Not enough good to overcome the bad.
filmfan09 - wrote on 05/16/09
Unlike Sin City, which layered impressive visuals with an engaging, smart and fast-paced story, The Spirit doesn't have anything as remarkable to fall back upon. This is due in large part to the participation of adaptor/director Frank Miller (who is on his own here after assisting Robert Rodriguez on Sin City). The film takes the stylized neo-noir look of Sin City and marries it with the campy tone of the ’60s Batman series. As expected, it doesn’t work out very well.
The lead character is played by Gabriel Macht. As a result of something that happened in his past, The Spirit is made invulnerable. He can be wounded or injured but his body regenerates very quickly. The same can also be said about his nemesis, The Octopus (Samuel L. Jackson). The Octopus wants unlimited power and it's up to The Spirit to stop him.
At times, it's difficult to determine whether Miller intends for us to take the movie seriously or whether it's intended to be a parody or campy. The dialogue is misused, disposable, and lacking in emotional resonance. The acting is embarrassing, the humor is a little too cheesy and sometimes the drama is so corny and half-baked that it borders on laugh-inducing. The characters are unmemorable, as to The Octopus isn't sinister; he's just silly. The Spirit is far too boring to be able to hold the movie together. He's the least interesting of all the significant characters.
The Spirit makes it apparent that, while Frank Miller's ability as an illustrator untouched, he clearly has trouble conducting a comprehensible storyline. He'll always need the guidance of another to keep things focus, well-paced, and professional. The Spirit lacks the driving energy it needs to keep viewers involved in what's going on. It feels as if so much effort was poured into making the film look cool that other equally important areas were tossed aside. There are good things to be said about The Spirit, but not enough of them to outweigh the bad.