The Spirit (2008)
The Spirit (2008)

Genre: Action Running Time: 1 hr. 43 min.

Release Date: December 25th, 2008 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Frank Miller Actors: Gabriel Macht, Jaime King, Eva Mendes, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Sarah Paulson, Seychelle Gabriel, Stana Katic, Paz Vega




xtremely bizarre and only somewhat entertaining, Frank Miller’s “The Spirit” focuses all of its efforts on flashy visuals and cartoonish humor – forgetting to leave room for action sequences and a story. While the old-school comic book feel refreshingly replaces the humdrum bravado of the Hulks and Fantastic Fours of late, one can only handle so much Greek mythology, Nazis, and egg. Plus, despite the picture being far more about its imagery than its characters or plot, the look is wholly unoriginal.

After escaping death (kind of), Denny Colt (Gabriel Macht) dons the guise of the “Spirit,” an almost immortal superhero who tirelessly patrols the streets of Central City, attempting to rid the world of its most notorious evildoer – the Octopus (Samuel L. Jackson). When Denny’s old flame, Sand Saref (Eva Mendes), mysteriously appears in the town to which she swore she’d never return, the Spirit must uncover her ties to the Octopus and his own connection to the vile schemer – as well as devise a plan to stop the criminal mastermind’s latest plot for world domination. And this is all while juggling the affections of every woman he meets and the ever-nearing grasp of the Angel of Death.

It would probably be unfair to criticize the terrible acting, since one gets the sense that most of the ridiculousness is intentional. But perhaps the fact that it’s not completely evident is problem enough. The actors don’t have much to work with anyway, considering how clichéd and commonplace the dialogue is, which could either be attributed to Frank Miller’s take on the classic Will Eisner comics, or the way they were actually written. But since the look of the film is essentially 100% attributable to Miller and his inability to stray away from the impressive visual styles created for his previous project, “Sin City,” it can be assumed that much of “The Spirit’s” shortcomings are from the mind of the notoriously morbid writer. At least the wild costumes and gorgeous girls provide enough eye candy to keep the simpleminded marginally occupied.

Ultimately, however, the visual effects simply don’t serve any purpose here. And since they look entirely too similar to “Sin City,” they only give the impression that Miller is ripping off his own work. Plus, paying homage to Eisner’s original artwork from the ’40s comic book series couldn’t possibly require harsh contrasting blacks and whites and reds. Perhaps the only benefit is to give the whole goofy concept a little more seriousness and a spattering of darkness. Although much of the target audience will be completely uninformed about the source material for this otherworldly, masked crime fighter, it’s safe to assume that very little of the original Spirit is present in this surprisingly dull adaptation.

– The Massie Twins

  • 4/10