Directed by Frank Miller.
Written by Frank Miller. Based on the comic book by Will
Starring Gabriel Macht, Eva Mendes, Scarlett Johansson and Samuel
Release Year: 2008
Review Date: 12/29/08
Bad sign #1: In the Sunday edition of The
Washington Post this weekend, the big ad for "The Spirit" didn't
have ANY of those random TV station reviews from, say, John Smith of
WABC in Tuscaloosa saying how "visually stunning" it was or how it
was, say, "the best action movie I've ever seen!"
Bad sign #2: this whole...fucking...movie.
Chi, Meg and I came to the same conclusion
during, and then after, our viewing of "The Spirit"--it is complete
and utter dogshit, bad from literally the first scene all the way to
its atrocious ending. Directed by Frank Miller, who many comic
book types would probably agree is one of the top ten comic
influences of the last 20 years, "The Spirit" isn't even a good idea
executed badly...worse, it is a bad idea--brought-back-from-the-dead
cop Denny Colt (Gabriel Macht) resurfaces as The Spirit, a
crimefighter with no special powers outside of being nearly
indestructible (NEARLY) who is going after a
similarly-nearly-indestructible bad guy named The Octupus (Samuel L.
Jackson, playing recent versions of his real-life persona). It
is established from the beginning that these two men are long-time
nemeses (is that a word?) and have fight scenes where they can't
kill each other.
Most of "The Spirit" is spent watching
attractive women strut around spouting shitty lines, or Macht doing
his best impressive of "The Phantom" while spouting shitty lines, or
watching the henchmen of The Octopus fall all over themselves...by
the way, they're all played by the same actor, Louis Lombardi, who
like co-star Eric Balfour are best known for being killed off as CTU
employees during their respective runs on "24." Wow, this
script is awful, and so are the film's mismatched personalities...at
times, this is like Miller's "Sin City"
(he created and wrote that franchise), but then it's an oddball
comedy, but then it's a violent revenge tale, but then it's a noir
gumshoe thriller...sadly, "The Spirit" does none of them well, and
it forgets that these comic adaptations essentially require action
sequences, and we get...zero. There is one fight scene in the
beginning (yawn), and then a moment where The Spirit infiltrates a
salt factory by punching out the henchmen. Uhh, hello?
"The Spirit" makes painfully clear how hard
it is to direct a major motion picture and have the result be
entertaining in the way you think it should; in other words, not
just anyway can show up on the set and make the magic happen.
My guess is that Miller--who saw his "Sin City" property directed by
Robert Rodriguez go gold, and then watched his work on
"300" be directed
successfully by Zack Snyder--thought about this and said something
"I'll bet you that directing movies is a
piece of cake!"
and then showed up to write and direct "The
Spirit" and he was dead fucking wrong. The job of directing
films is such a challenge and to think that someone like
Miller--comic illustrator/writer extraordinaire who will probably
look back and this year and thank his work on Batman comics that
Dark Knight" for his successful year--underestimated this task
so mightily is kind of a surprise. It should also get you
excited for "Watchmen", not because the trailer says so, but because
Snyder (who also directed the best zombie movie I've seen this
the Dead" remake) is the one directing it.
Rating: Hard Vice
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard