes, some of the monochrome stuff works, and the first time you see silhouette fighting it is cool yeah, but overall the way the film just jumps from look to look almost comes across as self indulgent on the part of the director.
I can't quite make my mind up if the acting is tragic, mainly because the characters are so terribly written, but let's just say there aren't many good things to say. Macht doesn't exactly excel as a leading man, nor is he convincing as a lothario. Jackson comes across as more camp than menacing and overall there are only 3 members of the cast able to come out of this mess with their heads held high - Johansson is the only player who actually manages to deliver her comedy relief lines with any success, Lauria was made to play these grizzled cop roles and Paulson is clearly trying her hardest with a cardboard character.
On the plus side, the film's score isn't bad, but then that will happen if you basically rip-off Danny Elfman's Batman score - the only thing this film has in common with a good movie.
I know you're thinking "this guy can't be serious, there's no way a film with a cast and budget like this can be that bad" but I'm not lying. I'm not a fan of The Spirit comic, so this isn't a bitter fanboy rant, it's someone who enjoys movies, and has a soft spot for this type of Superhero adventure, disgusted at how a shockingly high budget, cast and crew can be squandered on such a terrible, terrible movie. It's genuinely one of the worst films I've ever seen, and off the top of my head the worst comic book adaptation ever (yes, worse than even Daredevil) it really should be skipped. Yes it's packed to the gills with beautiful women, but my cinema ticket to see this tripe cost me £6.60. Six. Pound. Sixty. For that you could go to your local Asda and pick up a copy of FHM for some beautiful celebrity women in states of undress and use your change to buy a half decent DVD in their sale.
In recent years, movies based on graphic novels have been steadily increasing in popularity, and director Frank Miller has been at the helm of two of the most popular exponents of the genre; '300' and 'Sin City'. Now this next comment may be extremely controversial due to the movies popularity, but I hated Sin City. Basically, I just couldn't take it seriously, and although it did feature a lot of violence, I felt I was watching something designed for kids - that said, I did appreciate some of the amazingly dark cinematography which is recognised as being part and parcel of the directors style.
'The Spirit' is Frank Millers latest offering, based on Will Eisner's popular comic book series. The movie stars Gabriel Macht as the eponymous hero who has returned from the dead to keep the bad guys of Central City at bay. Unfortunately for The Spirit, nemesis 'The Octopus' (played by Samuel L. Jackson) has ambitious plans to take over the world - but will he succeed...?
From the off, I wasn't that impressed with The Spirit. The opening sequences show the main character jumping across the rooftops of the city, and in my opinion, his movements look like they have been very cheaply animated. I was further disappointed when the film arrived at the first confrontation between Spirit and Octopus. The choreography was terrible - it reminded me of those comedy fights that Reeves and Mortimer used to do on Shooting Stars - hitting each other over the head with frying pans type-thing... quite embarrassing.
Apart from the weaknesses which I have picked out so far, the majority of the visuals throughout The Sprit are actually very impressive. The emphasis in many of the scenes focusses on selected objects - for example, our hero's bright red tie and ice white trainers stand out like beacons amongst the often monotone backdrops.
Samuel L. Jackson is rather average as the films main bad-guy - he plays the role exactly as you would expect him to. His dialogue consists mainly of poor one-liners which don't do a lot for the scenes in which they are used. The same can be said of Gabriel Macht's portrayal of The Spirit - his lines seem awkwardly placed and badly written, probably not a fault of Macht's, who himself doesn't do too much wrong.
Eva Mendes makes an appearance as 'Sand Saref', the main 'love interest' for The Spirit. Mendes is pretty good in the role, and portrays a character who is looking to gain a specific object from the world of mythology. This sub-plot about the quest for immortality, is weak at best, and suffers from a badly thought out scrrenplay.
In conclusion, The Spirit is a disappointing movie which is leagues apart from the film (based on Miller's graphic novel) which impressed me most - '300'. Watching The Spirit reminded me of why I didn't like Sin City, and I would award both with two stars only. If a mediocre piece of escapism is what you're after, then there are worse films out there - but be warned, this one could have been a lot better.
This might seem a very premature and very bold prediction, but I'm going to stick my neck out anyway. I watched this film on 2 January 2009, and it's possible that I may already have seen the worst film of the year. Put it this way, if there is going to be a worse one, I don't want to watch it.
And hopes were so high... Frank Miller's solo directorial debut, from a script written by him, aping the comic book style of Sin City, which he co-directed. What could possibly go wrong?
The answer, it seems, is almost everything.
About all The Spirit has in common with Sin City is that it is visually striking, although even here, it fails to live up to its predecessor. Like Sin City, it copies the comic book style, with stylish black and white visuals with just the odd splash of colour lighting up the screen... at least that's how things start off. Whereas Sin City consisted of about 80 or 90 per cent comic book style visuals, the figure is far lower in The Spirit. The opening ten minutes show a lot of promise and are most reminiscent of the "graphic novel" style. After this, the visuals depend more on rubbish looking sets, which look exactly like what they are - sequences filmed on some studio back lot somewhere. When The Spirit directly imitates the visual style of Sin City, it threatens to become interesting. The rest of the time it just looks rubbish and cheap. Frank Miller may well have co-directed Sin City, but on the evidence here, much of the imagery was the work of his counterpart, Robert Rodriguez.
Now, at this point in my reviews, I'd normally give you a brief two or three line summary of the plot to give you some idea of what it was about. And believe me; I'd really like to do that now. It's just that, having sat through 103 minutes of the film, I don't have a clue myself. Something about a man who's dead, but isn't; a lunatic bad guy with a penchant for over the top make-up; a vase of blood and the Golden Fleece (as in Jason and...). Yep, it doesn't make the slightest bit of sense. Things happen on screen and then some more things happen and then extra things happen. But no matter how many things happen, they don't shed much light on the things that have happened before or the things that are going to happen. Confusing doesn't even begin to describe it. Nor does messy. A whole new word is needed to describe how bad it is, so I'll invent one. Fellow dooyoo-ers, this film is Confuessy.
Now, a confuessy plot isn't necessarily the end of the world. I'm all for a film that doesn't make any sense, providing it's fun to watch. Oops. Looks like The Spirit has drawn a blank again. There's just no engagement to be had with the events, because there's no sense of action, excitement, danger or anything else. It's just a series of random things happening after each other with no discernable link between them. It all makes it very hard for the viewer to care.
It's not helped by the fact that The Spirit is so completely and utterly devoid of any humour whatsoever. Another big reason for the success of Sin City was its very black, cynical, tongue in cheek humour, which contrasted nicely with the daftness of the plot and the stark imagery. The Spirit has none. Oh, it tries. There are a number of attempts at one-liners and over the top humour, but they fall flat on their face spectacularly. One reason for this is that they are delivered so badly, another reason is that they are just so clunky and forced as to be truly horrible. Combined with the rest of the awful, cheesy dialogue this is yet another reason not to watch the film.
And don't even get me started on the cast: a terrible mish-mash of hopeless actors, complete nobodies and A-listers who appear intent on career suicide. Gabriel Macht (as The Spirit) is bland and on his performance here, he's more suited to the role of milkman than avenging hero. Just occasionally he threatens to show a glimmer of charisma, but that's soon beaten out of him. Then there are some "actors" (and I use the term loosely) who urgently need to see an acting coach before they are unleashed on an unsuspecting public again. They are so poor I can't even be bothered to mention them by name.
Finally, we have the big name actors. Scarlett Johansson continues her career nose-dive with a truly awful performance as the absurdly named Silken Floss (all the women in the Spirit have stupid names, by the way.) Worryingly, her character's name is about the best thing about her, as she stumbles dazedly through a pointless role.
Then there's our old friend Samuel L Jackson. In my recent Lakeview Terrace review, I stated that Jackson is one of the few actors I would go and see regardless of the overall quality of the film. The Spirit (and his performance in it) is so bad I may need to revise that opinion. This doesn't even fall into the "will work for food" category. Jackson himself seems to be having great fun playing the role of bad guy The Octopus. If so, he's certainly ahead of the audience. Even Sammy can't save this unholy mess. His performance has more ham than a butchers' convention and no matter how much he shouts and winks and grimaces, his performance is neither scary nor funny. When not even the presence of Samuel L Jackson can raise a film above one star level, you know you've got a real turkey on your hands.
Cheesy dialogue, poor acting, non-sensical script, puerile obsessions with women's bodies and silly, over-the-top (but extremely po-faced) fight scenes. Never have I felt so totally and utterly disengaged from a film. Maybe it's appropriate, then, that this film was released within the Christmas period: it's such a turkey Bernard Matthews would have been proud of it. Put it this way, if I were given the choice between watching The Spirit again and being locked in a room with a DVD of Mamma Mia on constant loop, I may well voluntarily walk through the door marked ABBA. Anyone who knows me will realise how bad that makes The Spirit.
Look. Times are hard. Money is tight. Don't waste your cash on this. It's awful. I can't put it any more simply than that.
Director: Frank Miller
Running time: approx. 103 minutes
© Copyright SWSt 2009
The Spirit is based on Will Eisner's noir-esque comic strip. Writer/Director Frank Miller has given it the same slick, almost monochrome style of Sin City, with splashes of red here and there - mostly the Spirit's tie.
Denny Colt (Gabriel Macht) is a dead cop brought back to life, who sees himself as the spirit of Central City, fighting crime from the shadows. He can pretty much survive anything, to the constant astonishment of the loyal doc Ellen Dolan (Sara Paulson), who is always around to put him back together. Like all the women in the film, she finds him irresistible, but she's also bitterly aware that the faithless Spirit seems to be in love with whatever woman he's with at the time.
He encounters a whole stream of them as he hunts his arch enemy the evil Octopus (Samuel L. Jackson) and his gang of strange but stupid clones (all played by Louis Lombardi). There's the Octopus's cool and calculating female sidekick Silken Floss (Scarlett Johanssen). Then there's the sultry but materialistic Sand Serif (Eva Medes) the Spirit's childhood sweetheart who reappears as a diamond thief, and the exotic Plaster of Paris (Paz Vega) who he also has a history with... and so it goes on. They all either want to kill him, seduce him or both.
Unlike Sin City, which had a darker edge, the Spirit is all played tongue in cheek. Samuel L. Jackson hams it up gleefully as the criminal mastermind with a master plan to become a god. Eva Mendes wiggles her way through the film swathed in diamonds and not much else. The camera pays a lot of attention to her cleavage and rear end. At one point she calls someone a perfect ass while she sits on a photocopier printing off a copy of her own, then waves it in his face.
Gabriel Macht is actually quite good as the Spirit who can't seem to say anything without giving it a Chandler-esque slant, such as: "Somebody get me a tie - and it sure as hell better be red." or "I'm gonna kill you all kindsa dead!" Unfortunately that's not enough to save the film.
It's a film that tries hard to be slick and funny but some of the humour is just so off, it fails gruesomely. The plot is flimsy to say the least, and it's all stre-e-e-etched out with so much pointless discourse I nearly fell asleep. If you've seen Sin City you'll know what to expect in terms of visual style, but other than that it's not nearly as good. I can't really think of anything good to say about this film except er... well there are some very stylishly framed shots, especially of the Spirit leaping along the rooftops. And um... that's about it really. However there were several young guys in the cinema behind me who seemed to get a big kick out of it, so I'm guessing they were fans of the comic, who maybe got some 'in' jokes that I missed.
Part of the problem is, it doesn't even give any explanation of how the Spirit came to be what he is until nearly halfway through the film. A bit pointless really by then. If you're a comic fan, I expect it's a must-see. But shouldn't a film be accessible to more than just its fan base? I've enjoyed watching the Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Hellboy and Batman films, as well as all the Christopher Reeve Superman films, and I didn't need to read the comics to find them entertaining (although I admit I used to read my brother's Batman, Superman and Fantastic Four comics when I was about ten). If you're not a devoted fan of the Spirit, don't waste your money.