Thursday, 3 September 2009


I may be wrong but I seem to remember that yonks ago (and I'm talking over 20 years) sc-fi writer Harlan Ellison was involved with plans to film Will Eisner's classic comic strip THE SPIRIT. I do remember Ellison saying that the perfect casting for the character would have been a young James Garner - something I totally agree with, though, of course, even by that time Garner was too old. I am no fan of comics (I don't dislike them, I'm just not a fan) and even less of films adapted from comics. I quite enjoyed the Tim Burton BATMAN films and even liked the first two SPIDER-MAN films but have been left cold by the revived BATMAN franchise which seems to me to take itself far to seriously. Frank Miller's SIN CITY and 300 sort of worked for me but when reviewing both I expressed serious doubts about the way that the technology used to create them, impressive though it was, was leading. These films are a bit like very advanced androids - perfectly mimicking human life but totally lacking in any soul. They are all surface without depth. You really can't care to much about what is happening to the characters. I loved Eisner's THE SPIRIT and was encouraged when I heard that Frank Miller was going to "do it right" - well, what happened Frank? Knowing how protective Eisner was of his work why have you turned it into this good looking turd. Eisner and Miller were, it seems, friends and because of this you'd think that Miller might have wanted, as much as possible, to be faithful to the material. No such thing. I read that Miller signed up for the project on the day of Eisner's memorial service - et tu brute! Gabriel Macht is without charm as The Spirit, while Samuel L. Jackson goes totally OTT as the evil Octopus. It lacks pace, a good script and Miller's direction is woeful. A well mounted turd but a turd nonetheless. Rating *

1 comment:

Cerpts said...

Oh dear. The first time I saw an advance trailer for this film I thought "Wow, they got it COMPLETELY WRONG!" I was a fan of Will Eisner's SPIRIT and got all the reprints in the 80's. Not having seen this film, the only impression I can get is from your review of it (enforcing what I suspected all along) and the trailer which reminded me of similar wrong-headed 90's films like THE SHADOW or THE PHANTOM; they whole feel of Eisner's SPIRIT appears to have been totally ignored. And that actor is absolutely miscast, bland and sans any discernable personality. What a shame.