Movie Review: The Spirit

>> Tuesday, January 06, 2009

I was thinking since everyone was supposed to go back to work yesterday and I didn't need to, I would go to the matinees and watch a double-header. So that's what I did. I went down to the Riverview Stadium, the one that a shooting recently happened; a guy got shot for talking during the movie. I thought I had it set, it was THE work day so there were only a handful of people in the theater, there was a recent shooting in this particular theater, and the shooting is for talking during a film. Wouldn't you know people are still speaking loudly during the film? I guess the theater could have done some measures to remind people not to talk or plainly reminding them of the earlier incident by implementing metal detectors or leave some traces of the yellow police tapes but I guess in this economy, they could use every ticket sale they can get. Oh well. I'll just pull up my hoodie to drown out the noise and hopefully looking like the unibomber can weird those folks out into shutting their traps.

First, I have to point out that I've not been a Frank Miller fan. At least I haven't purchased any of his comics, but I do enjoy the visual styling of the movies that he lend his name to. Sin City was quite visually superb and I don't mind 300 either, especially with all the chiseled half-naked bodies, CGI or no CGI. Even so, I find The Spirit lack some luster.

I mean, when I was watching Sin City, the story was divided into a few segments, there was more substance. 300 had some historical background and a lot of actions. The Spirit didn't deliver as much at the substance side. The story is a bit simple, good ol' cop and bandit. Indestructable superhero hunting down a supervillain, the plot is as old as it gets.

Generally, The Spirit reminds me very much of Warren Beatty's Dick Tracy. It's artfully styled with certain color schemes, staged in the same era. It's about cops and villains and there's also vixens. Eva Mendes plays the Spirit teenage sweetheart turns big-time robber was really magnetizing. There are also a few other pretty girls in the film. Gabriel Macht is not quite convincing as the superhero, we never ever see his face, although his bare chest did show up a few times. The worst has to be Samuel L. Jackson playing a black Nazi mad scientist supervillain named Octopus. It's like he was imitating Jack Nicholson's portrayal of the Joker, badly. There's no building of the character or his background, his catch phrase is that he doesn't like eggs on his face. You just can't take that guy seriously and we don't have a clear view of how evil he really is. So he wants to be god, but who doesn't? Scarlett Johansonn plays the Harley Quinn to Samuel L. Jackson's Joker, regretably she was quite forgettable.

The funny bit that I like is The supervillain Octopus produces some crones and he named each of them with a name ending with "os". These crones are his muscles and their names are displayed on the white t-shirt they're wearing and Octopus goes through these crones like crazy. So during the start of the movie, we have high-brow names like "Pathos", "Ethos" and "Logos", by the end of the movie we have "Huevos", "Rancheros", "Adios" and "Amigos". That was very cute.

I'm not saying that the movie sucked, it's still a pretty decent one. It's just most of the things have been done, the story is quite predictable and doesn't quite pack a punch, the characters lack some oomph. It didn't inspire, it didn't introduce any new concepts. The styling is pretty. It's like some brainless pretty boy at the bar. I don't hate it, but it just didn't quite measure up. C+

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