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.