Saturday, April 04, 2009
Cast: Gabriel Macht, Samuel L. Jackson, Eva Mendes, Scarlett Johansson, Sarah Paulson
Director: Frank Miller
Runtime: 103 min.
Genre: Fantasy, Comedy, Action
IMDb users, mostly teenagers with plenty of time on their hands, concerned themselves with a little thread whose purpose was to rearrange the alphabets in the title of this film. What they arrived was a pretty usual tripe s**t, but that is not what is interesting. What is interesting is that this is the kind of film that is made from a source (Will Eisner’s The Spirit) that has a significant base amongst comic book fans and has been made by a man (Frank Miller) who is something of an icon himself. That the film still doesn’t find any favor is something that speaks volumes about its lackadaisical nature. You might wonder if this movie is bad enough to merit a viewing, considering especially the presence of hordes of busty females trying their very best to rack up the oomph factor. There’s Ms. Mendes, Ms. Johansson, Ms. Vega, all wearing as accentuating a gear as possible, but none of them can salvage this snoozefest, although none of them have been known to have done such a rescuing act in their past. There is bad filmmaking, there’s uninspired filmmaking and then there’s the plain ridiculous. Mr. Miller’s debut lands somewhere between there, and I confess here that I do not seem to find any inspiration within me to dwell any deeper and learn the exact point on the spectrum. Let us throw a ballpark figure and say you needn’t watch this one.
Mr. Miller is a smart man, and he doesn’t make your standard bad movie. What he garbs The Spirit within his one of those ultra-campy and ultra-stylish tones, where the supposedly over-the-top stylization is to work as some sort of excuse and probably an explanation that it is all intended as mindless pulpy fun. Never mind that all the visuals feel less pulp and more like vomit. This is a film that is more cartoon-ish than comic-book-ish, but even something as banal and repetitive as the Tom & Gerry cartoons know that you need to create characters that the audience would want to care for, characters who are a trifle more than ridiculously campy dialog uttering and needlessly stylized posturing placards. For instance when I describe The Octopus (Mr. Jackson) as the villain, I’m attributing a word that is a zillion times thicker than his character. When I describe Silken Floss (Ms. Johansson) as the vixen, I’m assuming she is a flesh and blood person, which she most definitely is not. In bringing the aesthetics of comic books to the big screen, it seems Mr. Miller was inspired to imbue the same spirit within all of his characters, or rather drain every bit of it and render them utterly two-dimensional. Of course, a misguided enthusiast might claim this as the genius of Mr. Miller and his perception of the medium and there would be no arguing such an ill-conceived stance. There’s no sense of narration to the film, and as is found in the medium of comic books, every scene of the film either deals in exposition or unnecessary display of campy dialog. You want a sample, you could wander of to the Memorable Quotes section of the film, although there’s nothing really memorable about them. I’m gonna kill you all kinds of dead, should be enough to keep you miles away from this de-spirited movie. Even the Nazis are invoked and Mr. Jackson and Ms. Johansson dress up and do some evil talk for reasons that are absolutely unclear to me. There was an old maxim that a Samuel Jackson movie would always be enjoyable no matter how bad it was. Guess that doesn’t hold true any longer.
Posted by Satish Naidu at 8:22 AM