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Overall Rating

Awesome: 16%
Worth A Look: 8%
Just Average: 8%
Pretty Crappy38%
Sucks: 30%

5 reviews, 20 user ratings

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Spirit, The
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by Jay Seaver

"A potential guilty pleasure."
2 stars

When I first saw trailers for "The Spirit", and compared them to what I've seen of the comics, I figured that the biggest potential problem with the movie would be that Will Eisner's creation (which had a fine revival by Darwyn Cooke a couple years ago) was somewhat whimsical despite its noir elements, and Frank Miller doesn't do whimsical. Upon seeing it, I stand corrected: Frank Miller does do whimsical, but his idea of what fits in that category is rather different than Eisner's - and, likely, that of most other people.

This doesn't make The Spirit a good movie, but it does have potential as a guilty pleasure. The Spirit is the gloriously bad product of a single lunatic, with Miller's fingerprints on every frame, and you could sprain some part of your brain trying to figure out which individual bits he's trying to play straight and where he's indulging in (self) parody. It hasn't been homogenized to make it less idiosyncratic or cut down to 88 minutes to squeeze an extra daily showing in. It's consistent enough and the story makes enough sense that someone whose sense of humor is in line Miller's can enjoy this quite a bit, and the rest of humanity may find themselves fascinated by the sheer insanity.

It starts off a bit odd, even for a superhero movie, as Central City's masked hero, The Spirit (Gabriel Macht), leaves his cats behind to answer a call from one of his policeman allies. After thwarting a mugger, he picks up the trail of arch-nemesis The Octopus (Samuel L. Jackson), who along with his cloned thugs (Louis Lombardi) and comely assistant Silken Floss (Scarlett Johansson) is trying to retrieve a mysterious crate. He's got competition, though, in the person of Sand Serif (Eva Medes) - a former girlfriend of the Spirit, back when he was young Denny Colt, and what she finds could hold the secret to The Spirit's and Octopus's unusual healing abilities.

Though Miller and Eisner respected each other's work as comic book artists, they had very different styles. Miller opts to shoot his film in a style similar to how he and Robert Rodriguez shot Sin City, an approximation of the way he draws. That wouldn't necessarily be a big deal if he were doing this as a comic; it's not unusual for an artist to bring his own style to a long-established character, but Miller's doesn't seem particularly suited to this one. Sometimes I thought he was deliberately trying to send up how wordy comics used to be, with panels filled with words and characters explaining themselves out loud even though there's no one besides the audience that needs to hear it. It's awkward and artificial, and Miller never gets it to work either as good exposition or entertaining parody.

There are occasional spots where things work, in large part due to the large, fun cast. Most of the time, they tend to choke on Miller's dialogue, but every once in a while they hit on something that works. Macht finds a naive charm in the moments when he doesn't have to be hard-boiled, and Jackson chews some good scenery (though the whole egg obsession never works). Lombardi and Johansson are goofy and deadpan, respectively, as Jackson's sidekicks. Sarah Paulson is sadly underused, while Miller goes for shameless exploitation with Eva Mendes and Paz Vega (though anyone who complains about shameless exploitation of Paz Vega just must not like the female form).

"The Spirit" isn't a good movie, but I have to admit, there were plenty of moments when I enjoyed its insanity. Not enough moments, and few of them are truly great, but that's why its upside is "guilty pleasure", rather than "genuinely good movie."

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=17451&reviewer=371
originally posted: 01/03/09 00:19:18
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User Comments

1/10/21 Otis Rampaging Heterosexuality One of THE most ludicrously underrated movies of all-time. 5 stars
9/18/17 The Big D Fun and stayed true to the comic. Who got the allusions to Jules Feiffer and Steve Ditko? 4 stars
9/16/17 morris campbell IT SUCKS 1 stars
2/10/13 Doug Just watched it again, and it grows on you. It isn't as bad as its reputation. 4 stars
7/20/12 Sean Harrison Weird, just weird. 3 stars
4/02/11 Daniel Grinton I walked out because if I wanted pretty girls and no plot I could just watch porn. 1 stars
2/28/11 jashar fun, fun, fun! 5 stars
1/23/11 bill norris no way near as good as sin city, but stana katic was hot in it 3 stars
7/26/09 gc A superhero movie thats actually WORSE than catwoman and Batman and Robin put together 1 stars
7/13/09 FrankNFurter Boring, incomprehensible poo with some of the worst acting ever captured on camera.Shameful 1 stars
4/29/09 VMANIC1 Bizarre, ridiculous, lots of dialogue. Deserves two and one half stars. 3 stars
4/26/09 Gertrude No fun. And the whole comic book style just gets annoying after a short while. 1 stars
1/16/09 Stephanie Bruce If you like the way sin city was filmed this is kinda the same way, different and fun 4 stars
1/15/09 Aesop This pile may get HB to add a ZERO star choice. Stop Frank Miller before he directs again. 1 stars
1/07/09 Griffin A little bit of everything does not always mean the movie is for everyone! 4 stars
1/05/09 Mack Quirky humour barely saves the Ed Wood equivalent of Sin City. 3 stars
1/04/09 Apollo Miller's so fifteen minutes ago. 1 stars
12/25/08 Darkstar Wow, I kinda had respect for frank miller until I saw this. Really really bad. 2 stars
12/25/08 Greg Ursic Sin city wannabe without the story or characters. 1 stars
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  25-Dec-2008 (PG-13)
  DVD: 14-Apr-2009


  DVD: 14-Apr-2009

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