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I must say that I was somewhat excited when my friend told me she got
us tickets to the premiere of "The Spirit", especially since I've never
been to a real premiere. It was an entertaining experience, all except
for when the film was rolling.
I liked Sin City a lot, and I thought 300 was intriguingly well made and quite entertaining. Let's just say that compared to 300, "The Spirit" entertains more like Howard the Duck. The entire film seems like a total farce, an unfortunate mockery of Miller's unique style himself. It has been a very long time since I've seen a film with such little (to no) heart, and hardly any soul. I must say that Sarah Paulson gave the greatest performance by far of anyone else, as the Spirit's unconventional doctor. She is the sole source of any feeling or depth in the film. Macht was also at his best in the lead role when sharing scenes with Paulson, otherwise, he barely filled the part. I don't know if that was his fault however, given that the character himself was depicted with very little depth overall. I never read the graphic novel, but I'm going to go ahead and guess that this doesn't do it justice. How can I say that? Because novels build key characters into "people" that you care about, whether you hate them or love them, the characters stimulate your mind on some level or another. This is far from the case in this film. There is very poor development of the characters, which the majority of potential watchers are unfamiliar with. Sam Jackson has unfortunately chosen another terrible role, as the non-intriguing villain, the Octopus. Jackson however does give us some of his crazy wild eyed antics that we've grown to accustomed to, although his character falls flat for the most part, especially considering his opposite on the screen, Scarlett Johansen. It almost seems as if Miller was asleep on the set when her scenes were shot. She's THAT bad in this film, with a deeply sub par android-like performance. Eva Mendes did what she could to somewhat save the film from being a complete and total joke, although it's pretty close to being just that. She plays the bling digging female lead opposite Macht. Now quite possibly the most annoying character(s) ever portrayed on film are the Octopus's cloned henchmen, which were frighteningly reminiscent in annoyance levels of.......... dare i say it... Jar Jar Binks. My four year old nephew would surely find some entertainment value there.
This film ultimately succumbs to its poor writing and direction, which are almost cleverly masked by the signature visual style of Miller, which is hypnotizing at times. Unfortunately, it's hardly hypnotizing enough to mask the true, soulless identity of "The Sprit".
I was very excited about The Spirit because I am a big fan of Sin City
and was looking forward to see Frank Miller in action again. Also, the
cast seemed to be a great lineup. However, it doesn't matter how good
the actors are if the plot and script are lame, and I am here to tell
you -- I don't even think the likes of Anthony Hopkins and Meryl Streep
could have saved The Spirit for this reason.
I kept waiting for the story to intrigue me and for the characters to develop. I watched a couple of people walk out of the theater about an hour through... Finally, I checked the time (never a good sign when you're watching a movie), only to discover that the movie was nearly over, and there would be no chance for redemption.
Aesthetically, The Spirit was interesting, but I couldn't help feeling like I'd seen it all before. The cinematography and graphics were pretty much a carbon copy of Sin City. I expected to see similarity (Frank Miller's style is distinct, after all), but not identical visual imagery.
Bottom line, I rarely see movies in the theater because it's expensive! For three people, we spent over $50 in downtown Seattle for this experience, and it was so disappointing. I hate to waste that much money on such a poorly written, boring movie. My recommendation is to skip The Spirit altogether (really, the plot and script are that bad). But if you're really curious, save your money and rent it when it comes out on DVD.
Big fan of Sin City, big fan of 300, bigger fan of Watchmen. The Spirit
was sadly a big let down for me. The visuals and art direction were
amazing, strong cinematography, very "Roger Rabbity" sorta feel with
the rotoscoping of some scenes, his tie, shoes, backdrops etc. The
script was supposed to have this sorta old school Raymond Chandler
sorta film noir sorta feel to it and it just didn't hit it.
Cheesy liners, a lot of the acting felt as if it was rushed, and some of the scenes were just very...awkward and boring to say the least. I went to a 10pm showing of it tonight and there was only about 20people in the theater. Halfway through everyone except me and my company left to "get their money back." Blah, hope Watchmen isn't as much of a let down :/ Totally not worth the 10bucks a ticket unless your a die hard DC fan and have actually read the Spirit comics, if not then its kidna not worth seeing, unless your friend has it on DVD and your high and need a good movie to pass out to.
Also does anyone else find that whenever they watch a movie with Samuel Jackson in it now, ever since Snakes on a Plane you just cant friggen take him seriously anymore? Its like every time he says a line or has some sorta goofy quote I just laugh in my head. ARG okay peace
I love the interview with Lorenzo Semple Jnr, screenwriter for 'Flash
Gordon,' when he suggests that the film would have been a big hit if
only they'd been able to market it as a movie that would be a cult
classic in thirty years. He goes on to explain what the core problem
is: A cult film, by definition has fanatical supporters ... just not a
lot of them. Those who 'get' the film will keep it alive forever, but
Joe Moviegoer won't care if he ever sees it again. And so I turn to
'The Spirit,' a film which has similar qualities to 'Flash Gordon': bad
enough to be awesome, tongue firmly in it's cheek and gentle satire in
'The Spirit' manages to be wondrous and infuriating. A visual feast, Frank Miller was the perfect choice to bring the film to life. On the other hand, the dialogue is often so cheesy and the characters so over the top that the movie never allows you to be lulled into that wonderful moment of forgetting that you're watching a movie. There isn't a single character in the movie who talks like a real person. They all talk like, well, comic book archetypes: gruff commissioner, megalomaniacal super villain, brilliant evil assistant, sultry femme fatales, loyal and uninteresting love interest, and on and on. Take Samuel L Jackson's character, 'The Octopus' for example. It is a character that Jackson was born to play and Sam throws every ounce of his endlessly entertaining and over the top style into the character. It works and he plays the part brilliantly because he takes ridiculous dialogue and ridiculous material and has wild amounts of fun with it. The cast, by and large, follow his lead. Scarlett Johansson is hilariously withering with her acerbic barbs to The Octopus' clone lackeys, all of whom are played with deadpan wit and verve by Louis Lombardi. It is hard, in fact, not to feel some pity for Gabriel Macht who has to play Bud Abbott to a cast of rollicking, scene-chewing Lou Costellos in an over-acting competition. It all works wonderfully if you're willing to view the film as, uncharitably, being unintentionally funny or more genuinely as a gentle lampoon of comic book films by one of the great figures of the graphic novel genre.
Frank Miller takes 'The Spirit' and has great fun with it. It is quirky at times, ham-handed at times, but lovingly made. A brilliant Noirist, Miller actually has much better luck in 'The Spirit' in moments of levity. The noir angles of this film don't work unless designed as a kind of self-righteous satire. The noir feels forced and dramatic moments are mercilessly skewered by the corny dialogue that a helpless Gabriel Macht delivers with straight-laced determination. 'The Spirit' has the look of 'Sin City' and the heart of 'Flash Gordon.' When it works, it works well, but the film is a terrible mess whenever it is trying to be serious.
So is it worth the ride? I think so if you go in with the proper expectations. There's not really anything new visually if you've seen 'Sin City' or '300' -- both Miller works of course -- but that didn't make them any less interesting to me. Plenty of humour where it may or may not have been planned and the potential to be a cult classic. This is the kind of movie you can best enjoy in the company of friends and a cold six pack. Look for diamonds and you're looking for too much. And if nothing else, Eva Mendes has never looked better on film than she does here. That's got to stand for something, right?
Spirit was marketed to be the next Sin City or 300 which makes you
think of hardcore action not quirky humor or PG-13
What most people hate about this movie I found awesome
Yes, one liners were cheesy. Yes, Samuel Jackson is in every movie ever. Yes, the acting was over the top. Yes, the film looks like Sin City. Yes, I loved this movie. Its so bad, its good. The one liners, the acting, and the style all made it feel like the comic strip.
The plot was a little thin but they had the back story catchup so you still get the whole movie experience.
The only major downfall I see to this movie is the PG-13 but thats why the DVD will be amazing.
You will know if you love/hate this film within the first 10 minutes so go see it and if you hate it, walk out fast so you get your money back.
I really wanted to like this but the main actor who played the Spirit
was just plain awful. And everyone acting was dreadful, the writing is
dreadful and the direction is dreadful. Maybe Frank Miller wanted that
actors to Over act and over act they did BIG TIME. Sam L. Jackson is so
over the top that it was painful. We were laughing at some scenes not
because it was that funny, it was just that embarrassing. The first
fight scene (not giving anything away), that the Octopuss had with the
Spirit was force and confusing and so out of place and completely
This movie is STYLE over SUBSTANCE. And it's hugely disappointing from the guy that was part of The 300 and Sin City. I guess every good person have their bad movies. I think perhaps Miller wanted the characters to be cartoonish. At one point, I wouldn't have been surprised to see an anvil drop on someone's head, thats how ridiculous this movie was. Perhaps one has to be a fan of the comic book... (or graphic novel in some circle) in order to truly enjoy this. I went with three other friends and 3 out of 4 of use thought it was awful and the other person just said, "it wasn't that bad".
That voice over of the spirit was just bothersome the entire movie. I was thinking... please, for the love of god, shut him up. The Spirit's voice over is irritating like Jock itch.
Now for the other actors, Eva Mendes is as beautiful as always and at one point I heard at least 10 independent dayums go out like some said it once at the grand canyon and you got 9 echos... .DAYUM! dayum dayum dayum dayum...
The other ones didn't get to do anything, except there are moments of irritating joy in the Octopuss' creations. The Spirit gets a 4 out of 10 for not actualizing the film that it could have been. It is a pass.
No really. He takes a property that is fun and clever and entertaining,
spews his well-worn brand of "dark and gritty" all over it, and
proceeds to waste a little over an hour and a half of your life (more
if parking was a pain in the rear - as it tends to be during the
We'll start off with what's right with this movie.
It's... um... "visually stunning?" Maybe. If you haven't seen "300" or "Sin City" or "Sky Captain" before. (Please note that while two of the three mentioned films are based on his work - there's a good reason they're watchable. You guessed it - he didn't write and/or direct them) And that's about it.
The acting was phoned in - it takes a great director to wring a great performance from actors who are given laughably bad, pseudo-noir lines to puke out and guess what? Frank Miller isn't a great director. He isn't even mediocre. He's just plain bad.
So, what possessed the studio to gamble several millions of dollars when Robocop 2 and 3 should have been all the proof they need that one shouldn't waste more than the cover price of a comic book on this man's dubious talents? I'd like to think it was drugs instead of just plain stupidity, but I somehow doubt it.
There's several good reasons why they waited until Will Eisner was dead before making this. Do yourself a favor, take my word for it, and don't waste your time and money finding out what those reasons are for yourself.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The Spirit is a film with few virtues. There's a fingerful but that's
Gabriel Macht delivers a certain charisma in the titular role as Will Eisner's classic middle-class superhero. This is his first time carrying a movie and had the focus been shifted more on him, his antics and his conflicts it would have been a better film. We witness some lovely moments when The Spirit talks about the love he has for his city, echoing something at the very heart of the superhero mythos. One scene has him even using the city as a shield, a weapon and a guide in his role as its guardian. These are poignant moments that evoke that somewhere underneath all the terribleness there might have been a spark of a good film here.
That's where all the virtues end.
People will probably gravitate to the cinematography of Bill Pope which does its best to marry Frank Miller's Sin City with the pulp comics of The Spirit's origins. But as pretty as the cinematography does look here and there, most of it is too busy, too dark and too careless. As a film that tries to show the protagonist's relationship with his city the cinematography should have created a sense of being in a vast metropolis. Instead the visuals feel completely green-screened and the effect is that the film ends up looking like it was shot on a stage instead of in a wide open city. There is also something that feels unfinished about the green-screening process as though some more work needed to be done and as such the film has the look of the cut scenes out of late 90's full motion video games with the characters standing out from rendered CGI effects like sore thumbs.
This is Frank Miller's first time out as a solo director. He is credited with co-directing Sin City and after seeing this film one realizes that Miller had very little to do with the physical directing on that film. It's sad to see one of the greatest comic book creators of all time helpless in trying to do justice to Will Eisner's creations. Miller even casts himself as a police officer whose head gets ripped off and used as a blunt weapon in the film's opening. One wonders if that was CGI or if the lack of any thinking going into this film can be blamed on Miller's headlessness. Either way it's an apt metaphor for a project that steams forward without any direction.
The film is a mess of tones and genres. Scenes tend to go on forever without anywhere to go in the first place. There's an overuse of flashbacks. And most of the dialogue is delivered in soliloquy (including a scene where The Spirit talks to a cat for 5 minutes). There are no subtleties in delivery, pacing or acting. Everything is blunt, harsh and cold. The audience knows everything in the first 15 minutes and it takes the rest of the characters an hour to catch up. It's frustrating, busy and excruciating to watch. Even attempts at humor fall flat. A running joke with 24's Louis Lombardi is amateur in its rendition.
The acting is where Miller's lack of film-making chops shows most prominently. Sam Jackson plays the Octopus, a villain whose face was never shown in Eisner's comics and rightfully so. Jackson is fresh off of a plane full of snakes and still acting like it. He plays the same tough character he always plays - shooting off big guns while shooting off his even bigger mouth. It's beginning to get boring and he needs to seek out more parts that explore his range. In order to make up for having no character depth or any credibility as a villain, Jackson and his henchwoman, played by the vastly overrated Scarlett Johansson, go through more costume changes than a Vegas strip show. Jackson goes from dressing like a pimp to a mutton-chopped samurai and even (I can't make this up) a monocled goose-stepping heil-hitlering Nazi in an offensive scene that seems like a bad pun on the classic Patton.
Further to the acting, there is a bevy of female characters that clutter this film in an attempt to create some element of pulp sex drama. Johansson's Silken Floss is just money thrown down the drain as she brings nothing to the movie. I've never understood her appeal and this film is perhaps best proof of her need to hire an acting coach. The Morgenstern character is a time-waster and eats up screen time lecturing the audience on the Electra principle (Miller you created a character named Elektra, you have a fascination with it, we get it, but it has no place in this film). To believe her character we'd have to believe that a rookie cop would be the only one to notice a gigantic clue two days after a crime scene has been cleared. Sarah Paulson and Eva Mendes, both in terribly written roles, try the hardest and as an audience member I appreciated that.
The free screening I attended last night had a number of rows oddly empty from the get go. And within 10 minutes about twenty people had already gotten up and left. The rest of us stayed because it was cold outside and perhaps hoping that things would only get better. They didn't. After the film we had a unique experience where audience members cultivated together, like strangers at a traffic accident, to criticize the film. People were upset over a film that failed in every possible way a film can fail and yet the advertising campaign paints it as a brilliant, exciting holiday adventure. I assure you it's not.
Lionsgate this is a train wreck. If this is your idea of giving your audience a holiday present honestly shame on you.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I saw the Spirit at a special advanced screening in Montreal yesterday
evening... Wow! what a bore-fest! Granted, Frank Miller's style still
makes for beautiful imagery, but Holy God, the man doesn't know the
first thing about about the cinematic language! Some scenes go on like,
what seems, forever! One scene in particular where the Spirit finds
himself tied to a dentist chair while the Octopus and his sidekick
Dental Floss, or whatever the name of Scarlet Johansson's character is,
talk and talk and talk for... at least twenty minutes! I'm kidding you
not! See for yourself when it opens.
There is no sense whatsoever of pacing or rhythm, scenes start abruptly and close for no reason, without ever building or leading to something else... The movie (or un-movie as I like to call it) is more like a collage of beautiful images. There is no real story, no real danger, no characters real enough to connect to.
I'd like to tell you to skip it, but you'll have to see it for yourself to believe how bad it is!...
I have been a Frank Miller fan since I was 11 yrs old reading Ronin. Loved Sin City ( the movie and the comic books ), 300, etc etc. So what happened that was so bad that I registered with IMDb to write this review? To begin, the minimalistic green screen style was fun for Sin City, but it just became pointless and tired. The acting?? It was brutally obvious that these actors were acting alone in green screen land. No inspiration, no passion, nothing but emptiness. I am 39 years old, I have been a reader of comic books since I was 8. How the hell did these characters make it to the big screen? "The Spirit" is a stupid character. With stories like "The Sandman" and "The Preacher" yet to be made, this was a big waste! I just wanted to put a warning out there, this movie will make you want to stick a shiv in your own neck.
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