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The Blue & Gray Press | November 18, 2017

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Frank Miller's 'The Spirit': A Sub-Par Follow-Up to 'Sin City' and '300'

BY ANDREW CAMPELL

Many a movie-goer has been enraptured by the grit and romanticism that is Frank Miller’s work. Thoughts of the epic battles of “300” or the obscure yet intriguing storyline and ultra-violence of “Sin City” stir at just the mention of the director’s name.

It’s no surprise then that Miller’s latest film-adaptation of a comic book, “The Spirit,” met similar hype. The trailer makes sure to include the aforementioned credits to remind you of the potential “The Spirit” has.

However, after viewing “The Spirit,” any attempt to salvage this as a decent film, on par with Miller’s other works, is futile.
Based on a comic strip of the same name by Will Eisner, the film is set in the fictional metropolis of Central City. The movie chronicles the story of rookie cop Denny Colt, who miraculously returns from the dead to take on the role of the crime fighter known only as “The Spirit.”

“The Spirit” is in search of his longtime nemesis the Octopus, played by Samuel L. Jackson. The story revolves around Spirit’s search for the Octopus as well as a new villain named Sand Saref, played by Eva Mendes.

The Octopus is on a quest for a chest that contains the blood of Heracles, which gives its owner immortality. Sand Saref is on a journey of her own to find a chest that contains the treasure of the Argonauts.

After the chests get mixed up, the movie pans out to a scenario in which the Octopus and Sand Saref must meet to exchange the chests, all the while trying to dodge, and/or kill Spirit, whose only interest is capturing the two criminals.

Shot in the ominous film noir comic book style that made “Sin City” so enjoyable and refreshing, “The Spirit” leaves much to be desired in the storyline and character development departments. “The Spirit” is filled with many characters, most of whom are beautiful women (i.e. Scarlett Johansson) whose only purpose seems to be to distract Spirit from catching the Octopus and ultimately saving Central City from her demise.

The characters offer little emotion which makes them hard to relate to. Packed full of femmes fatale that all share the “easy on the eyes but with a cold, hard criminal mind” formula, the only real entertainment is the scenes with Samuel L. Jackson doing what he does best.

By that I mean  Jackson in a blind fit of rage and screaming at the top of his lungs. This is encapsulated by a scene in which the Octopus begins to fire various automatic guns to an alarming degree.

The fact that he seems to never be without the firearms and absurd amounts of ammunition they require further serves to highlight his character’s over-the-top persona.

Filled with cliché dialogue, minimal story progression, and little to no character development, this bland film marks a decrease in Miller’s productivity and is a definite pass for those who have yet to see it or were considering the act.

Hopefully he can rebound back up to his previous successes with the upcoming release of “Sin City 2,” which has been delayed to begin shooting sometime later this year.