With the fanboys anxiously eying Zack Snyder’s Watchmen adaptation, Frank Miller’s version of The Spirit sneaks into theaters almost unnoticed on Christmas Day—good thing, too. Miller, comics-writing icon turned director, has rendered comics-industry revolutionary Will Eisner’s crime fighter Denny Colt a grim shade of dull—all talk, no action, save for a few slapstick mash-ups of old Warner Bros. cartoons and Miller’s own Sin City, which has the effect of turning Eisner’s Technicolor comic into a gray glob of hardboiled mush. Colt (Gabriel Macht, ehh), dead and deadpan, is a killed cop resurrected courtesy of the Octopus (Samuel L. Jackson turned up to 11), a baddie who now wants the good guy dead, I tell ya, dead. Complicating matters are the femme fatales stopping by between Maxim shoots: Eva Mendes as the lost love, Jaime King as the angel of death, and Scarlett Johansson as the Octopus’s extra tentacle. Miller gets away with his revisionist redo because, at this late date, The Spirit‘s been spirited away to the history books. Besides, the movie’s so full of nods to comics and their creators (from DC Comics founder Harry Donenfeld to artist Steve Ditko) that the fanboys will find room in their heart to forgive the desecration. Everyone else won’t care at all.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 24, 2008