“The Spirit” – Susan Granger reviews

0 Flares 0 Flares ×

Big-screen comic-book adaptations can only go so far, as proven by Frank Miller’s first solo effort as writer/director, after sharing credit with Robert Rodriguez on “Sin City” and collaborating on “300” and “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.”

Derived from Will Eisner’s seminal 1940’s graphic series, set in Central City, it introduced The Spirit as a crusading murdered cop, Denny Colt (Gabriel Macht), who mysteriously returns from the dead, dressed in a suit, red tie and fedora. He was one of the first masked avengers. His nemesis is a crazy criminal called the Octopus (Samuel L. Jackson), aided by Silken Floss (Scarlett Johansson), Plaster of Paris (Paz Vega) and assorted henchmen (played by Louis Lombardi). And there’s a stolen elixir of eternal life.

Stilted, subsidiary characters flit in and out, like The Spirit’s boss (Dan Lauria), his doctor Ellen (Sarah Paulson), even his childhood sweetheart-turned-jewel-thief, Sand Saref (Eva Mendes).

Visionary Frank Miller falls flat here, sacrificing a potential franchise. Using starkly contrasted visuals (inky black, stark white, streaks of crimson), he’s created a bleak yet bland, big-screen illustration, a self-conscious, weirdly pointless parody.

Neither The Spirit nor the Octopus characters are developed, so there’s no emotional commitment, meaning there’s less at stake when they fight. And the props for their scuffles include a toilet seat and a kitchen sink. As for dialogue, it’s peppered with threats like, “I’m gonna kill you with all kinds of dead,” and stilted commands like, “Shut up and bleed.” It’s no wonder that the actors look inept. Even the production values are murky or maybe Miller didn’t care that back in the 1940s there were no cellphones.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Spirit” is a hyper cartoon-like 2. Give up on this ghost.

0 Flares Twitter 0 Facebook 0 0 Flares ×

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.