I never wanted to be one of those dudes on the Internet who criticizes everything. Especially not someone who criticizes a comic book movie for being a less-than-faithful adaptation of the source material. Especially not someone who is basing their opinion on a 2-minute trailer for said movie. But what the hell is going on in Frank Miller's Spirit trailer? [It's been taken down, but presumably not for improvement.] I mean, seriously? We get it, you've got some hot actresses in your movie. But at what point does the film stop being an adaptation of Will Eisner's classic hero and start being a domino-mask-wearing version of The Bachelor?
Frank Miller's The Spirit came out on DVD this week, and it was my first time seeing it. Despite being a lifelong Spirit fan and semi-regular Miller fan (I know, nobody cares about my life story), I had sworn not to go see the movie in the theaters after failing to recognize anything I loved about the original comics in any of the trailers, and felt vindicated as I heard the reports from my braver friends. The movie was a train wreck, they said, and I looked forward to giggling through it in the comfort of my home. Man, did I not know what I was getting myself into. The movie is such a bizarre, jumbled mess on so many levels that I had to sit down to figure out what was actually wrong with it, and if the wrongness could have somehow been singled out and repaired. It's obviously too late to repair anything, but if I could somehow go back in time and save something I should have loved from being god-awful, this is what I would fix...
To describe something as "spartan" is to say that it's simple, austere...frugal, even. It has a "less is more" attitude. It's a principle that applied, in a unique way, to that Spartan movie, 300. Writer/director Zack Snyder took less budget ($65 million is relative pocket change in Hollywood) and made more movie with more ass-kicking per square inch of screen than most films with twice the budget. King Leonidas and his band of merry men easily made the money back in the movie's opening weekend. Now Variety reports that Legendary Pictures and Warner Brothers are eager to repeat this formula for success, by making a sequel.
Perhaps hoping that the Christian subset of the movie-going public will confuse "The Spirit" as a holiday and/or Christian movie, Lionsgate has moved the release date of the comic-strip adaptation from January 16, 2009 to Christmas of this year. And while the more observant of us -- or at least those of us stuck in traffic in L.A. -- who have seen the billboards for the film with giant, noir-ish looking text reading "My City Screams" probably aren't mistaking it for a Christmas story, maybe the rest of the city really is screaming for Jesus. You never know.
According to Variety, the movie got a vote of confidence after Lionsgate brass presented the project to fans at New York Comic-Con. I hate to channel my 10 year-old self but, no duh, Lionsgate. Of course they were receptive to a comic-strip adaptation; it's Comic-Con. It's up against other Christmas releases like Marley & Me, The Time Traveler's Wife and Adam Sandler's Bedtime Stories, and only time will tell whether or not the greater public will be quite as enthusiastic as the comic book nerds.
"The Spirit," which was created by writer-artist Will Eisner in 1940, tells the story of Denny Colt, a masked vigilante who fights crime with the blessing of the city's police commissioner. Written and directed by Frank Miller (whose work also includes "Sin City," and "300") and starring Gabriel Macht, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson and Eva Mendes, the film will be an action-adventure romance that revolves around a slain rookie cop who returns from the dead to fight crime and track a cold-blooded killer. Which when you think about it, actually does kind of have Christ parallels. Perhaps the move wasn't so dumb after all.
There were a lot of fans of 2007's Frank Miller graphic-novel-cum-movie, 300. Most of them were guys who were fans of the graphic novel, many showed up to check out the unique look of Watchmen director Zack Snyder's vision, and some of us were dragged along against our will, but stayed for the beefcake. The number of fans was so great, in fact, that the movie ended up being the biggest opening weekend in March on record, and the biggest opening for an R rated movie, ever. Numbers like that are all it usually takes for a studio to clamber for a sequel, and news came out today that Frank Miller and Zack Snyder are happily both on board.
Forget Sam Jackson's cameos in Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk as [SPOILER ALERT FOR PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN CAVES] Nick Fury, Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. -- let's start talking about his Christmas-present turn as a villain in Frank Miller's The Spirit. Miller, co-director of Sin City and author of the Sin City and 300 comics, is back behind the camera, this time adapting the work of one of his comic book forebears, Will Eisner's The Spirit, and Jackson will be playing the Spirit's rarely-seen, striped-glove-wearing foe, the Octopus. Because as everyone knows, Sam Jackson can wear the heck out of a pair of gloves.