The Spirit Review

Published 6 years ago by , Updated January 3rd, 2009 at 9:13 am,

Short version: The Spirit is two hours of your life that you’ll never get back.

scene from the spirit The Spirit Review
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.

Our Rating:

0.5 out of 5

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  1. I thought it was fun, it stayed true to its lame comic origins. It was my kind of 2008 camp.

    Hey Vic didn’t you at least think it should have been rated R ?

  2. @790

    Yeah, now that you mention it it did seem a pretty “hard” PG-13… but that’s what I expect these days. PG-13 is pretty much R without the blood or explicit sex scenes – you can still imply sex or show nudity.


  3. I’ve noticed lately that all the these (on the edge) action/superhero films have to do is not use the F word and they can pretty much beat the R rating. Doesn’t matter how many ppl die off camera.

    I’m beginning to see more then ever, the trend in the MPAA system,,,
    The glitch in the matrix,,,

  4. So would you agree with that statement made by someone else that this was “Battlefield Earth bad?”

  5. @Ken J

    I’ve never seen “Battlefield Earth” so I can’t say. Based on what I’ve heard about it though I’d say that at least on an artistic level this has merits that put it above that movie.

    And I didn’t hate this as much as I did “Death Proof.” 😎

    I will tell you though, that if I didn’t plan on writing a review I would have walked out of this movie pretty early on.


  6. If the Spirit had been shot in normal circumstances (normal lighting etc) it would have been real crappy much like Vics review.

    But it was shot in “Sin City” style, and that’s what gave it its edge…
    I had a ton of probs with B.E,,, but you have to love the part (at the end)where the hero transports over to the alien planet and drops off the planet killing jar of Anti-matter…
    Aaahhhh,, the way the moon of that planet flew away in the blast was hilarious…! Sometimes one scene can make it all worth while,,, :-)

    I’ve only seen Battlefield Earth one time btw and I don’t own it.

  7. Crap now I just ruined the ending of Battlefield Earth for Vic,,,,, :-(

  8. @790

    “Lipstick on a pig.”


  9. Lol Vic, come on you didn’t Jacksons performance? He was totally over the top,,, I hate that guy and I was laughing my aas off.

  10. Lol Vic, come on you didn’t like Jacksons performance? He was totally over the top,,, I hate that guy and I was laughing my aas off.

  11. Hey vic, it’s Eva Mendez as “Sand Saref.”

    Thanks for watching this trainwreck so we don’t have to… I don’t think any of us were going to see it anyway. 😀 But, when it ends up on SciFi channel in 8 months, we’ll flip channels…

  12. Yah, back in the day, the site epinions actually paid very good royalties. So I used to write a lot of movie and product reviews there and got a few hundred bucks from them in a few months for nothing. I wanted to review Battlefield Earth, and that was the ONLY reason why I didn’t walk out and demand my money back. I was literally suffering during that movie… But I know how you feel. Well, now epinions pays crap for commission, you get like .001 for each ad click from your review or something, it’s something pretty pathetic, so it takes forever just to gain like a dollar… So I don’t do that anymore…

  13. What else can I say but ‘I agree’. Its one of those movies that made me feel embarassed while watching it.

    Like I said in my own review of this, The Spirit does for Sin City what Meet The Spartan did for 300.

  14. I sorry but “Death Proof” was an AWESOME movie

  15. @hahahha,

    Calling someone a loser for their accurate and with-the-majority review makes you a…?… a hyprocrite!

    I’m sorry about your low expectations for films :(

  16. I have said all along I would only see the Spirit if Vic gave it a good review.
    Thanks for not letting me down Vic!
    In a recent appearance on the today show Jackson and Scarlett said they realized it was actually a romantic comedy.
    Any thoughts on that?

  17. Ah, another coward loser that doesn’t even have the balls to use his real name. Come back when your balls have dropped kid.

  18. Talking to the little puss that calls himself “hahahha” of course.

  19. Well this review doesn’t surprise me in the least. Frank Miller has not written a good comic in at least one decade, possibly two. I know all the fans will tell me that Sin City is excellent and I am crazy but when looked at in connection with his other work, you see how terrible the dialogue is and how his art has degenerated into a mess. Don’t even get me started on his Batman work………

  20. Wow, that bad?

    ok, I wasn’t expecting it to be as good as Sin City was. But THAT BAD ??
    I guess that’s one ticket I saved for this year!

  21. @Vic

    I’m convinced. Thanks, you saved me at least some time better spent. I would have netflexed it maybe, and probably watched it on TV.

    Too bad…I like strange and weird, I just don’t like stupid.

  22. Oops, almost forgot.

    Bet Vic could spell hahaha, as most of us who have actually finished school and know how to read can.

    What does that make you, loser?

  23. Wow! Just wow! I am so sorry to hear The Spirit was that bad. I loved Sin City and liked 300 and given that this was a Frank Miller movie was inclined to go see it. I’ll skip though; I’m not into stupid and erm, can’t stand romantic comedy (LOL).

  24. Vic, I know how you feel. I haven’t seen this movie, and I don’t plan to, thanks to your review, but I saw one just as bad, if not worse than you say this one is about a year and a half ago.

    Since that one got a sequel, I anticipate this one will as well. Hollywood, and the general public, are known for liking movies as bad as this one. I’ll never understand how or why they make money off of them.

  25. Probably wouldn’t take a free copy of this movie now to watch at home…

    Thanks Vic..

  26. Already, I sense the threat of a “Director’s Cut that will fix all those problems” on the horizon. 😉


  27. Unfortunatly based on ur review or not, im being draged to this movie. Maybe ill play sick or just bring a book and flashlight 😛

    At least ill be prepared when I go see it 😀

  28. So bad in fact, this could be huge trouble for Lionsgate films. between the spirit and the punisher (only making $7million before they pulled it) things look bleak for them…