Saturday, May 17, 2014

Instant Action: The Spirit (2008)

That's a lot of fake CG backdrops for one film!

Screenplay By: Frank Miller
Directed By: Frank Miller

The Spirit is what happens when a man with the maturity of a teenage boy is allowed to make a film. That doesn't guarantee a bad or terrible film, but it can certainly result in a film of very low quality. I stopped caring about Frank Miller as a comic book writer sometime around the late 1990s, when it became all too clear that he had nothing new to say and that he was trapped in an extended adolescence. The same nihilism that infected all of Mr. Miller's comic book writing is present in The Spirit, which is unfortunate since the comic it's based on is a rather hopeful noir.

Now, I don't care much about the fact that Mr. Miller deviated severely from Will Eisner's work, that's fine by me. The problems with The Spirit go well beyond any adaptation issues. It's, simply put, not a well made film. Mr. Miller's version of The Spirit is all too fake and soulless. This is true for both the characters and the look of the film.

Mr. Miller's adopted the look of the Sin City film wholesale, which is fine but he's taken it a step further by making it where the characters aren't able to mesh with the computer backgrounds that surround them. When two characters are standing in the snow and not a single drop of snow falls on either character because the computer program won't allow for it, well that's just a terrible design flaw in the film. That's how The Spirit comes across visually, as one massive design flaw.

The characters in The Spirit can't be described as human, or even too comic book like. Rather, they are robots existing in a computer playground. This may have sounded great on paper, but in realization it leaves a film that is a chore to get through. It's easy to not care about any of the characters in The Spirit because Mr. Miller's plodding and tactless script never gives the viewer a reason to care about said characters. Without characters to care about it leaves the action hollow and empty, same with the story.

There's a scene in The Spirit where for no reason whatsoever Eva Mendes' character lifts the lid up on a copier, sits on the screen, and photocopies her ass. There's no reason for her to do this, it's only in the movie because for Frank Miller women don't matter other than as bodies to be ogled. Come to think of it, there's no reason for much of anything that happens in The Spirit. It's a misguided attempt at bringing a classic comic strip to the big screen. The Spirit should be the nail in the coffin for Frank Miller as a voice in the film world, which is okey dokey by me.



Bill Thompson

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