Saturday, January 03, 2009

THE SPIRIT - disastrous noir spoof from Frank Miller

"The only thought in my mind was, 'It's too big — I can't possibly do it.' And I refused. And about three minutes later as I was at the doorway, I turned around and said, 'Nobody else can touch this,' and I agreed to the job on the spot".

Frank Miller should have trusted his instincts and passed up the opportunity to go solo and direct the feature length adaptation of Will Eisner's seminal 1940s weekly serial. 

The strip was a noir thriller about a rookie cop brought back from the dead, living under his grave stone, investigating crime in Central City. Miller gives the book the same treatment as SIN CITY - using digital backgrounds penned largely in gray scale with occasional flashes of iridescent red - and the film is extremely stylish as a result. Miller also does the decent thing in consigning The Spirit's politically incorrect sidekick "Ebony White.

Every other directorial choice Frank Miller makes is wrong. First, let's talk casting. Gabriel Macht lacks charisma as The Spirit. All the other actors turn in hammy, self-referential performances that are painful to watch. It's not entirely their fault. Miller has directed this movie as a pastiche. The movie literally takes the piss out of itself like some dumb SCARY MOVIE flick. The result is a complete waste of time: alienating, unfunny, plain embarrassing.  I just feel that Samuel L Jackson in particular needs to be really careful about taking these sorts of role - after SNAKES ON A PLANE and his increasingly mannered performances he's in danger of turning into a self-parody.  Jackson plays The Octopus.  Uh-huh.  Not only do we see The Octopus' face but we get to see him dress up as a Samurai, and as a Nazi, for no reason than because Miller wanted a bit of sport.  I mean, seriously, how crass can you get?

Avoid at all costs. 

THE SPIRIT is on release in Indonesia, Italy, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, the USA, Australia, Taiwan, France, Iceland, the UK, Denmark and Israel. It opens next week in Israel, New Zealand and Poland. It opens on January 15th in Russia, Brazil and on January 22nd in Argentina, Finland, Iceland and Norway. It opens on January 29th in Germany, on February 19th in the Czech Republic, on February 25th in Belgium and the Netherlands. 

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