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A mundane Monday movie review- ‘The Spirit’

May 24, 2010

This is quite possible the worst comic book related movie I have ever seen or at the very least the most boring. Frank Miller has no business making movies if they look like this one. When The Spirit made its theatrical release I did not go to see it because A: it came out on Christmas Day and I had better things to do on that particular day, B: when the reviews came out about this movie they were universally negative, C: I tend to avoid wasting my money on going to the movies when the movie is generally considered to be bad (You know how expensive the movie going experience has gotten lately). So, I waited till the movie made it to cable because if I was going to go through with this it would be in the comfort of my own home and on my own time thanks to my On Demand cable feature.

I really don’t know where to begin with what is wrong with this film. So, I guess I will begin with Frank Miller’s film style. There are a lot of things that don’t translate from paper to film, like the use of the reverse negative on paper looks great and dramatic, but on-screen it was fine for sence transition but for the most part it was used to break up shots so the camera didn’t look so static. Another problem for me regarding Miller’s film is his dialogue both the internal monologue of the Spirit and hard-boiled dialogue between the characters either seemed forced, over the top, boring and/or awkward, take your pick. The plot of this movie is another sore point especially when you find out why the Spirit and Octopus can’t die or what the Octopus’s grand plan is and how he wishes to archive that goal it just seems utterly ridiculous in a film that should be a noir detective movie. Which brings me to another problem of this film in that the Spirit doesn’t really seem to solve anything and doesn’t really change from what was presented at the beginning of the film. I can’t believe how much it seemed that Samuel L. Jackson enjoyed playing this character especially having to do one scene in a Nazi uniform, but I see it as an excuse to be in a comic book related movie more than anything. None of the characters in this film seemed interesting to me including the Spirit, and since when did the Spirit became Emo-Spirit, I did not like the all black with the red tie to me that was like putting nipples on the Bat-suit. To me the Spirit has a very distinct style and look, and this was not it this was what if the Spirit went to Sin City and that is a world that I do not believe the Spirit belongs in.  This film to me is not noir or neo-noir but faux-noir it’s not even all style and no substance, but it’s goofy style and absolutely no substance. I can go on for days what is wrong with this film like how the women in this film are just objects of desire for the Spirit and are another form of Miller’s misogyny or how stupid it is to have the Spirit going around town with a picture of Sand Saref’s ass asking people if they know who it belongs to and the only one who can properly identify who it belongs to is a midget (way to go Miller you’re a real fucking class act). Finally, I think the only way that this film was made into a somewhat linear or coherent movie was the fact that he had three assistant director’s more than likely doing the heavy lifting for him.

Oh, and a few other final thoughts, I hated the Octopus’s henchman they were so fucking annoying. This is a movie that didn’t deserve to see the light of day or at least not in this incarnation. I don’t believe that this is what Will Eisner would deem as  faithful to what he envisioned. To me this is nothing more than some cheap Sin City knock off with Spirit characters. Michael Uslan the producer of the original Batman anthology and the two Christopher Nolan Batman movies and a man who is an avid comic book fan and sometimes comic book writer brought us this abomination and honestly I feel Eisner should be turning in his grave. It is my belief  that the failure of this movie and failure of All-Star Batman and Robin is what caused him (Frank Miller) to drop off the map at least that is what I believe, and I try to take some comfort in that. It is my hope that Hollywood will turn it’s back on Frank Miller, just like Frank Miller turned his back on Eisner, and comic book fans. I’ve said this before but I’m done with Frank Miller and other lazy creators like him.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. May 24, 2010 9:37 pm

    I believe it’s easier to enjoy this movie if you haven’t heard of Frank or the Spirit.Then You can take it as an offbeat adventure flick.
    I think the main problem is that this movie has little to do with Will’s work and is very much an average to mediocre Frank Miller comic brought to film.I have no doubt the producers thought they could repeat Sin City’s success.I read a rumor that the studio wanted super powers hence the Spirit’s regenerative abilities.
    I’m sure Frank thought the dialogue was funny,but it had nothing to do with the poignancy of Will’s stories.It did feel like a retread of stuff Frank’s done for the last 15 yrs cuz it was.The Spirit wears chuck taylors cuz Frank likes them.I like them too,but that’s not Will’s Spirit.Solving crimes with yer mind?That’s fer wimps!Tuff guys in Frank’s stories beat the hell outa something!That’s how real men do it!I thought the henchmen/clones were kinda amusing,but once again nothing to do with Will’s work.
    Another thing I did dislike was the Spirit’s “plan”.Shoot the bad guy and drop a bomb on him.How friggin’ clever.This movie was not the worst thing ever made,but it was a misfire.I’ll always stick up for most of Frank’s work up until the last several years,but this was a disappointment.

    • May 24, 2010 10:34 pm

      Yes, I’m a fan of Miller’s early work so it was kind of hard to enjoy it especially with his more recent comic work not being as good. I agree, the Spirit is a detective who solves crimes and not Marv who is a thug who beats people to a bloody pulp. Even if Miller did give the Spirit a trench coat with padded shoulders, he is no Marv. Also, I get that this was billed as The Spirit in the style of Sin City, but I just didn’t expect it to be so clunky. I guess that says more about the direction than it does about anything else.

  2. May 26, 2010 12:43 am

    I toughly enjoyed this review….more than I actually enjoyed this movie. You were pretty spot on with all of your criticisms. I you ever get the chance (for free mind you) you have to listen to Frank Miller’s commentary on the dvd. It is totally worth sitting through this piece of shit again.

    Also, I found it very entertaining that you spelled Frank Miller’s name correctly the first time you used it and then spelled it “Millar” for the rest of the review. They have both gotten to the point where it’s tough to tell their awful writing from one anothers.


    • May 26, 2010 12:44 am

      “toughly” should be “thoroughly”.


    • May 26, 2010 11:42 pm

      I’ll be on the look out for that commentary, and a Freudian slip I suppose with the miller/millar mix. I went back and fixed it just so no is confused. Also, I agree with you on how bad both of their writing has gotten.

  3. Mike F permalink
    June 20, 2010 12:31 am

    You guys had an interesting point tho. Two writers that once revolutionized the comic medium have been jokes.

    More so with Miller, since he really was a god. Millar just had a few hits. But Frank really changed the genre and then tried to keep changing it…

    • June 20, 2010 1:20 am

      Agreed, Miller to me is a legend, him and Moore I hold in high esteem. So, it pains me to see him make such a fall from grace. As for Millar, I just don’t know why his work made such a dramatic turn to shit in such a short amount of time. At least for Miller he had more than one good book under his belt before his work went to shit unlike Millar whose only good book in my opinion is Red Son.

  4. June 20, 2010 9:39 am

    Well since Hudson Hawk was’nt based on a comic, I guess I’m gonna have 2 stick with My Super Ex Girlfriend as my worst comic book movie. Mind u… I have not seen The Spirit
    Although from what I’ve seen…I wonder how Miller got close enough 2 Eisners’ body 2 spit on his corpse like that! 4 someone 2 have had so much “respect” 4 Will Eisner as Miller supposedly had $ FM 2 what he did was un4givable
    Now if we can just get somebody 2 roll Mr. Eisner back… all will be right with the world again.

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