Watching The Spirit get tangled up in his black and red suit wasn't only as confusing as Samuel L. Jackson's eyeliner, it was disturbing. A full review (with spoilers) explains why.
If Sin City was located in the scariest darkest portion of New York, then The Spirit's home turf is Connecticut. The monochrome style of Miller's movie makes you feel like you're watching another Sin City chapter, but this time on the good side of the tracks.
An all black-and-red palate doesn't bother me. In fact, I was amazed by Sin City's ability to burn images into my brain. I will forever remember Becky's glowing cross and earring set. Alas, the super-dark world of The Spirit never really pans out wide enough for something in CG motion to have that sort of delicate touch. Mind you this isn't a knock at the violence, as The Spirit never actually tries to be a violent film, but it looks so much like Sin City, you can't help but feel you're trapped in some terrible suburb.
Does it look like hell all the time? Certainly not. But was it distracting? Absolutely. Like one of the Spirit's many cats, I was easily distracted like a toy string by our heroe's red CG tie, along with the zoomy lines that followed Samuel L. Jackson around. But a few splatters of super red blood did remind me of the ink-on-film look they were striving for.
Our superhero patrols the land looking for eight-limbed trouble, and soon enough, he finds it. For the first 15 hours of this movie (well that's how it felt) Spirit launches into an all out battle of fists and toilets, while breaking up his evil nemesis' plans to drink the blood of Hercules (and become immortal). As I've said before, slapstick is an art, and combining slapstick and fighting apparently takes a lot more time than they were willing to spend. Instead, Jackson howls and shrieks at the camera, as if overcompensating for his lack of white gloves, and the Spirit punches the same spot over and over. It's tedious and feels like improv.
As the first actual realization of this never-before-seen bad guy, Jackson takes his character to a whole new level of crazy town, terrible eyeliner aside. His insane monologues reel out of control as he spews off putting lines like "deader than Star Trek" and obsesses about not having egg on his face, completely taking you out of the moment. Granted when coupled with his sidekick Silken Floss (Scarlett Johansson) the two seem to bring out the best in each other, and they nail the infamous Nazi torture scene. But the minute you separate this Miller-dubbed "Lucy and Ricky" team, it's all downhill for both of them. Jackson's madder than hell act starts to wear thin, waiting for the next actual funny moment.
When Scarjo and her cleavage work on their own, she joins the ranks of the other women in this film - as convenient plot points to move the story along. Characters like Plaster of Paris (Paz Vega) the angel of death Lorelei Rox (Jaime King) and Ellen Dolan (Sarah Paulson) are throw-away additions to the male team. They are merely there to prove that Spirit is sexy, because they all want in his pants. Also, Ellen is supposedly Spirit's ex-squeeze when he was Denny Colt, and you're telling me that not only does she have very limited pull over his actions but that she can't tell her dead boy-toy is standing right in front of her? (It's not that good of a mask.)
The final question I was left with was: Who is going to go see this film? I can't imagine hardcore Will Eisner fans wanting to see a Sin City-esque adaptation of their beloved Spirit, and it's not mainstream enough to pull in a wide audience.
Bottom line: it's a hero no one really knows anything about, and not even Scarjo's lady lumps will be enough to pull in real numbers. So what is it? A giant ad for Bulgari jewels? The Spirit is so wrapped up in being a monochrome, funny-ha-ha, camp film, it forgot to include character development and plot that might bring in a wider audience. With a few more edits and people above Miller checking the direction and flow of this film, this could have been the new cult bad movie I've been looking for. But as it stands now, The Spirit is a parody of this mans appeal, and not in a good way. Frank Miller out-Frank-Millered himself.