My review screams.
For all the people who thought this was gonna be SIN CITY 2. For all the people who cheered when Robert Rodriguez gave up his membership in the Directors Guild of America when it told him he couldn't share the credit with Frank Miller on SIN CITY. For all the people who drooled over the prospect of a bevy of powerful and beautiful women kicking asses and takin' names.
My review screams.
It was with a stunned silence at the preview screening that I watched the end credits of this film roll past. Now I've never read any of the original Will Eisner comics, so I wasn't judging it based on the source material. I really dug SIN CITY, as a film and a graphic novel, I got a kick out of the bloody and fascist spectacle that was 300, and I'm a big fan of some of Miller's comic book work, including two of my favourite Batman stories (THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS and BATMAN: YEAR ONE). So let's just say that I was cautiously optimistic about Miller's first solo attempt at directing a film.
But then there was the footage leaked from the San Diego Comic Con’s panel in July... this does not look good. In fact, it looks like a joke, a bad joke. A slapstick brawl between The Spirit (Gabriel Macht) and his arch-nemesis The Octopus (Samuel L. Jackson) in the mud, including a shot to the groin and the use of an actual toilet as a blunt instrument.
This is the scene they chose to show on a panel at one of the largest geek* conventions of the year. This was the calling card to their hard-core demographic.
*I can say geek because they are my people.
Months go by and I keep wondering, could it really be as bad as it looks? Contrary to what you might think, I don't walk into any theatre hoping to watch something bad enough to trash up and down the interwebs. I hope for greatness, I hope for at least some lovely moment or idea or line of dialogue to ponder and cherish. I WANT TO BELIEVE. I say this so you understand my full meaning. I'm not jumping on the bandwagon on harsh criticism. (15% on Rotten Tomatoes) And I'm not punishing Miller for All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder.
THE SPIRIT is an utter train-wreck of a film.
It is the story of a former rookie cop who returns mysteriously from the dead as The Spirit to fight crime from the shadows of Central City. His arch-nemesis is The Octopus, who is chasing down an artifact that will grant him true immortality. Then there are the shiny distractions of the beautiful and murderous women who do very little but pant over The Spirit (who's apparently something of a man-whore) and get plenty of costume changes, but not as many as The Octopus, who has seemingly raided a Halloween costume shop and perfected the use of sad goth eye make-up.
I'll work again, no one knows who the hell I am!
The film looks like unfinished footage from Sin City, existing in a vaguely 1940's film noir world, except for the occasional cell phone and digital camera. The dialogue is the same clunky Sin City speak that never finds a groove, or an actor who can rise above it. It's therefore hard to fault their performances with so little to work with, except for Samuel L. Jackson, who was apparently given no direction and ran with every idea for costumes or volume of delivery he could dream up. Miller needed to tell him no, at least once, but never did. Jackson chews up the scenery with great glee and somehow manages to become tedious about half way through this flick.
The cat-eye glasses I don't look through are UP HERE!
Worst of all is the overall tone of the film. Billed as a "classic action-adventure-romance" it comes across for the most part as a goofy 'comedy' that I intentionally chuckled with 2 or 3 times. Most of the time I was rolling my eyes and wondering how much longer it would go on. There are a few moments of spectacle that should be seen, such as Jackson and Johansson dressed as Nazis, or the brief glimpse of Eva Mendes' bum, but otherwise I would avoid this like the plague. It's only going to give Miller the idea that he should direct another movie, and that is not something the world needs.