Saturday, February 13, 2010

Review: The Spirit (2008)

Director: Frank Miller
Starring: Gabriel Macht, Samuel L. Jackson, Eva Mendes, Ellen Dolan

Okay, um...who let Frank Miller out of the basement again? This is The Spirit, and it is...well...it is kind of like...er...

Well, it's going to hurt your brain. That's probably the best way to sum it up. This movie is about as coherent as a Peewee's Play House crack dream, and I think it might even be less coherent than that. Based on a 1940s comic strip, this movie probably has very little to do with it, so I won't talk about it very much. Instead, let's just get right to the bottom of this cinematic ass fisting and see how many brain cells we can burn.

So the first thing you'll probably notice is that Frank Miller has washed out all of the colors in this movie to a very annoying looking black and white. Why? I guess it's supposed to be, um, artistic, or something. You'll notice a lot of ham-fisted symbolism in this movie, none of which works or has any real meaning, despite what some people might tell you. The only people who would ever find this kind of thing endearing are the same people who will tell you that Donnie Darko is the most meaningful film ever; it's really quite insipid.

And how about that narration? Gabriel Macht, as far as I am concerned, should never be let near a microphone to narrate ever again. But then again, Frank Miller wrote this crap, so let's just level the whole blame at him. The narration is corny, overdramatic and very juvenile. There are a lot of eye-rolling parts where it just sounds like it was written by a fifteen year old. Pathetic. Macht isn't that great of an actor and the dialogue as a whole is universally lame and dry. The characters are all very weak and I didn't ever really give a crap what happened to any of them.

But what will really draw your attention are the weird ass scenes with Samuel L. Jackson making a buffoon of himself as the evil scientist The Octopus, and some of these I really love, even despite their sheer levels of acid-drenched insanity. Like there's one scene where he's just sitting there watching this robotic foot jump around on a table...what the fuck were the writers smoking? But I'd be lying if I said it wasn't funny.

Jackson really is the best thing about this movie - although Stana Katic as Morgenstern had serious unrealized potential for humor - but they even fuck that up once they actually have him come out in a Nazi outfit and start sermonizing his incredibly weird, weird plan for world domination. I know the intention here was to be funny...but it's not. It's mostly just weird. It's the kind of thing that will just make you scratch your head and wonder why.

Most of the movie is like that. The characters are boring, the story is just all over the place and while there are a few parts I thought were really funny, most of this is just weird, weird, weird. The Spirit is incredibly confused and botched; not knowing what it wants to do, marred mostly by weak directing and shitty, shitty writing. I appreciate the creative zest that peppers this, but that's not enough; you have to actually make it work. And this doesn't really do that at all.