‘The Spirit’ Tanks at Box Office

Robert Greenberger

Robert Greenberger is best known to comics fans as the editor of Who's Who In The DC Universe, Suicide Squad, and Doom Patrol. He's written and edited several Star Trek novels and is the author of The Essential Batman Encyclopedia. He's known for his work as an editor for Comics Scene, Starlog, and Weekly World News, as well as holding executive positions at both Marvel Comics and DC Comics.

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7 Responses

  1. mike weber says:

    … horrified reviews from those familiar with the source material and poor reviews from everyone else. …Ooooh, i like that summation!

  2. Marc Alan Fishman says:

    Ha. My roomate and his brother dragged me to it. I'm glad my contribution to the film made no impact. Way to flop Miller. I hope they drum you out of hollywood on used copies of robocop 2.

  3. Miles Vorkosigan says:

    And here's what my Evil Twin, Peter David, had to say…***I knew I had a problem with "The Spirit" when the usher took my ticket.The usher looked at my ticket, blinked, looked back at me, back down at the ticket, back at me, and said, "The Spirit? Really?" Then he rolled his eyes, shrugged in a "it takes all kinds" manner and tore my ticket. As bad omens go, the only thing that could have been worse would have been discovering Mike Nelson, Crow, and Tom Servo sitting in the front row.The thing with Frank Miller is this: He's a power hitter. He takes huge swings for the fences every time out. If he connects, he drives it out of the park. The problem with power hitters is that they strike out. A lot. And when they do, it can be monumental to watch. They don't just stand there and watch a ball whiz by on the outside corner with their bat on their shoulder. No, they take huge hacks at it, swinging from the heels, and when they miss, they spin around, their legs twisted in knots and crossed at the ankles, and sometimes even fall flat on their ass.That's pretty much what we've got here. A huge swing and a miss.The truth is that, if you come at it from the point of view of viewing it as a surrealist comedy, it can be pretty entertaining. I'm going to focus on the positive aspects because (a) I am friends with most of the producers on the film, and (b) everyone else is dumping on Frank, so why pile on?A) It's the best film that Paul Levitz has ever appeared in. During one point as the Spirit is plummeting, Paul is visible in the crowd and is heard to say, "You'll believe a man can't fly." Seriously. I'm not kidding. Go run Paul's name through IMDB if you don't believe me.B) All the shots remained clearly in focus.C) Everyone's diction was really clear, and no one bumped into any furniture.D) I could follow the action sequences, which is more than I can say for "Quantum of Solace."E) The Frank Miller illustrations over the final credits were pretty good. In fact, if this had been a four-issue Frank Miller comic book series instead of a movie, I think people would have liked it a lot better.Here's the main problem: The film is like "Dick Tracy" on crack. The thing that made "Dick Tracy"…well, not work, really, but work as much as it did…was, first, the vividness of the color palette and second, Al Pacino contrasted with Warren Beatty. Scenery chewer versus a guy who was little more than scenery himself. Here we have on the one hand Samuel Jackson, who apparently wanted to out-lousy-movie his "Pulp Fiction" co-star John Travolta. He failed; despite what others have said, "The Spirit" is NOT as bad as "Battlefield Earth." On the other hand, we have Gabriel Macht as the Spirit, a character who desperately needed to have been played by Bruce Campbell. In fact, there's nothing in this film that wouldn't have been 110% better if Campbell had been in the lead, because he can carry off the balancing act that I think Frank was going for. "The Spirit" is at war with itself: A color scheme mostly of muted black and white (a flashback of Denny Colt lying dead of gunshot wounds makes it look like he's covered with pigeon crap rather than blood) is in conflict with the over-the-top script which is in conflict with the director's vision (bad news since the director wrote the script) which is in conflict with the actors (bad news since the director directed them.) So you get a film that doesn't know what it wants to be aside from a Frank Miller film. Lines that are intended to be funny fall flat; lines that are intended to be serious prompt laughs. Cloned disposable henchmen with their names on their t-shirts, apparently having wandered in from the 1960s "Batman" series, keep showing up in sequences that I suspect only Frank thought were amusing. In the sparsely attended hall where I saw it, the film garnered at various times reactions ranging from outright guffaws to incredulous shouts of "WHAT?" in reaction to some particularly absurd moment. Something tells me that isn't what Frank Miller was going for. The truth is that Frank was given his head on this film, and now critics are handing it to him. Is it deserved? To quote "Unforgiven," deserves has nothin' to do with it. Ultimately, is "The Spirit" THAT bad? No. It's just THAT not good.PAD

  4. Miles Vorkosigan says:

    Harry Knowles' dad, Jay, was furious. Snarling, spitting, chew-battleship-plate-and-shit-carpet-tacks mad. John-Goodman-in-Barton-Fink-wrath-of-the-gods mad. Like I said in another message thread, so far only one person has given it positive reviews, and I think Lionsgate paid for them. Elvis Mitchell seems to be willing to give it an honest look, but I think he's gonna be disappointed. Miles

  5. Tom Fitzpatrick says:

    Ouch.Poor Frank.I guess we won't be seeing Sin City 2 anytime soon.

  6. Anonymous says:

    It wasn't that bad. As long as you were willing to walk in and expect Frank Miller's The Spirit. It was ridiculous.. And I loved it. I didn't expect something that was Will Eisner. I expected what I got, a film written and directed by Frank "I'm the GD'ed Batman" Miller. I think the real problem is that just so many movies came out on Christmas. The Spirit was not a Christmas movie. P.s. Punisher: War Zone was a good movie as well as long as you like Garth Ennis' version of the Punisher. (Except for Doug Hutchinson.. he was weak).