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rainbowlightbrite26 December 2008
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.
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A real review from someone who saw it - no spoilers - just my opinion
crimsonica21 December 2008
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".

  • Crimsonica
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decent film
kairingler11 July 2013
wasn't quite sure what to expect from this one,, not being a real comic book fan I decided that I would give it a chance, second, I wasn't expecting Sin City, which by the looks of the boards most of you were. Samuel Jackson did a great job in this movie,, Gabriel Macht was wonderful as our hero, and Eva Mendez sexy as ever. our hero is in charge of doing good in the city and saving as many people as he can,, there are lot's of people who would rather not have him around Central City, especially the loathsome Octupus,, play by Samuel Jackson,, there are lot's of sexy women in the film,, good action, thrills, suspense , a lot of the good vs evil theme, I like the whole approach the movie took,, it takes you on a mythical journey to somewhere where you can only imagine,, a lot of people bash this movie because it's not like Sin City, well so what,, I didn't want it to be that movie,, this is a decent movie,, worth watching,, won't win any Oscars, but I really don't think that it was attempting to.
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A flawed but fun-filled romp.
A_Roode20 December 2008
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 it's hand.

'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?
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Strong Visuals, awkward script....half the people in the theater got up and left
netbusterss26 December 2008
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
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A comic book movie ridiculous? don't be ridiculous....
tully-ian15 June 2009
This movie faces a storm of bad reviews from people who expected a second sin city. in stylization and direction, it was, but with one key difference. it was just as absurdly over the top and ridiculously unbelievable as every other comic book to movie i have seen, except this movie had the guts to knowledge exactly how plain stupid it was.

This movie is a farce. straight and true. Frank Miller is basically poking fun at his work on Sin City, and the viewer must understand that everything about this movie is over the top. if your looking for a second Shawshank Redemption, something based off a comic is not the best place to look. however if you watch this movie merely to be entertained and laugh you ass off, this is a good movie to choose.

In the end, you have to watch this movie wanting and willing to be entertained, and not like Siskel and Ebert. get some friends, rent this movie, make some popcorn, have a good time. but for gods sake don't take this movie any more seriously than it does itself.
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Wrongly marketed, loved/hated, I loved it
Tagifras26 December 2008
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.
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I really WANTED to like this... But...
cafesmitty1 January 2009
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 uninteresting.

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.
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Frank Miller Does It Again
Knuckle28 December 2008
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 holiday season).

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.
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No spoilers here: Artful like Sin City, more humorous, not too long
yak-yak26 December 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Simply, this has the artistic appearance of Sin City, the same sense of time period only not rigidly so, and amusing dialog which in some cases is intentionally comedic and at times a little hokey like a comic book. It has an overall satisfying and polished feel. I'm not a comic-book fan but I enjoy a good comic book movie. I would definitely see it again. It's also not too long. All major players deliver. I won't say anything about how it ends...just that you don't go to the movie for the ending. Enjoy it all the way through, because the worth of the movie is not in the plot but in the characters and writing. If you need a morals-based assessment, try movieguide dot org Most of all have a good time!
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Lionsgate and Frank Miller are officially on Santa's naughty list with this Xmas disaster film
Skon23 December 2008
Warning: Spoilers
The Spirit is a film with few virtues. There's a fingerful but that's it.

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.
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The Lighter side of Sin City
Mash-the-stampede15 January 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Hahhaa! Call me crazy but I actually quite enjoyed "The Spirit" and I think that a lot of other people would too if they understood what type of film this is. This film is an action comedy, much like the popular genre in the 80's and 90's except done in a more "comic-book" style.

The biggest mistake or misconception that people make about this film is that this is NOT Sin City. Although directed by and written (for the screen) by Frank Miller, this is not based on a Frank Miller graphic novel and in no way should be compared to Sin City. I guess the confusion comes from the very similar visual style of the film but that's definitely where the similarities end. The first 10 minutes of the film make it blatantly obvious that this film is not meant to be taken too seriously with it's over the top action sequences and "comic-panel" dialogue. Just think of "The Spirit" as a visual comic book and it will make a whoooooooole lot more sense.

The hero of the film (The Spirit) was hilarious! Tough and heroic and almost indestructible except for the one weakness in his pants, as in he has a soft (or hard) spot for women......ALL women!!!! Still, I couldn't help but laugh at his awesome pick-up lines as they were delivered with such sincerity and conviction that I almost believed thoughs lines would work in real life!

Sam Jackson was brilliant as "The Octopus", an evil, eccentric and over the top villain/mad scientist! In fact come to think of it, what's not to like about this movie? It's action-packed, funny as hell and the women in this film are all beautiful!!! Eva Mendes looks the best I've ever seen her in this film and the women alone should be enough to see this movie!

I think that now days people are so used to special effects that nothing impresses us anymore and we forget the real reason why we go and see films such as "The Spirit", to escape reality for an hour and a half and to be entertained. Think about it, although this film isn't pushing any visual boundaries by todays standards think about if it came out 10 years ago i.e. pre- Sin City or Matrix...people would have been blown away!!!

I do agree that the genre of this film does only appeal to a small minority of people and for that reason a lot of more mainstream cinema goers won't get it but that's fine, it just means that this film will get a cult following of fans that DO get it and enjoy it for what it is. So if you still want to see "The Spirit" despite everything you've heard about the film and you're not a robot and actually want to have your own opinion, just turn off your brain, grab some pop corn or beer or both and leave all "Oscar-winning" expectations at the door and you should enjoy it!

The only thing I feel sorry for about this film, is poor "Muffin"!!!
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Hea, this is a nicely entertaining movie!
GeorgeSickler23 September 2012
WOW! What negative reviews. I'm an old retired guy and am not familiar with the director's other work. Nor am I familiar with this comic book character.

So, I gave The Spirit an "8" simply because I think it is entertaining, creative, good production values, tongue-in-cheek, funny, well-acted and written for what it likely is, a satire on a comic book series. I have seen a few others over the years that just don't hold a candle to it.

I caught this on TV late last night, in English with Spanish subtitles. Perhaps if I went to the theater with expectations on the director's other work, I might have a lower opinion.

But I saw it for free. And there was that babe, Eva Mendes! I wish I were 30 years younger. :-) And I didn't recognize Samuel L. Jackson as the Octopus until they ran the closing credits. He did a great job in an unconventional role for him.

So I think it's worth a shot. Give it around 20 minutes or so on TV: you can always change the channel.
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Awesome movie
darkstylewin7 April 2009
I seen the movie now 4 times, The first time i watch it, my first impression was that i was not really entertained because its confusing for a human being because we want to understand whats now really happen or what is meant with the storyline. But if your open you mind and your soul look to the aspects of life, in the context what is good and what is wrong, The evil and the and lost the love of your life, feelings and emotions. You can see some really funny details. Second time i watched it under influence of mushrooms i was overwhelmed with how this movie is created and how the artwork is done. You must be really creative and and have a open mind to make such a movie. So i can only say this, it is in my opinion not the worst movie ever, even in some ways it was perfect... I love it and for all that going to watch it, find your own spirit and then go watch this movie.

Life is just a ride, and when we ride enjoy what you see enjoy the ride. peace robin
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An incredibly long and winded self-indulgent un-movie!
burtsimpson55519 December 2008
Warning: 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!...
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The Spirit of Film-Noir
LeonLouisRicci2 September 2014
Ultra-Stylistic Noir and Cheesecake Fun, Filmed and Framed like the Comic Book from Will Eisner in High-Artistic Frank Miller Fashion. It is Powerful Imagery with High-Contrast Black and White with Color Touches. Much Like Sin-City (2004) from the Frank Miller Comic, and the Author-Artist was Awarded Co-Director Credit on that Ground-Breaking Movie.

But Folks Expecting the Gruesome Violence and Graphic-Gore that was so Unique in Sin-City may be a bit Disappointed with The Spirit. The Look is the Same but the Tone is Nowhere near as Dark. This One is Played Mostly for Humor, but there is Enough Action and Cool City Stuff that it Holds its Own in its Own Way and is True to the Source Material.

It was a Big Flop and Critics Shredded it Without much Exception. But They were Unduly Harsh and this Movie will be Watchable Years from Now as Pop-Culture Iconic and Artistic Playfulness, whereas a lot of those that get Great Critical Acclaim, and Academy Awards will be Ignored and Dismissed.

Recommended for Fans of the Character, Frank Miller's Style, and for those Searching for Something on the Edge and Atypical of Comic Book Movies in General.

This is Film-Noir Once Removed and Placed in the Hands of Comic Book Artists and Digital Craftsman who have a Respect for and an Admiration for the Genre and the Initial Time Period of the 1940's that had the Vintage Spirit Character and Film-Noir.
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I can't imagine what Frank Miller was thinking
angelynx-225 December 2008
I honestly thought he would treat this much-loved and admired classic with some respect. Guess I'm naive. It certainly looks gorgeous, but that's almost regrettable in a film that's otherwise so utterly, grindingly, gone-to-hell stupid. Awful performances (except by Gabriel Macht as Our Hero, who looks great with his wide earnest eyes and buff physique, and handles the lines about his love for the city with fine, tough conviction), jaw-droppingly overdone dialogue, what seems like hours of totally unnecessary comic material, it's just dreadful, and a great disappointment to me. If I ever buy the DVD I'll only watch it with the sound turned off.

Poor Will Eisner must be spinning in his grave tonight.
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A Dark, Madcap, Love Letter to the Master of Sequential Illustration by a Crafty Student
madbandit2000200026 December 2008
Movies based on comic book characters have invaded theaters like a fleet of ships nowadays. The main protagonists of the four-color opuses either have super powers and/or cool gadgets. The title hero of the quirky, over-the-top but romantic "The Spirit", has none, but that's doesn't make him uninteresting, especially in the surprisingly competent, script/directorial hands of Frank Miller, the Sam Peckinpah of the comic book industry.

Based on the 1940s comic strip created by the late Will Eisner, the master of sequential illustration and an influence/friend of Mr. Miller's, Central City cop Denny Colt (adept, GQ model-like Gabriel Macht) is killed in action. He doesn't stay dead for long when he leaves his grave and offers his death-cheating advantage, by being a "super cop", to top magistrate Dolan ("The Wonder Years" alum Dan Lauria). The reason of this resurrection isn't so good; Colt's the guinea pig of egomaniacal mobster The Octopus (Oscar nominee Samuel L. Jackson, who's a ball of fun here), who's also immortal, but wants bona fide, magical immortality by getting a vase containing the blood of demi-god Hercules. A screw up occurs, involving international jewel thief/black widow assassin Sand Saref (sexy Eva Mendes of "Training Day"), an old childhood girlfriend of Colt's. Guns are drawn; knives are thrown and sexual pheromones creep in the cold air of the metropolis.

If you find this film a Batman rip-off, you're so laughable to feel that way ( Eisner went to Dewitt Clinton High School, Bronx, NY with Batman framer Bob Kane) and if you think Mr. Miller should stick to comic books, you're certifiable (He could balance both film and comic books, if need be).

After co-directing the cine-translation of own crime saga, "Sin City" with Robert Rodriguez (the Spy Kids and El Mariachi sagas; "Planet Terror") and producing the adaptation of his take of the Thermopylae battle, "300" by Zack Snyder ("Watchmen"), Miller proves to be up to the task of helming a film featuring a mentor's signature character, whose own obscurity is enough to reason why Mr. Miller handled the film. I ask hard-core fanboys who demean Miller's treatment: who else could have direct it? Spielberg? Santa Claus? The Easter Bunny? The Tooth Fairy? Martians? Sure, there's the over-the top moments where Jackson's dressed as a samurai and a Nazi, and when Jackson clobbers Macht with a toilet (!), but if you've read Miller's work, you know what to expect: darkness mixed with madcap humor. If you don't, this is a fantasy world. Accept it or don't.

Miller uses what he's learned from Rodriquez here and uses it well. The mix-match of cornball movie dialogue (Miller's a film noir fan, as long as a lover of the Warner Bros's animated Looney Tunes shorts), vintage fashion and modern technology playfully echoes "Batman: The Aninated Series", and the use of digital background and minimal sets gives the film an avant-garde, stage play atmosphere.

Game are the actors. A second fiddle in films like "Behind Enemy Lines" and "Because I Said So", Mr. Macht resurrects the late Cary Grant and Chris Reeve (the latter watched the former in "Bringing Up Baby" in order to play Clark Kent in the "Superman" films, and Mr. Eisner used the former as a model to create his hero) with his valiant yet skirt-chasing persona while Jackson, a Miller fan, redeems his absence from "Sin City" by matching dire villainy with Macht's classic heroism.

Like Denny, it's hard to choose a favorite among the ladies: vixen Saref (Ms. Mendes should play assassin Mariah, if "Sin City: Hell and Back" is cine-adapted); the Octopus's brainy, sexy gun moll Silken Floss (Woody Allen stable actress Scarlett Johansson); Dolan's daughter/Florence Nightingale doc Ellen (Sarah Paulson of "Studio 60" and "The Notorious Bettie Page"), chipper rookie cop Morgenstern (Stana Katic of the crime drama TV series "Castle"); dancing torturer Plaster of Paris (Paz Vega of "Spanglish") or death goddess Lorelei ("City" alum Jamie King). It's a harem, people!

Mr. Lauria's bulldog, Ernest Borgnine-like demeanor is tough, familiar and likable while Louis Lombardi ("24") is a hoot as multiple "Smiley Goon" clones the Octopus mass produces. They probably share borderline Down's Syndrome, along with looks.

Mr. Miller makes a cameo as a cop who gets decapitated, his fourth "cine-death". First blown up in a drug lab in "Robocop 2" (which Miller co-penned and later demeaned), then cerebrally knifed by Bullseye in the film version of "Daredevil" (which he reinvigorated), next shot by Marv in "City" and now this…I should say, "Oh my God! They killed Frank Miller! You bastards!" Look out for comic book historical references.

What's also interesting is the exclusion of the Spirit's sidekick, young cabbie Ebony White. According to Miller, he didn't want to put a child in an adult world. I figured he didn't know how to modernize a racially stereotypical character, which Mr. Eisner later apologized for creating, and that's probably for the best.

In a recent Q and A, Miller joked if Eisner, who died in 2005, knew he was the Spirit's custodian, he would have beaten him up. If I were Eisner, I'd give Miller a big hug for making a shamelessly fun film, better than the cheesy "Sheena", based on another character co- created by him (with Jerry Iger). Eisner was wise to not have his name attached to it, but if he were alive, he wouldn't mind being name-attached to "The Spirit". It's in reliable hands.
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I have a city as my weapon … The Spirit
jaredmobarak20 December 2008
Warning: Spoilers
There is a lot to like about Frank Miller's debut as a solo director. The Spirit is shot with a similar style as his last film, Sin City, based upon his own graphic novels, and the imagery is quite stunning at times. I'm not familiar with Will Eisner's series for which the film is based, but after viewing scenes in stark black and white, with the bright red tie and blindingly white sneaker soles, coupled with the end credits artwork, I have to believe Miller did his best to bring those drawings to the big screen. The story too is intriguing, showing a superhero that works directly with the police; he is his own branch of the department, known by all and brought into cases like a detective. It's a refreshing take on the whole vigilante stigma that will be explained once his origins are relayed. However, while there is a lot to like, there is a lot more that will just make you shake your head in disappointment.

I've been told that the comic is very pulpy and hard-boiled with shades of camp and I hope that is true because the film goes overboard in all of those categories. I enjoy a little humor and some fun, but when it's inside of a film that is shot so darkly, so seriously, the juxtaposition becomes forced. There are plenty of good one-liners and the quick dialogue and rat-a-tat banter can be exciting, but mostly it is just plain laughable. What is The Octopus's fascination with eggs? He does not like egg on his face, he hates those brown eggs that come from chickens, and one of his henchmen is named "Huevos". Maybe I'm missing something there by not having read the comic; it just went way too long. Even the fight scene at the beginning between he the villain and The Spirit's hero works only in moderation. You become intrigued by the fact neither can be hurt, they heal from every wound, and The Octopus's cryptic talk about how they are two men uniquely alike makes you beg the question of what happened to them. However, the fight keeps going for ten more minutes—they bludgeon each other over and over again until they just decide to stop. I won't even go into their horridly ominous declarations of how they will meet again, "real soon", or how they'll kill the other "all kinds of dead". They just trade empty threats like that and go their separate ways … it's all kind of surreal actually and no, toilets are not always funny.

The film is really just an exercise in excess and how, unless one is experienced enough to handle that much material, it will all fall apart as a result. As far as pacing goes, the story becomes disjointed with abrupt interludes, (a short scene between the police commissioner and his doctor daughter that really goes nowhere except to explain Denny's relationship with Ellen) and all those somewhat stupid vignettes with Lotelei, the angel of death, and overlong exposition. Trying to go full-bore into style hurts scenes by making them too intricate and overblown. The obligatory bad guy telling the good guy his plan because the good guy is about to die scene lasted an eternity. Miller attempts to wow us with his sharp angles and quick cuts to close-ups dragging this Nazi-themed exchange out forever. Paz Vega is brought in for eye-candy and a necessary allegiance reversal before she is gone from the film again; The Spirit's quips serve only to make The Octopus talk even longer, and being played by the master of bombast and extreme Samuel L. Jackson, talk he will; Scarlett Johansson's speech does much the same in her matter-of-fact, emotionless delivery for the entire film; and the henchmen, (I like Louis Lombardi and the schtick is funny the first couple times), get overused, killing the joke before it even became cute. You watch the scene waiting for our hero to escape; you know he will, you just hope you don't have to be bored so much waiting for the inevitable.

As far as the acting goes, besides characters being mishandled script-wise, all involved do an admirable job. It appears that they are all having fun in their hard-boiled way, hamming it up to the camera with broad facial expressions and over-the-top speech patterns. I'd be interested to see what a guy like Rian Johnson could have done with this, someone who showed a sense of rhythm and timing in his stylized speech with Brick, someone who has a better understanding of pace than Miller perhaps.

With that said, I really liked Gabriel Macht as our lead, The Spirit. A relative no-name, this guy must carry the film on his shoulders, and I think he did the job well. There was always a sly smile on his face whether getting beat-up on the verge of death or flirting with the multitude of sexy women. He had the tone right and made it fun, even getting the deep raspy narration correct for the many "voice of God" moments as he explains what is happening. And since I mentioned the sexy women, there were some effective parts and some not so much. Eva Mendes was on the right page as well as Stana Katic, probably my favorite part of the movie as Morgenstern. She steals every scene she is in with her street cop accent and genuine sparkle in her eye with every compliment. Johansson and Vega, though, were purely eye-candy, giving some stilted performances. But I blame Miller for that, possibly being unsure how to direct them to get what he needed. Being coy and confident in your delivery is one thing, looking bored is a complete other.
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How could this movie be worse?
eliotmiller19 April 2009
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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I enjoyed it
davek2827 December 2014
It's not that I feel especially motivated to write a review about this film, I just feel that all the negative reviews fail to take into account people like me who know little of the genre or comics books and have no desire to compare it to Sin City (which I have seen).

I watched The Spirit on TV recently and I enjoyed it! There, I've said it. I thought it was stylish throughout. It had lots of tongue-in-cheek self-deprecating one-liners which I actually laughed at. I really didn't have a problem with the plot. After all, the plot doesn't actually have to make sense. Plus it had several foxy actresses (female actors) camping it up for all they were worth! As was Sam L, for that matter.

It might not bear a second viewing, but I'd be happy to take another run at it if I happen across it again.

It was fun and good to look at and entertaining. I enjoyed it! Seven out of ten.
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Finally a true comic book translation to the screen...
kmillervir26 December 2008
I was afraid to almost see the movie because of all the hype and advertising they did. Too many movies have been ruined for me because of hype, they just end being a let down.

However the Spirit did not disappoint. It actually exceeded my expectations. Frank Miller being a comic man in the soul, does a great job of putting that compassion to his art onto the screen. Visually amazing, and it kills me when people say "there was no pacing" or " the timing was awful." Have you ever read a comic book? The dialogue isn't read that way because of Miller's "inexperience" it's because he wanted it that way. That is how a comic book reads, short and choppy and points with boisterous outbursts and profound lines. Don't criticize something just because you don't understand it.

Along those same lines, many people have been complaining about the "juxtaposition of the theme." That it's trying to be funny and dark at the same time. I am just going to say it's safe to assume that none of these people have actually read the original comic book, because that is basically the whole point of the Spirit. He is an almost melancholy character in a chaotic city that has turned to all but jokes and fun. Suggesting a separation between him and the living world.

Comic book fans will love this movie, by far the best comic book adaptation of this recent comic movie trend. Miller stays true to what he feels passionate about and true to his late friends comic. Well done. Bravo.
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cult classic
Grotesque_Sphinx25 December 2008
I have to say this film won't win many moviegoers' hearts out there. Some people might think this film is cheesy, over the top, or just simply ridiculous. The thing is, this film jumps right out from comic book's pages. The scenes and the dialogues are just like watching moving comic book's drawings.

Frank Miller was born to direct this film. I like the way he put the over-the-topness to make a thick comical feeling. It's like watching the modern, noir, and sarcastic version of Adam West's Batman or The Green Hornet. Through all these years comic books have developed some changes to be more realistic, but this film delivers the feeling of old 1940s through 1960s comic books.

This film might won't hit a massive box office, but sure will win its own loyal fans out there.
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Not Your Teahouse of the August Moon
JBrannon14 July 2013
Warning: Spoilers
After reading a score of bewildered IMDb user reviews, I realize that most of the people expected something in the brutal vein of "Sin City" or "300", as if they all sat in for a screening of Brando's "Teahouse of the August Moon" and suddenly leaped to their collective feet en masse exclaiming, "This isn't Bruce Lee's 'Enter the Dragon'! This isn't Kurosawa's 'Seven Samurai'!"

Nor is Frank Miller's paean to Will Eisner a parody or sendup as many confusedly carped because it's breathtakingly faithful to, pun intended, the spirit of Eisner's creation. It's supposed to be funny, people! The exaggeration -- tossing in the kitchen sink -- echoes the source material.

In thousands of comic panels, the late Denny Colt was knifed, gunshot, bludgeoned, tossed from buildings, dragged through sewers, and betrayed by femme fatales who nevertheless fell in some measure to his boyish, indefatigable charm, even if they were clonking him on the head.

Miller had his hands full trying to distill all those decades of The Spirit's adventures -- and those beautiful women! -- into one story.

Some compromises had to be met. Samuel L. Jackson's reasonably restrained performance (compared to the portrayal in the comics), of the conflated character of Dr. Cobra (the villain who in the books administered the life-prolonging serum to the late Denny Colt) and the Octopus seems outrageous to the novice viewer who never read the series. Likewise the series' characters of P'Gell and Sand Saref are combined in the film.

The Spirit's boyish gallantry comes off as cavalier womanizing when so many of the important women in his life are crammed into one story. Though the script treats Ellen Dolan mostly as a doormat, the arc of Denny and Sand's star-crossed love is treated more tenderly.

Louis Lombardi delivers one hilarious line after another as the dim-bulb, eager-to-please, irrepressibly-positive clone set as he himself manifests a hybrid avatar of Stooge Curly Howard and William Bendix.

Visually, this film is one of the most stunningly rendered cinematographic pieces I've encountered even if the task required muting the elaborateness of Eisner's surrealistic cityscapes. At first, as a purist, I cringed at Miller's choice of **sneakers** as Our Hero's chosen footwear, yet found the choice arresting in the Rotoscope scenes where they enhanced following the shadowy figure through the snowy night.

There are other problems of artistic choice of which Miller cannot be as readily absolved.

Faced with the requisite compression of seven decades of noir and comedy, Miller veered The Spirit's character more toward dark harshness than the lightheartedness and optimism one associates with the character. More a rendering of Miller's Dark Knight Returned than of the plucky Boy-Scout Wonder, Central City's guardian growls more often than whistles.

Still -- fun romp, Frank.

Shame that so many walked into the wrong movie.
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All of the style of Sin City, but none of the soul
STFU_Donny26 December 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Sin City, it ain't. I saw this with people who said they liked it (they may or may not have been drinking), and that was accompanied by the disclaimer "... so bad, it's good." Just because it can be funny to watch something fail in it's own ineptness doesn't necessarily make it good.

The plot (MINOR SPOILERS): A cop (Gabriel Macht) comes back from beyond the grave as The (womanizing) Spirit. Due to a mix-up, his voluptuous childhood ex-girlfriend, Sand Saref (Eva Mendes), and the mysterious, make-up wearing Octopus (Samuel L. Jackson) wind up with wrong trunks. The trunk that The Octopus wants contains the blood of Heracles (because it will turn him into a God), and the trunk that Sand Saref wants contains Jason's Golden Fleece (because (and I am not making this up, this is the given reason in the movie) it's shiny). The Spirit is running around, trying to figure out what is going on, and seducing women as he goes along. (/MINOR SPOILERS)

Everything comes back to Frank Miller, the director, and that's just where the problem lies. He's really not a director; he's a visual stylist. He has a terrible sense of timing, from line delivery to the puns of poorly written jokes. The performances he yields from his actors makes this arguably the most overacted movie of the year... Come to think of it, this is also probably the most sexist movie of the year, with women being easily manipulated on the drop of a dime and only being interested in lavish, material things, never mind the fact that they are just being used for eye candy. The only thing this movie really has going for it is that is breathtaking to look at in parts.

Has this year's biggest WTF moment when Samuel L. Jackson comes out dressed like a Nazi for no apparent reason.
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