Ok, back to the comic book movies. Now this is one of those movies that looked interesting on a couple of different levels. I mean, it is a Frank Miller movie and since Sin City and 300 are both some of my favorite movies, you would think that I would be all about seeing this movie in the theaters. However, I honestly had no interest in seeing it, and this was before I heard the critic’s reviews or my friend’s comments about it. So if I had no interest in seeing this movie and my friends who did see it said it was bad, why would I even buy this movie, you ask? Well, I have to blame a random Blockbuster trip for the fact that I own today’s movie, The Spirit.
The plot: Denny Colt is having a dream about Lorelei, the Angel of Death, who says that he escaped her grasp but she will always be nearby, when he is woken by a call from Detective Sussman, who says something is happening in the swampland that could involve the Octopus, Colt’s nemesis. Donning his garb as The Spirit, he heads out to meet with Sussman, but stops to rescue a woman who is being mugged. The Spirit checks on the woman to see if she is ok, removing the knife one of the muggers stabbed him with as she watches, then continues on his journey, stopping a patrolman named Liebowitz to catch a ride. At the swampland, Sussman is looking around when a woman rises up out of the water and points a gun at him and shots are fired. When the Spirit and Liebowitz arrive, the find Sussman dying from his gunshot wounds and a flashback shows that as he was facing the woman, the Octopus shot him in the back. The Octopus then continues firing at the woman, who dives back into the water to meet up with her partner Mahmoud, who had found two chests in the water. The Octopus continues firing into the water, hitting Mahmoud and severing the rope tying the two chests together as the woman tries to swim away with them. The Octopus then dives into the water and retrieves the other chest and as he surfaces, he sees the Spirit and Liebowitz tending to Sussman. As Liebowitz leaves to radio for help, The Octopus attacks the Spirit, telling his cloned henchmen to take the chest to the truck, driven by his assistant Silken Floss, while he deals with the Spirit. The two men beat each other to the point of exhaustion until one of the clones shoots the Spirit as he starts to get up again. Octopus calls an end to the fight and as he leaves, tells the Spirit that they are alike, asking him if he knows why he can take so much punishment.As the Octopus leaves, the Spirit passes out and he regains consciousness to find Dr. Ellen Dolan, his lover, tending to his wounds. As the two start to argue about his recklessness, Ellen is called away to tend to Sussman and as she works on him, Sussman motions with his eyes at the Spirit, who grabs the locket that Sussman had grabbed off of the woman. As the Spirit goes to leave, Commissioner Dolan talks to him, arguing with the Spirit about his obsession with the Octopus. After leaving the scene, the Spirit looks at the locket and realizes it came from Sand Saref, his childhood sweetheart, and he decides to go look for her and find out what she knows. Meanwhile, the Octopus opens the chest he grabbed only to discover that it contains the fabled Golden Fleece, and not the Blood of Heracles that he expected. Killing several of his henchmen, the Octopus realizes that Sand must have the Blood and decides to arrange an exchange. Meanwhile, Sand and Mahmoud approach the dealer that sold them the Fleece and after taking back all of their money, plus all of his, he explains that he had no choice but to let the Octopus know about the shipment, then kills himself after they leave. The next day, Ellen is checking over the Spirit, who has healed from all his wounds, and they start kissing before Dolan and rookie cop Morgenstern show up and pull the Spirit away. As Dolan and Morgenstern take him to the dead fence’s office, they tell him about Sand Saref, who is suspected of killing the fence but the Spirit doesn’t believe she killed him as she had never killed anyone before during any of her heists. The Spirit goes to look for Sand and finds out where she is staying approaching her in her penthouse as she steps out of the shower. She tells him to mind her husband, who died while sampling the blood in the vase, and the two end up arguing over her actions. As the Spirit brings up her past and childhood dreams, she tells him that only one person knows about her dreams and she pushes him out the window. The Spirit plummets towards the street but is saved when his jacket snags onto a statue on the side of the building. He receives a call from Morgenstern, giving him a clue to the Octopus’ whereabouts and he heads to a nearby salt factory. As he makes his way to the Octopus’ lair, he is confronted by Floss, who kisses him before injecting him with a sedative. When the Spirit comes too, he finds himself tied to a chair and is confronted by Plaster of Paris, an assassin that the Octopus hired to kill the Spirit. The Octopus and Floss then arrive and explain how they created a serum that brought him back to life, then the Octopus injected himself with it. However, the serum is unstable so the effects could fade at anytime, which is why the Octopus wants the Blood of Heracles in order to become immortal. The Octopus orders Plaster to kill the Spirit but the Spirit is able to seduce Plaster into freeing him and he attacks the Octopus and drops a statue on him. The Spirit and Plaster escape but then Plaster stabs the Spirit out of jealousy in hearing Sand’s name. The Spirit stumbles to the water’s edge and falls in, where he is approached by Lorelei and he starts to embrace her but as he thinks about the women is leaving behind, he pushes Lorelei away and swims back to the surface, where he blacks out and is taken to Ellen’s hospital. The Spirit recovers and heads off with Dolan, Morgenstern, and the other police. Sand attends the meeting with the Octopus and tells Floss that she should leave before the Octopus kills her too. As the Octopus approaches the vase, the Spirit shows up and the Octopus starts firing at him, while Floss decides to leave the scene. The Octopus continuously fires at the Spirit, pulling at increasingly larger guns, until he finally knocks him down. At that point, the police head out and begin attacking the Octopus and his henchmen, eventually bringing him down. As he starts to regenerate and reaches for the vase, Sand shoots it before he can drink from it. The Spirit then gets up, revealing he was wearing a bullet proof vest and jams a grenade into the Octopus’ stomach. The Spirit pulls the pin, intending for both of them to die in the blast but Sand uses the Fleece to shield them both from the blast. As they recover, the Spirit hands Sand back her locket and she puts it on, then recognizing the Spirit as Denny, she kisses him before leaving. The Spirit approaches Dolan, who wants to arrest Sand but the Spirit convinces him to let her go for her part in saving them. The Spirit then approaches Ellen, who is upset at seeing him kissing Sand but he explains that Sand was an old flame but she is the one he wants and she forgives him, though she is still jealous about the effect he has on women while elsewhere, Floss finds one of Octopus’ toes crawling towards her and she picks it up and leaves with the last two clones, Adios and Amigos.
The Spirit was pretty much panned by the critics, holding a 14% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Though its visuals are unique, The Spirit‘s plot is almost incomprehensible, the dialogue is ludicrously mannered, and the characters are unmemorable.” Based on the 1940’s comic strip, Frank Miller decided to omit the character of Ebony White, the Spirit’s sidekick, partially because Miller felt the Spirit didn’t need a sidekick but largely due to his being typically portrayed as a 1930’s racial stereotype.
Yeh, this was a pretty disappointing movie. The acting was ok, with Samuel L. Jackson giving a pretty funny performance as the Octopus, but I was kind of unimpressed with everyone else. Actually scratch that. I also really enjoyed Louis Lambardi as the Octopus’ cloned henchmen and thought they did a great job of showcasing the whole “copying something too many times makes for copies of a lesser quality”. I also thought it was funny that all of their names ends in os, but the last scene with Adios and Amigos was a bit much. Having never read any of the comic strips, I have no idea how closely the plot followed the source material. I do think the story was kind of a mess, mainly with the pacing, while the narration was a little too over the top. I will say that this movie did have a good sense of visual appeal, similar to how Sin City was shot but with more flesh tones to the characters which just added to the noir feel that the movie was going for. As for the special effects, they were pretty good, being over the top in a comic book fashion several times, but I felt they could have done more with them. Honestly, I was disappointed with it but others might find it entertaining.
Rating: 2 out of 5