Movie Review: ‘The Spirit”

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25 Responses

  1. mike weber says:

    I have to disagree with your easy dismissal of The Phantom.Aside from that, there's not a thing that surprises me or gives me any hope at all in this entire review.Minor point – i wonder where the idea that Denny Colt was a rookie cop has rien from, since every version of the origin story shows him in the same blue suit and fedora, and at least some versions refer to him as a "criminologist", apparently in the Ellery Queen vein.Picking at scabs, i have to ask which of the female characters gets degraded the most.

  2. Miles Vorkosigan says:

    Yeah, that's what I was thinkin', too.Matt, I've been a Spirit fan since there was a band by that name, and when I heard Miller was adapting it, I thought, "Cool! He'll get it right!"What I forgot is that this is the same man who, in addition to "The Dark Knight Returns", also gave us "RoboCop 2". His creative output is pretty well all over the map, and while he's had some hits, he's also had some really bad misses. A lot of fanboys have seen this and had the same reaction. I've been waiting for Roger Ebert to post his review. The fact that he hasn't yet bodes ill. I'm just hoping that somebody else, maybe Sam Raimi, will come along and do this right. But I'll be surprised if they do.Will Eisner said that the 1987 tv movie was so bad it made his toes curl. Wonder what he'd think of this mishegoss?Miles

  3. Vinnie Bartilucci says:

    "I have to disagree with your easy dismissal of The Phantom."Damn skippy. The film had a lot of good points, not the least of which being Catererine Zeta-Jones in leather. I thought Treat Willims to be a little too broad (but to be fair, when is he not?) but the film is quite enjoyable.And if you don't think Billy Zane can be a good actor, seek out Tales of the Crypt: Demon Knight. Also one of Jada Pinkett's first films.

  4. mike weber says:

    Ain't It Cool News has an extensive dissection at, which ends:I apologize if I got a little (or a lot, even) long-winded and rant-ish. I was inspired by the worst movie I’ve ever seen: “The Spirit”. Folks, this movie is that bad. I heartily recommend it if you have a strong stomach and an even stronger sense of Bad-Movie-Love. Otherwise, steer clear. God I want to see The Watchmen already.

  5. Marc Alan Fishman says:

    haven't seen it yet, but this is about what I expected after seeing the first trailer. Sin City was great, and somehow, Robert Rodriguez's frank-miller-worshipping somehow greenlit this picture. Ugh. I know Frank's up in arms with comic fans citing "this is what Will would have wanted…" making an argument that "the Spirit" was somehow in ANY WAY about the "future of the medium". Bull, I say. The Spirit (especially the material Mike Gold mentioned in his earlier post) was about the enjoyment of the medium. The Spirit is as pulpy as orange juice, and could easily been made well, by a storyteller willing to pay true homage to the noir roots. Warren Beatty got it with Dick Tracy! Bold colors, bold characters, and a twisty tale are all you need. Not green screen schlacked together, ADHD approved action sequences.What saddens me is that Frank's good material was so beloved by Robert and Watchmen helmer Zach Snyder, that somehow the studios figured Frank still "had it"… but this about proves it to me… He did.. and he don't now.

  6. Jon M says:

    Wait a minute. Denny Colt gets superpowers in this movie? Miller thinks that's what Will Eisner would want? Is he insane?

    • mike weber says:

      It's what Will Eisner would have wanted if he'd been as brilliant a Frank Miller.

      • Miles Vorkosigan says:

        I do hope you're flexing your sarcasm muscles. What you shoulda said was it was what Will would've wanted if he'd been as brilliant as Frank Miller thinks he is.Will worked in the superhero trade for a little while. He was the one that Victor Fox told to come up with somebody just like Superman, and when Fox got sued for plagiarism, Will told the truth.Read his biography. Will wasn't into superpowers, he was into story. The Spirit was well written and drawn, something I can't say for a lot of comics of the time, or even that much from just a few years ago. The superpowered Spirit is a cheat; what made the strip fun was him trying to solve crimes and dodge people that were trying to either kill or seduce him. What Miller has done is dumb the thing down, play to the lowest common denominator. Guillermo del Toro could do a far better job. Miles

  7. Michael A. Burstein says:

    Another vote fo The Phantom. I thought it was a pretty enjoyable, well-done film.

  8. CSMcDonald says:

    Another positive vote for "The Phantom" – I really enjoyed that film and I'm a big enough fan of the character that I've got most of the pulp novels that were published in the 70's and my own skull ring.Ok, geek/fan, tomato/tomahto

  9. Miles Vorkosigan says:

    Same here. The Phantom did a pretty good job of capturing the character. I'm looking forward to the new movie.Miles

  10. Miles Vorkosigan says:

    By the way, Ebert's review is out. It ain't pretty. He says that calling it cardboard is an insult to packing materials.Read for yourself.…Miles

    • mike weber says:

      Well, yes.If you read my other comments on this subject – from about the time the first teaser trailer came out – i'd hope it was obvious.To slightly paraphrase my characterisations of the late Lewis Grizzard and of Dave Barry, Frank Miller is almost as brilliant as he thinks he is.

  11. mike weber says:

    Huh. SOmehow that wound up hooked to the wrong comment. I was confirming that i was, indeed, being sarcastic.

  12. mike weber says:

    13% at

    • Miles Vorkosigan says:

      Jesus Christ on a Harley. Even the new Sandler thing, Bedtime Stories, got better than one star. And it looks stupid as hell.Miles

  13. Brian K. Morris says:

    Well, I rarely pay attention to reviewers (especially Roger Ebert). However, I've also discovered in my over-long lifetime a correlation between smoke and fire. I have a feeling I'll be waiting for this in the bargain bins before I see this violation of Will Eisner's creative vision.P.S. Put me down for loving The Phantom too! ("Okay Brian, you dress funny too." — thought I'd beat you all to that one) ;)

    • mike weber says:

      On comics- or old-SF-related films, Ebert is pretty good – he's an old-time fan himself (used to publish fanzines, i believe) and he knows whereof he speaketh…

      • Brian K. Morris says:

        Mike, I agree that Ebert at least acknowledges the source of the "comic book movie." However, I've never seen him cut a comic book movie any slack simply because it's born from a funnybook (and really, he shouldn't). My problem with Ebert is that sometimes, his review is more about Roger Ebert watching a movie than it is about the movie itself. Also, he will reveal the ending of a movie which is kinda dirty pool. And my main complaint with Mr. Ebert, he, like far too many film critics, don't share my admittedly lowbrow tastes. :)

        • mike weber says:

          My problem with Ebert is that sometimes, his review is more about Roger Ebert watching a movie than it is about the movie itselfWell, nothing wrong with that, if you've calibrated your tastes against his.As to revealing the ending, i can only recall one really egregious case (and that was while Siskel was still alive), when they ran a clip from the film with the one line of Absolute Spoiler dialog from the whole film.I recall *Newsweek* doing a huge spread on a Major Film, and including a still of a major chcracter's mid-film death…

          • Brian K. Morris says:

            If I found Roger more interesting, maybe it wouldn't annoy me so much. ;) It has nothing to do with our respective tastes (and please note that I'm casting doubts on my own more often than not) so much as I want illumination about the movie and its participants. But that's why there are different reviewers at The Sun-Times, right? :)And to be fair, Ebert hits more often than he misses, review-wise, even if he doesn't agree with me consistently.As for Newsweek, sigh … ;)

          • Rick Taylor says:

            See, that was Siskel for me.His review would always turn to the 'what they SHOULD have here done was…' part and I would holler at the TV 'but Gene, it's your job to review they MADE'!

          • mike weber says:

            Actually, that *is* a review of what they made – it's like someone – Pauline Kel, perhaps? – who said that, when she watched a bad film with a good basic idea, she would take her mind off how awful it was by mentally planning how she'd recut it – what she'd cut out.She went on to say that partway theough "Heaven's Gate" she realised she was trying to decide if there was anything she'd *keep in*…

  14. R. Maheras says:

    Here's my review, which I posted elsewhere after seeing "The Spirit" on Friday:Oh, man. I just got back from seeing "The Spirit," and shopping. Believe it or not, the two are directly related (more on that later). The film was painful to watch. Extremely painful. It was as if Ed Wood was resurrected, handed a blank check by some financiers, and then asked to direct a big-budget film version of "The Spirit." The only thing missing was Tor Johnson. Wait… that's not fair to either Ed or Tor. The Spirit movie was a disjointed, schizophrenic, self-indulgent mess. A seasoned filmgoer, my wife turned to me before the film even started and whispered sarcastically, "I wonder how many people will walk out?" I gave her a "Yeah, right" eye roll — not realizing just how prescient her comment would soon be. There were 15 people at our Friday afternoon showing, and six walked out before the film was half over. When this celluloid train wreck ended, I sat there numbly as the credits rolled. After a few moments my wife turned to me and said, "You owe me. We're going shopping." When she's right, she's right…