What’s it about:
Frank Miller adapts Will Eisner’s classic 1940s comic book hero. Gabriel Macht plays The Spirit (aka Denny Colt), a masked avenger who helps out the police to protect his beloved Central City. One night, he interrupts his arch-enemy The Octopus (Samuel L Jackson) who is buying a mysterious box from a thief called Sand Serif. Of course, Sand is a childhood friend of Denny's who turned to crime, can The Spirit turn her back to being good, and will he be able to stop The Octopus’ master plan?This film was pretty poorly received at the time but I kind of enjoyed catching up with it recently.
5 things to love:
1. The film uses a similar stylised black and white look that Robert Rodriguez employed on Sin City (which Frank Miller co-directed). It’s a gorgeous look and really enhances the film. Don’t expect any of the same crazy levels of violence as Sin City though this is very PG-13.
2. The film has a goofy screwball sense of humour. I think this put a lot of people off but I found it refreshing. Audiences don’t like seeing superhero be goofy. The Spirit goes back and forth between seriousness and silliness. At one point the Spirit is hanging off a building by his coat when his trousers fall down exposing his boxer shorts. Think more 60s Batman than Nolan’s Batman.
3. Frank Miller’s comic book experience means that he sets up a lot of shots as if they are comic book panels. Very dynamic shot selection. One of my favourites was that often when the Spirit fights someone he punches them off screen and you see his shadow beating them up on the wall. The film also, I feel, is Miller trying to draw some larger themes about comic book heroes and villains and how one creates the other and then they proceed to fight each other in a never-ending battle.
4. The eye candy in this film is off the charts. Eva Mendes, in particular, as Sand Serif has never looked hotter. The part where she photocopies her ass is amazing.
5. It’s a very bold film and doesn’t try to go down the same routes as other superhero hero films. It’s a crazy, weird, strange story. And given how similar so many superhero movies have become it's refreshing to see something that goes off the rails.
1 thing it did need:
This film had a number of problems. The acting is so large and broad it makes the film feel cheap. I think the whole thing could have been remedied somewhat if there was a better actor in the lead. I thought Gabriel Macht did well but it really needed someone with star quality to take control of the material. Johnny Depp maybe?