The Spirit was an over-the-top, ridiculous movie, and I enjoyed it…mostly. There are times when it is evident that this is Frank Miller’s first attempt at directing a movie on his own. These moments mainly show up in scenes with Louis Lombardi’s multiple characters. The timing created by the editing together was often awkward. I also do not think the scenes with Lorelei, the Spirit’s angel of death, were necessary. While the sequences make sense to someone that has some knowledge of the comics, they would be utterly confusing and distracting to someone that does not know who she is. Miller tries to explain it, but I’m not sold that it worked in the movie.
This movie is very well cast. Gabriel Macht, someone I had never heard of, did a great job with the personality of the Spirit. His voice-over narration add quite a bit to the movie. In fact, all of the actors had the personality of the characters down pretty well. Well, maybe with the exception of Samuel L. Jackson’s portrayal of the Octopus. Having not read any stories with him as the villain, I cannot say for certain if this truly how the Octopus acted. The interactions between all of the characters was a strong point of the movie. While I do not know if Sam Jackson accurately portrayed The Octopus, he certainly was entertaining. He was a good villain to be opposite of Macht’s Spirit.
Do I think this movie will be successful? Not likely. There are several factors working against it. The first is timing. There are four other movies opening this weekend, all with big name actors in starring roles. Secondly, this really is an odd movie. In staying true to the spirit of the comic (no pun intended), Miller has made a movie that might be a bit on the inaccessible side to the common movie-goer. Lastly, it is being labeled as a Sin City copy. While the previews have reinforced this label, I do think it is a fair one. This movie is not Sin City. This is as much Sin City as All-Star Superman was New X-men. (Grant Morrison and Frank Quitley did both books, for those that do not get the reference.) There are moments that go into the black and white silhouette shot, but only to highlight moments. The vast majority of the movie is shot in a faded color, noir style. The style works for the movie.
I do recommend seeing this movie, but try to go in with an open mind, and maybe some knowledge about the comics.