Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Oh the bad things I’ve heard about this movie ‘The Spirit’ directed by comic book… errr Graphic Novel maven Frank Miller. A friend of mine’s daughter reported that she walked out after fifteen minutes, more than happy to discard the nine bucks she paid to get into the theater. Another friend called it the worst movie he’s ever seen. The reviewing press hasn’t been much kinder to this film that has garnered some pretty bad notices making many a critics ‘Worst Movies List’ for 2008. I was out of town when the critics screening came up so I missed it the first time around and after all the bad things I’ve heard about this movie I wasn’t all that excited when the DVD showed up at my door but considering the types of DVD’s that usually get delivered, I’m talking a litany of Sci-Fi Channel original movies sent to DVD after their TV runs, this movie couldn’t be much worse than those now could it? No, it’s not that bad and possibly because of all the terrible things I’ve heard about ‘The Spirit’ I really didn’t dislike it all that much. I’m not saying that it’s any good… Oh GOOD LORD NO!!! And if I’d seen it the first weekend it came out I’d probably have nothing but derision for it but in the comfort of my home with access to a full refrigerator and the pause button for an occasional bathroom break and not to mention the lowered expectations… I found the movie to be sporadically tolerable at times.

Gabriel Macht is The Spirit as he narrates this story telling us how he loves his city… over and over and over again. I get it already. The Spirit wants to bring down his arch enemy and the city’s top criminal The Octopus (Samuel L. Jackson) who like The Spirit is damn near invulnerable. Why these two dudes can beat each other with ceramic toilets, shoot each other and clobber each other on the head with crowbars and not be that much worse for the wear is a story in itself, but we’ll have The Octopus explain that to you if you choose to watch this movie. Chances are you know already.

The Octopus wants to drink the blood of Hercules, its complex. Another thing that the Octopus wants is in the possession of The Spirits childhood love and current

jewel thief Sand Serif (Eva Mendes). Drinking this blood will make The Octopus a god or something, and The Spirit too for that matter so it’s critical that The Octopus gets a hold of this stuff. While all this is going on there’s other stuff happening of varying importance… actually upon further review it’s of absolutely no importance. Quite honestly, when you break it down, that’s all there is to it in that The Spirit has to stop The Octopus from becoming a god or something.

There are some good things about this movie that simply can’t be ignored. For instance Bill Pope’s cinematography takes women who are already born beautiful and makes them even more ridiculously beautiful. Eva Mendes looks so good in this flick you just want to take a bite of out her. I don’t mean in a sexual way, though we certainly wouldn’t turn that down if offered, but I mean literally take a bite and wash it down with a cup of milk. Scarlett Johansson and Paz Vega already have more deluded stalkers than you can shake a stick at but their numbers will only swell after seeing these visions of heaven in this movie and if Sarah Paulson, Jamie King and Stana Katic haven’t gotten deluded letters from nuts declaring undying love then ladies, those stalker free days are now over. Hmm… what else is good about this movie? Samuel L’s costumes were sweet, Gabriel Macht’s red tie was off the chain, The Octopus was beating The Spirit with some dudes severed head which was kind of cool and… that’s about it.

Now I get the joke of ‘The Spirit’ with the problem being that the joke just isn’t all that funny. Yes, it’s completely over the top with the stupid clones, Samuel L. and Scarlett dressed up like Nazi’s and the horrific dialog hiding out as noir… but what good is over the top if the bottom has no substance and as such there is no baseline supporting this nonsense except the slick look, crazy costumes and beautiful women.

Mr. Miller doesn’t seem to be much into directing his actors all that much either. Now they all seemed to get the joke with Sarah Paulson’s plucky doctor and Eva Mendes’ femme fatale pretty much the only characters dialed in on the joke, but my man might have asked Samuel L. to tone it down just a little bit and maybe have his super fit athletic hero amp it up just a little bit. Just a little bit I’m thinking.

But I didn’t hate this movie. It is nonsense, it is at times painful to listen to what is coming out of the characters mouths and I couldn’t agree with The Spirit more as he was urging The Octopus to ‘move it along’ while he was giving his long, drawn out ‘How I’m going to kill you’ speech, and I can certainly see how as a multiplex event this thing would be a complete and total disaster. However as a rental delivered to your door for basically spare change from Netflix, shoot, it’s more than passable entertainment.

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