Harry watched Frank Miller's THE SPIRIT and yeah it has a lot of problems...
Frank Miller's THE SPIRIT.
THE SPIRIT is a film that I kinda enjoyed in spite of a great many problems. And even as I enjoyed what I did enjoy, I recognize that what I did enjoy about it would probably rub almost everyone else wrong.
Frank Miller's SPIRIT is Frank's attempt to do justice to one of his heroes' works. The film LOOKS gorgeous, although the aesthetic isn't right for the material. Going the SIN CITY route - for what cried out to be a technicolor super noir... well, it made me a bit sad, although graphically it does look spectacular.
The humor may drive some people nuts - like it did my father. CAMP and Comic Books have driven an entire generation to seek out the brooding Superheroes - that Miller helped exploit. Here - you have very silly and over the top camp humor. Sam Jackson's cloned sidekicks come straight out of Eisner's pages - but if you rotoscoped them, they'd come out of Carl Barks' Uncle Scrooge stories as the Beagle Boys. And I kinda loved them.
For me, this film is mediocre, but not because of the story, not because of the design, not because of the acting or even the writing. This film is so filled with solid work - the problem is... for me... with the score and editing of the film. It's the post-production that makes this film feel less like a finished work and like a first assembly.
The film feels like a rough draft - with tomes of material that felt like it needed to be snipped. The pacing and motion of the picture felt tedious. About 40 minutes in, I began nodding off. And it took Sam Jackson in a Nazi Uniform doing a crazed mad man routine to get my attention.
I have to say - there is no doubt in my mind that Frank Miller has the eye to direct. I also feel that he absolutely knows how to work with actors. That said, I feel he lost this film in editing and was too beholden to his own storyboards and writing -Frank is getting ready to embark on making one of my all time favorite characters - BUCK ROGERS into a feature film - and it is very important that Frank finds a very strong producer and editor that he will listen to.
This is Frank's first film out of the gate, visually it is exciting, but shows no growth from the co-directing effort he had with Rodriguez. With BUCK ROGERS, I hope to God he varies his visual style. That the tone is less helter skelter than THE SPIRIT.
If you can get past the camp, the pacing and if you don't mind the SIN CITY visual style being recycled - you'll still... most likely... be disappointed with the film. While I said up front that I like the film, but kinda in the same way that I like MEGAFORCE or XANADU or SUPERMAN III. Movies that are bad, but have a charm that somehow I like despite all their notable flaws.
I found the film to be morbidly amusing despite all the problems - but I saw the film with about 25 people - there was one person in the audience that really liked it. I like parts more than the whole and feel it's ultimately unsuccessful. And pretty much everyone else HATED it. And I haven't seen my father more angry at a film in a very long time. So if you go, know there's a likelihood that not only will you dislike it, but you could be moved to incoherent rage. Especially if you take comics very seriously.