The Spirit Review

The SpiritFrank Miller is a legend in the comics biz, and rightly so. As writer/artist he re-invigorated Daredevil for Marvel and Batman for DC in the 80s then went on to give the world his own creations such as 300 and Sin City. The film adaptation of the latter is the most faithful comic movie ever made, and Miller used his co-directing credit to launch a career in Hollywood. With The Spirit, it’s Miller’s show all the way, as both writer and director he helms this film. The trailer made it look like Sin City 2, with it’s black and white imagery and over the top action. Sadly, that’s exactly what this film gives you. It’s not individual in its approach, because it’s been done so much better with Sin City. That film is fun, funny and adventurous. The Spirit has none of that. It’s just – dull.

Will Eisner was a legend in comics long before Miller and when he gave the world The Spirit, he used the strip as a groundbreaking tool for sequential storytelling. This film is the opposite of that – disappointing and uninteresting, only because Sin City has already taken the similar green screen manipulation approach and wowed us. The story here is also flat and involves resurrected cop Denny Colt AKA The Spirit and explains his origins, tied in with arch enemy The Octopus and his chase for immortality. Bringing the tale to the modern day doesn’t help. Staying in the 1940s would’ve cemented its noir influence more effectively. There’s a bevy of beauties  with cool names, such as Sand Saref and Lorelei, but even Scarlett Johansson lacks any charm and Samuel L. Jackson as baddie The Octopus (a character whose face was never revealed in the original newspaper strip) is typically boisterous. Nothing saves this film. The CGI backgrounds have been done before, the dialogue is bland and strangely repetitive and The Spirit, played by Gabriel Macht, has the annoying propensity to offer gruff voice-overs, and talk straight to camera. If you want to really know what The Spirit is like, check out DC’s collection of archive editions, or their new Spirit series by new creators.

The best thing about the DVD is a 15 minute feature called Miller on Miller, in which he discusses his comics career and gives a brief history on the artform, with beautiful art dispersed throughout. Here’s a tip – hire the DVD and just watch this doco instead. Miller’s next film project is another adaptation of a classic character – Buck Rogers. I wish he’d just leave Hollywood and come back to comics.

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