Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of stylized violence and action, some sexual content and brief nudity, 100 minutes
"The Spirit" is a highly stylized, visual mess
"The Spirit" has a good pedigree going for it. Highly stylized visuals based on a popular comic book. A seemingly visionary director with a handsome cast. You'd think with all that "The Spirit" would've come out a better movie. Wrong. Though dripping with style and intriguing visuals, "The Spirit" is spirit-less, wasting a pretty, talented cast and ending up with an incoherent, shallow story. And by the way, it's a crashing bore.
When a Rookie cop named Denny Colt returns from the beyond as The Spirit (both played by Gabriel Macht), a hero whose mission is to fight against the bad forces from the shadows of Central City. The Octopus (Samuel L Jackson) who kills anyone unfortunate enough to see his face who has other plans. He's going to wipe out the entire city. The Spirit tracks this cold hearted killer from the city's rundown warehouses, to the damp catacombs, to the windswept waterfront all the while facing a bevy of beautiful women (including Eva Mendes, Sarah Paulson and Scarlett Johansson) who either want to seduce, love or kill the masked crusader.
Frank Miller, who wrote and directed the similarily-styled "Sin City" and penned the hit "300," wrote and directed "The Spirit" based on Will Eisner's comic book series, though what ends up on screen is likely different than what Eisner himself had imagined. Miller strives to mix the comic book sensibilities with an old 40's movie style and contemporary special effects, ending up with a bizarre, odd and often uneven movie.
"The Spirit," much like "Sin City," is largely filmed next to a blue screen with much of visuals added later, and while some of it is cool to look at it, it tends to overwhelm the story, acting and characterization, which are sorely lacking here. In particular, Miller seems lacking at a script, with stilted dialogue, bad acting and contrived interplay that makes the movie worse; his inexperience at lighting or setting up a scene becomes all too painfully obvious when you have a hard time seeing the action onscreen.
Macht is a handsome but odd hero, and in his own typical style, Jackson all but chews up the screen as Octopus. The leading ladies are given little to do but look pretty in their stylish outfits, particularly Mendes, who comes across much like the movie itself - very shallow with little depth.
Worst of all, outside of the visuals, "The Spirit" is a bore, with little to offer comic book or movie fans for that matter. By the time it reaches its finale, most will leave scratching their heads or just plain uninterested. I don't recommend it for anyone wanting a good time this holiday season.