Friday, April 10, 2009

The Spirit ...pointless exercise in self-indulgence

Sometimes, when I bash the consecutive movie, it crosses my mind that there is a constant threat I'll be labeled 'cry-wolf'. True, not all movies are bad or equally bad, for that matter. And it is only natural that the most recent insult feels like the worst, gets all the accumulated bile and that doesn't allow for nuances.

Luckily for me, there are movies so undisputedly bad and so deserving all the punishment one can impose on them, that this thought starts to feel largely irrelevant. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome 'The Spirit', the bastard child of Frank Miller's newly acquired confidence in his directing abilities. I don't know about you, but I intend to hold Robert Rodriguez personally responsible for the ego boost he gave Frank Miller by crediting him as a co-director on 'Sin City'. Next thing you know, the guy takes the courtesy literally, actually believes he's a full-fledged director and (oh, the horrors) starts directing. Wait! Do you hear that? This is what a jet of vomit sounds like.

Don't get me wrong, it's beyond doubt Miller is talented. A lot of the impression made by 'Sin City' was because of his signature black-white-red inking, white blood and negative cutout scenes. 'The Spirit' has this unmistakable made-by-Miller look and every frame is beautiful. The problem is that being a great artist isn't the same as being a great director and when put together these frames don't make a movie. He knows the tools and applies them, he just doesn't know where and why to use them, so he applies them randomly (like inverting to negative cutout used to show the cat walking - whoa, what a highlight) or because he has seen how Rodriguez did.

That alone was not so bad and 'The Spirit' might get away with it, if it wasn't for the unfuckingbelievably bad script and acting. I don't think Samuel L. Jackson has a lower point in his career (I for instance definitely never saw him act worse before), but the other actors too have nothing to be proud of. Every single line they seemed to spew with disgust had 'phoney' all over it. The only performer who wasn't fake or strained like dog balls mid-January was Arthur the cat. The worst of the cast was the lead Gabriel Macht. His long 'Under the bridge'-like effusions addressed to the city achieved only one effect worth mentioning - eye-rolling, but his (and Jackson's) attempts at slapstick comedy were even worse.

Along with all this, the movie is rated PG-13 as opposed to 'Sin City' being R. Now imagine how noir can be a movie that has no violence worth mentioning, blood - once or twice, cartoonish, and no nudity whatsoever. Neither of these makes a good movie, true, but if someone intends to make a movie that is 'dark', 'noir' and whatnot, he shouldn't be that concerned about the teenagers' buck... Now, if you specifically go for that audience, that's a whole different story. A stupid one.
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  1. I agree that The Spirit is a film that you watch and then forget. In fact, when I watched the film, I was so dismayed by the useless and numerous love affairs that the Spirit has because 1) it adds no appeal to the story (although the actresses are undeniably gorgeous) and 2) doesn't make the story advance. Also add to that the uninspiring performance by the cast.