Gabriel Macht, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Paz Vega, Eva Mendes
Frank Miller (based upon writings by Will Eisner)
It's difficult to tell you what film opening Christmas weekend is the best of the lot.
It's easy to tell you the worst...Frank Miller's "The Spirit."
Miller, who earned himself a co-directing credit with his Robert Rodriguez collaboration based upon his own graphic novel, "Sin City," proves that, perhaps, he'd be better off sticking with graphic novels and leaving the cinematic world to the likes of Rodriguez.
Simply put, "The Spirit" is a mess.
The script is a mess.
The direction is a mess.
The acting is a mess.
Heck, the only way in which "The Spirit" actually works is, I fear, unintentional...it's a funny, campy delight.
If you're completely trashed, then you'll likely giggle like a schoolboy (or girl) at "The Spirit."
Based upon a comic book series by Will Eisner, "The Spirit" tells the story of a murdered cop who mysteriously comes back as a masked, dressed to the nines superhero (Gabriel Macht) with a key nemesis called The Octopus (Samuel L. Jackson), an ex-girlfriend turned jewel thief (Eva Mendes), Octopus's sidekick (Scarlett Johansson) and a French assassin (Paz Vega).
If you've ever doubted Robert Rodriguez as a director, you merely need to see this film to discover his brilliance. "The Spirit" looks and feels like a sequel to "Sin City," but ends up playing like a bastard stepchild to an Uwe Boll video game-inspired film.
There's not a decent performance across the board.
Gabriel Macht ("A Love Song for Bobby Long") is bland, seemingly disinterested.
Jackson? Let's face it...wehen Jackson is on he's one of Hollywood's best actors. When he's off? Well, it's downright embarrassing.
Johansson? Can anyone tell me Johansson's last decent film? I like her, I really do...but, this film was simply a bad idea and it doesn't work for her.
Eva Mendes either gets in touch with the film's inherent campiness or gives the worst performance of her life...I'm not sure which, but even if unintentional she gives the film's most entertaining performance.
The film's look is dark and moody, but there's almost no story to go with it. For the second time in one weekend, the first being "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," there's nary a semblance of faithfulness to the source material. Miller seems content to paint cool looking visuals that may or may not actually mean something, but they sure don't enhance the film.
Every year, my Christmas day tradition includes a viewing of a horror film. This year, I had to rent one as there wasn't a horror film in theatres anywhere around Central Indiana. Instead, however, I had the displeasure of seeing "The Spirit," a truly horrible film.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic