Short version: The Spirit is two hours of your life that you’ll never get back.
Screen Rant reviews The Spirit
That’s the first word that comes to mind as I think about The Spirit. It’s an example of a movie that just leaves me plain dumbfounded. It’s so awful that I’m completely in the dark as to how a movie like this can ever actually get funded, produced and make it into movie theaters.
The very first line of dialog spoken in the movie was utterly cheesy – and that set the tone for the entire movie. I wasn’t sure what I was in for… I’d seen the footage and the trailers and it ALL looked horribly bad, but I thought that there might be something else to the film that either wasn’t being conveyed in the footage we’d seen, or that would make what we HAD seen somehow “work.”
As Alex Trebek would say on Jeopardy: “Sorry, no.”
In The Spirit, former police officer Denny Colt (Gabriel Macht) (who was gunned down in the line of duty) is now a masked crime fighter in Central City. He’s alive because he was a guinea pig for a scientist’s experiment on immortality.
He doesn’t remember how or why he’s come back from the dead, and hasn’t really cared until his arch-nemesis “The Octopus” (Samuel L. Jackson) tells him that they have more in common than The Spirit thinks. One of the odder things in the movie (which was never explained) is his need to be tended to by Dr. Ellen Dolan (Sarah Paulson) to help him recover – even though he supposedly has Wolverine-like healing powers.
The Spirit works closely with the police and in particular with the Commisioner (Dan Lauria), who happens to be Ellen’s father. He thinks the masked one is losing it due to his obsession with the Octopus, plus he’s not happy with the fact that the Spirit seems to both put out and be extremely susceptible to pheromones – falling in love with every woman he meets. Ellen pines for the Spirit and even though he romances other women right in front of her, she still can’t help herself.
The Octopus is looking for the key to immortality, and even though he’s most of the way there, he needs to drink some of “Heracles blood” to seal the deal. He has a bunch of cloned henchmen all played by Louis Lombardi who make the “Otis” character in the Superman movies look brilliant by comparison. They wear t-shirts each with a different saying on them – the first three guys have either “Pathos,” “Egos” or “Logos” on their shirt. Later on as more copies appear they have other single, and progressivly stupider, words on them.
Following the swamp fight between the Octopus and the Spirit that included a giant wrench, a toilet and… wait for it…. the kitchen sink, the t-shirt gag was a clue that perhaps director Frank Miller was going for an Adam West/1960s Batman TV show type of camp with the film.
See but here’s the problem: “Camp” is actually supposed to be funny.
And what happens when camp fails to be funny? You’re just left with “stupid.”
There is so much wrong with this movie that I can’t take the time to document it all. There’s cringe inducing dialog (“I had you beat like eggs.”), bizarre visual choices (most of the time The Spirit’s sneakers glowed white), and idiotic story points (Ellen tends to self-healing Spirit while a police officer is critically injured by multiple gunshot wounds). Oh, I could go on – a flashback scene where the Spirit is talking to a cat (and there were a lot of cats in the movie… not sure what the heck THAT was all about), Eva Mendes as San Serif making a photocopy of her “perfect ass,” etc., etc.
The ONE scene in the movie that actually made me laugh was when the Spirit was tied up in a chair and the Octopus was monologing (you know, explaining his evil plan right before the good guy gets free and thwarts the evil plan) and the Spirit asks: “Is there a point to all this? I’m getting bored.” It echoed my thoughts completely.
I’m truly dumbfounded that both the studio and the actors involved in this read this script and STILL went on to finance/become involved with the film. Even on paper this MUST have looked utterly idiotic. If they thought that writer/director Frank Miller (yes, he wrote AND directed this train wreck) would be able to make this work somehow they were sorely mistaken. This is a perfect example of that Hollywood myopia in which you can have dozens (if not hundreds) of people working on a film, watching dailies – and for some bizarre reason no one can tell it’s a steaming pile.
The only reason I’m giving this even half a star is out of deference to Sarah Paulson, who was probably one of the best things in the film (and that’s not saying much) and to Gabriel Macht, who I just pity for having the starring role in this film. Hopefully it doesn’t kill his career – he seems like he’s a decent actor. As to Samuel L. Jackson – Good Lord, man… don’t you have enough money? Can’t you be a bit more discerning in what roles you pick? Pretty soon no one will take you seriously as an actor.
Some people may say this is “fun”… me? I’d use the word “painful.” Avoid The Spirit at all costs.
It’s not even worthy of the “so bad it’s funny” badge – it’s just plain awful.