DARKMATTERS - The Mind of Matt

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Sunday, January 04, 2009

Film Review - The Spirit

The Spirit (12a)

Dir. Frank Miller (last film 'Sin City' - DM rated 10/10)

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

First a confession – I’m a massive fan of comic books and am always naively optimistic when they hit the big screen, even though for every awesome Dark Knight there are several weak Phantoms or Ghost Riders to endure. Now the genius that is Frank Miller, writer of my favourite graphic novel ‘The Dark Knight Returns’ comes a noir knock off of Sin City (which Miller co-directed with Robert Rodriguez). Based on the comic books by Will Eisner, The Spirit tries hard to be a cool stylized crime busting riff starring Samuel L. Jackson as the villainous Octopus and Gabriel Macht, as the Spirit himself. Unfortunately where Sin City was stylish and hard boiled to the max, The Spirit isn’t half as compelling and has a jokey tongue in cheek plot that never really finds a satisfying groove. By turns campy, cool, comic, dark and sexy – it’s hard to work out quite why it isn’t a massive triumph but it really isn’t anything more than a forgettable experiment.
There are certainly some things that The Spirit does right e.g. it has an abundance of quality babes led by Eva Mendes as seductive bad girl ‘Sand Seref’ and Scarlett Johansson, as ‘Silken Floss’ – the Octopus' slinky right hand woman. You see The Spirit is a ladies man who just can’t resist the charms of an attractive femme fatale and he’s spoilt for choice here what with Jamie King, Paz Vega and Seychelle Gabriel all on hand. He might be a vengeful hero who has returned from the grave but The Spirit is a womanizer at heart.
Set in a stark black and white lit metropolis referred to as Central City, but it could just as well be Gotham City or Metropolis, contemporary technology is fused with near future and yet everything is dressed as ‘40s style glamour.
The Spirit has been mauled by many critics, one called it ‘the worst film I’ve ever seen’ which is pretty strong damnation. It doesn’t take long before you realise that director Miller seems wildly out of his depth without Robert Rodriguez to back up his stylish flair. The fantastic look of the film achieves a convincing ‘graphic novel come to life’ style but the action is so disjointed and the characters are so utterly unconvincing that it is hard to recommend to anyone other than rabid film noir comic book fans.

Arbitrary Darkmatters final rating: öööööö (6)

Darkmatters quick reference guide (new for 2009):

Action 7, Style 8, Babes 8, Comedy 6, 'Spirit'-ual Enlightenment 5

+ The Spirit features an amazing noir look and feel...

+ Babes are the best thing on offer, Seychelle Gabriel is my tip for the future...

- Frank Miller really can't direct solo, fingers crossed Rodriguez will prevent him from ballsing up Sin City 2...

- Most memorable quote: "I'm gonna kill you all kinds of dead."

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