Saturday, December 27, 2008

Review: "The Spirit"

Frank Miller's new film:



The source material:


If I were a comic book purist, I would be grossly offended by The Spirit. In this film, Frank Miller adapts Will Eisner's The Spirit comic book character into the more respectable and popular format of a major motion picture. In doing so, Frank Miller totally re-aligns the character's orientation, turning a goofy gumshoe/superhero more akin to Dick Tracy or Richard Diamond into a thinly disguised Sin City sequel.

The film style is exactly the same as Sin City. The pacing is the same, the look is the same, the characters are the same. Sure, we expect adaptations of comics to deviate from the original material, but this is ridiculous. I expected Frank Miller, as a comic book writer, to have more respect and creative distance than that. As Sam Adams wrote in his Los Angeles Times review, "Miller has simply transplanted his vision onto another costumed crime fighter."

Despite my harsh words, I do not totally disregard The Spirit. The similarity to Sin City makes for great visuals, and the blending of modern day gadgets with a Jazz Age look reminds one of how similar America is now to the Depression/WWII era. I appreciate Miller's effort to revive the noir style and hope that it is used by other directors. However, this is a lukewarm effort at best and not one that should be viewed as keeping with Will Eisner's work.

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