100 Days of Superheroes- Day 77: The Spirit (2008)
Is it a bad thing that I'm rooting for Samuel L. Jackson's character more than the Spirit?
“She is my city and I am her Spirit!”
With the Spirit we get to the first hyper stylized superhero film since The Crow. Unfortunately with this film you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. On the surface it may appear to be dark and attempting to replicate Sin City’s “graphic novel” appearance. Yet underneath it all, the movie has no idea what it wants to be, combining violence and adult sexual material with childlike comedy. This more than anything causes it too feel very unbalanced.
In truth The Spirit feels like it was made by people with ADD for people with ADD. It is sporadic in focus, convoluted, and tries way to hard to throw visual distractions at the audience by ripping off Zac Snider and Robert Rodriguez at almost every turn.
Let’s get into the story though. When a cop is killed on duty he becomes a science project for the villainous “Octopus”….no not Alfred Molina. He is resurrected and for all extents and purposes, is immortal. He decides to take the law into his own hands as The Spirit, watchful guardian of the city. He spends most of his time fighting grudge matches with the Octopus and trying to stop his sinister plot to “become a god”.
Like Sin City the movie goes for the noir- like vibe. In some aspect it is successful—usually when Spirit is talking to himself—but everything else comes off clumsy and silly most of the time. It’s like an eight year olds idea of what noir is supposed to look and sound like. It feels false and forced.
Also the films blatant over sexualizing of every single woman in the movie just becomes obnoxious. Now I love the ladies as much as the next guy but when every single one needs to talk like Marilyn Monroe and dress like a hooker it gets old quick. There are a lot of bad acting by women in this film (despite not being bad actresses) but the award for worst of the worst goes to Stana Katic who plays a rookie officer. She is so cringe inducing in every scene that I want to plug my ears and close my eyes until she leaves.
The main love interest, Sand Sarif is also an uninspired character. Played by the always gorgeous Eva Mendes she really doesn’t do much within the story besides being a source of puppy love for the main character. She never has a turning point where she becomes a person you can root for or even like.
To lighten the tone, the movie makes many an attempt at comedy, even throwing in some minions that only a preschooler would find amusing. I honestly hope no one is taking their preschooler to this film nor do I endorse it. Some of the worst comedy is painfully delivered by Scarlet Johansson with her deadpan performance.
In fact the acting all around the table were pretty mediocre to terrible. The only exception to this being Samuel L. Jackson as the lead villain Octopus. He manages to give a naturally offbeat performance and is the only real relief throughout it. Still, even his character has moments of being annoying due to over written dialogue and excessive quirk.
The main character of the Spirit could not be more boring, flat, and strictly one dimensional. He comes off as a moron in most scenes…like trying to ID a women by showing people pictures of her ass…oh wait…maybe that was another attempt at comedy. He also blunders into almost every trap set for him and escapes by nothing more than dumb luck. Honesty the way he is portrayed as such a goof screw up, I’m wondering how he accomplishes anything.
So that’s the Spirit for you. A convoluted mess with acting/writing that is so annoying it makes your skin crawl. The visuals in places are undeniably impressive and the film has some good ol’ fashion jazz music as well. These are only small bright points as it stands as a mediocre genre film that has been better done a million times over.
FINAL RATING: 2/10- (20%)
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