Tuesday, April 23, 2019

The Spirit Of The Movies!


It startles me a little to think it's been a decade since Frank Miller's distinctive take on Will Eisner's class The Spirit hit the theaters. Despite Miller's cache from hits like 300 and Sin City, this movie was deemed by most folks I encountered as a mild flop. I don't know what it did in business, and I'm not that interested, but since we've not seen a sequel I suspect not well. The Central City presented in this movies is sure memorable, eternally washed in a dark and usually storm night, the city is filled with crime and violence and ripe for a hero to take hold of the grim situation. The Octopus is enemy number one and crazy as a bug. He's assisted by Silken Floss in a scheme to get hold of the blood of the mythological demi-god Heracles. In his way is The Spirit and the sometimes the cops of Central City led by Inspector Dolan. Also vying for mythic treasure is Sand Saref and patching up the endlessly injured Spirit is the loyal and weary Ellen Dolan. Lorelei shows up to claim Denny Colt's soul and Plaster of Paris tries to claim his head. As you can tell there are a lot of dames in this one.


And that's fine, because there are a lot of dames in Eisner's classic comics as well. But the brew here is perhaps overly full with not enough attention being paid to some of these very intriguing characters. There's no Ebony, but we do have Wildwood Cemetary. We also have an endless gang of cloned thugs with names like "Ethos", "Pathos", "Logos", and ultimately "Adios" and "Amigos". These are all played by the same guy and is just one of the visual gimmicks which populate and eventually dominate this movie. It's a classic instance of style over substance, and in trying to manufacture a new kind of film noir, a type with worked pretty well in Sin City, Miller falls short. The visual splendor invades the story and often seems to be the point. The Spirit ain't terrible by any means, but it could've been so much better.

I fished this movie out to view again because I just got hold of the 1986 TV version of The Spirit. I'll be taking a gander at that one tomorrow.

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4 comments:

  1. What was amazing about the Sin City movie is that it looked just like the Sin City comic, which gave some hope when Miller was announced on the Spirit. What we got was a Spirit movie that looked just like Sin City. Eisner's visual style is so distinctive and so theatrical, it could've been a whole new path, instead of looking like a spin off. This is weird to me; Miller obviously took much from Eisner in his early Daredevil. He's stated that his first scripted story, about Elektra, was inspired by Eisner's Sand Sarif tale. Eisner and Miller appeared on convention panels and even did a book together discussing comics, but apparently there was not the sort of synergy one would expect from combining the two creatively. A curious bit of trivia is that Miller also wanted to make a Mr. A movie, but Ditko refused to consider the compromises that would had to have been made.

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    1. We were spared a strange Mr. A then. You've nailed it though, Sin City was very successful but that same pallet applied to the Spirit was a mistake, though I know folks who love the movie. It's hardly unwatchable and has much to enjoy. The ubiquitous Samuel L. Jackson notwithstanding.

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  2. Didn't Don Glut make some Spirit fan-films in his youth?

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    1. Apparently he did and the Spririt crossed over with Superman and Captain America fighting presumably Wolfman and Frankenstein. Who wouldn't want to see that!

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