The Spirit

Dir: Frank Miller
Star: Gabriel Macht, Eva Mendes, Sarah Paulson, Samuel L. Jackson

The obvious touchstone here is Sin City: another comic-book adaptation, heavy on the visual style, played out in front of a largely non-existent (CGI) landscape. The key difference seems to be that Miller, unlike Robert Rodriguez, doesn't have a handle on the human aspects, and in his solo directing debut, these seem all but ignored. Denny Colt (Macht) is the masked superhero known as The Spirit, apparently invulnerable to all damage in the same way as his nemesis, the Octopus (Jackson). However, the villain is attempting to get his hand on the blood of Heracles, which he believes will make him truly immortal. The Spirit has to stop him, a job which brings him back into contact with Sand Saref (Mendez), his former teenage sweetheart who has now become a jewel-thief.

No question, this looks lovely, the cityscape dusted with snow that never quite seems to land on any of the characters. Certainly, in this aspect at least, it's a masterly conversion from comic-book to screen. However, it's surprisingly-talky, and the dialogue doesn't have enough punch to sustain interest in the majority of scenes - I perpetually found my interest wandering away to admiring the pretty backdrops. Macht certainly lacks the necessary charisma, and there are only occasional moments where the possibilities the approach could use, are truly explored. The most memorable thing in the entire movie is probably the sight of Jackson dressed in full-on Nazi uniform, and that's just wrong. While off-center moments like that round the fringe stop this from being a disaster, it's not much more than eye-candy, and largely deserved its status as a box-office flop.

[December 2009]

The Spirit of Christmas
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