The Spirit Review

Frank Miller delivers a tribute with his new movie The Spirit that is very closely aligned with the pulp style of his previous film Sin City. Based on the comic by Will Eisner, the movie harkens back to a forties-style era but retains a timelessness with its obvious modern connotations in a generically named yet alluring and mystical city.

The main character, Spirit (Gabriel Macht), exists in limbo, aware of his past but uncertain of his current and enigmatic conditions by which he currently exists. He loves his city through undying servitude. In protecting the city he is on an unrelenting hunt for his chief nemesis, The Octopus (Samuel L. Jackson), a situation analogous to self owned quest to earn one’s wings, or a proclamation to a right of passage.

Both characters are vivacious and unique. The Spirit makes the ladies swoon but he also has his candid and embarrassing moments that make him less picturesque as the perfect hero and thus more humble. His carefree and almost questionable promiscuity with the woman in his life is counterbalanced by his decisively poignant love for all of them. The Octopus plays like a mad scientist with a flair for the dramatic along with glamorous fashion sense. His maniacal contempt for The Spirit seems to derive less from the fact that he is being tracked down by him but more out of envy for The Spirit’s luck with the women. Both deliver robust performances that flow particularly well with the movies comic appeal and over the top action.

The Spirit’s biggest draw are its women who are undeniably incredibly hot. Silken Floss (Scarlett Johanssen) works with The Octopus and is a woman who knows what she wants. Sand Saref (Eva Mendes) is a good girl gone bad that aspires to be wealthy and pushes the PG-13 rating with her lack of modesty. These are arguably the sexiest roles ever played by these two actresses. Other supporting characters such as femme fatale Lorelei Rox (Jamie King) and Dr. Ellen Dolan (Sarah Paulson) really round out the “to die for” factor.

Where the Spirit goes astray is in its dismissal of much of the source material to which to diehards may find disappointment. The bold and vibrant colors sparingly used on objects and characters in a dark environment worked well in Sin City because it reflected the appearance of Miller’s own graphic novel but may come across as a tired gimmick in The Spirit. Despite suggestions that this movie is not a copycat, the casual moviegoer is going to see it as such, especially since 300 captured as much a distinct style as Sin City. Even though The Spirit is less monochromatic than Sin City, its dark subdued imagery still makes it appear as such and that may or may not be a problem for the Eisner fandom.

Despite its flaws, The Spirit is still entertaining and visually appealing with its unique staple trend of shaded environments punctuated by splashes of color, as well as it assembly of drop dead gorgeous women. The colorful cast and abrupt melodrama performances really help to further shape the “comic book brought to life” feel of the piece. In the end it may not be the best possible tribute but at least a worthy one.

– Chris Walsh

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