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THE SPIRIT - 1 Slime
Rated PG-13
Copyright 2008 Lionsgate/Odd Lot Entertainment
Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 23 December 2010

The Characters:  

  • The Spirit - Our hero. I suppose. I mean, if you can ignore the fact that he loves cats and they love him, and that he engages in marathon internal monologues that make him sound like a royal chump, then I guess you could call him the hero of the film. He's still just a noid wearing a doodle's tie.
  • Dr. Ellen Dolan - Look, I'll make it easy for you. The Spirit is six feet in height and circumcised. Your late husband was six feet in height and circumcised. Get it?
  • Sand Saref - There, for the difference of fifteen years, would have gone Gina Gershon.
  • Commissioner Dolan - Tough, gruff, and usually upset at the Spirit. Which is understandable, because he is The Spirit's father-in-law. Fathers-in-law have a special set of rules. Prior to marriage, the future father-in-law wants to kill the prospective son-in-law for anything involving carnal knowledge of the father-in-law's daughter. Following marriage, the father-in-law wants to kill the son-in-law for anything involving carnal knowledge of anyone other than the father-in-law's daughter. It's important to get this right, because if you get it backwards, the result is not good.
  • Officer Morgenstern - Who ordered the policewoman in a skin-tight uniform fetish?
  • Plaster of Paris - Who ordered the bellydancing mistress of blades fetish?
  • The Octopus - Samuel L. Jackson! A nearly immortal criminal mastermind who cannot decide whether he wants to be Hitler or Willie Dynamite. Eventually destroyed (mostly) by an atomic grenade.
  • Silken Floss - Who ordered the smoking geek girl fetish?
  • Pathos, Ethos, Logos, etc. - Morons. Dozens and dozens of cloned morons.
  • Lorelei - Why does Death look like she just got back from a rave?

Buy It!

The Plot: 

This film is often mentioned by normal people who want to talk to me about bad movies. They respond with surprise when I tell them that "The Spirit" is not all that awful. For a mainstream film, I admit that it delivers very little entertainment. On the other hand, it cannot hold a candle to a lot of other films. Heck, I watched it all in one sitting without falling asleep and rarely asked the rhetorical, "Movie, what the f**k are you doing?"

What I am saying is that I like my bad movies to be a lot better at being bad than this one. It's like a woman telling you that she is naughty, but when pressed, she says that she is naughty because she likes to have sex. What? Sister, we all like to have sex. Where are the high heeled black boots, skimpy nurse's outfit, and handcuffs? Where are the neighbors complaining to the police about the noise? Where are the chromeless trailer hitches, tennis balls, and garden hoses?

Not to say that "The Spirit" is a good movie, it fails at everything it tries to accomplish.

Our hero is a man absorbed with dealing out justice in a world where crime has the upper hand. He lives in a mausoleum at the edge of the city, his city. It's the streets, rooftops, and alleyways that he lives and breathes in the dark while other men slumber in their beds. The Spirit really, really loves his city. He waxes philosophical about it during his inner monologues. Did I mention that the Spirit likes to carry on an inner monologue with himself? He does, constantly. If the Spirit is on the screen, he is either talking to another character or talking to himself. How he is able to think with that going on in his head is beyond me. Half of what he says does not make any sense.

I bet that he even talks to himself while making a snack of peanut butter and honey on toast. "Toast is like a woman, soft and pure until she's been through the fire. Then she comes out with hard edges, ready to break your teeth. Her flesh is the peanut butter, so smooth and warm, while the honey drips off of her like silk pajamas. You're looking at her in your bed, thinking what a lucky guy you are, and it's all you can do to stop yourself from asking your kitten if she has ever cried over spilled milk."

Seriously, what does all of that mean?

Every extraordinary hero has a nemesis, and the Spirit is diametrically opposed to the Octopus. They are almost too equally matched. Both of them possess remarkable strength and amazing agility, and both are able to withstand an unearthly amount of damage. During the first fight we see, they literally hit each other with everything including the kitchen sink (if you've ever wanted to see someone get beaned with a sink, this is your film). Pummeling someone to death who is nigh invulnerable is tiring. The two adversaries are soon panting and acting winded, leading me to believe that, despite their other physical attributes, their endurance is merely typical. One of Octopus' henchmen finally ends the fight by shooting the Spirit multiple times. The ballistic wounds do not kill the hero, but they do take the fight out of him. Everybody calls it a day.

After the battle, the Octopus returns to his subterranean lair with a mysterious box that he stole from a mysterious woman in a hole at the bottom of the city's sea. When the super criminal opens the box, he finds that it is full of bling. He becomes very upset, because he didn't want a box full of bling. What the Octopus was looking for was a vase in the box in the hole at the bottom of the sea. Inside the vase is supposed to be the blood of Hercules. All of the cloned morons saw the woman, Sand Saref, leave with the other box. They was watching.

Deprived of the blood in the vase in the box from the hole at the bottom of the sea, the Octopus lets his rage get the best of him. He turns into Samurai Jack and kills the morons. What this accomplishes is a mystery, because the only way he can replace the dead morons is to clone even more morons. Meaning that the new morons are going to be just as stupid as the ones he just chopped up.

Elsewhere, the Spirit is admitted to the local hospital, where the widow of police officer Denny Colt is always on call, just in case the city's hero is brought in and needs to be sewn, bandaged, and stapled together once more. He is human; it's just that he does not die when somebody stabs or shoots him. Bullet holes seem to be more of a nuisance than anything else. So, Dr. Dolan sees the Spirit almost naked one more time, and still does not realize that he is her husband, come back from the dead to fight crime.

Yes, the Spirit knows that he used to be Denny Colt. What he does not know (when the film begins) is that the Octopus created him. The Octopus developed an immortality serum and the Spirit was the test subject. Unfortunately, the immortality serum does not last forever. That's why the Octopus wants some of Hercules' blood; with it he can become almost a god.

I am sorry if the fact that the immortality serum does not last forever upsets anyone. It's not my fault. Blame the guys in marketing.

To continue to interconnect all of the plots, we also find out that the Spirit knew Sand Saref when the two of them were teenagers. They were young moonstruck lovers, and Sand finally had enough of the city and all its problems. She ran away from home, ran away from Denny, and she vowed never to return. Well, Sand did return. She came back because she loves all that glitters. In the other box from the hole at the bottom of the sea was the legendary Golden Fleece. It was to be the crown piece in Sand Saref's collection of high society bling. She is willing to do anything for it, even risking her life to exchange boxes with the known-to-be-unstable Octopus.

Beleaguered by the untiring crime fighter, the Octopus decides to get rid of his arch enemy, once and for all. He lures the Spirit to his secret hideout and sends Silken Floss to beguile the masked hero. The Spirit, who trusts nobody and has the reflexes of a young cat, lets the villainess just waltz up and stick a needle into his neck. When he wakes, he is tied to a dental chair in a room filled with Nazi paraphernalia. It gets weirder. Silken Floss and the Octopus appear, and both of them are wearing Nazi uniforms. Seeing Samuel L. Jackson dressed as Hitler and spouting Nazi propaganda while wearing a monocle is freaky. It's right up there with seeing John Wayne as Genghis Khan. It's also impossible to believe that someone, anyone, thought that such a scene was a good idea.

Don't even get me started on the French bellydancer who shows up with a sword. Her job is to cut the Spirit into so many pieces that Dr. Dolan cannot put him back together again. Too bad for the Octopus that the Spirit has a way with women. He woos the dangerous dame into cutting his bonds, then a Nazi eagle falls on Samuel L. Jackson. The Spirit escapes the trap, but just by the slimmest of margins. He barely has time for a quick transfusion for his contusions before he has to stop Sand from giving the blood of Hercules to the Octopus in return for the Grecian Ares bling bling.

I swear that in context the previous paragraph makes perfect sense.

"The Spirit" is highly stylized in ways that often do not come off well. It is also populated by characters that are barely two dimensional, despite a whole lot of effort expended to create multi-dimensional beings so complex that only a comic book geek could ever fully understand their inner workings. The real problem is that nothing works like it is supposed to. The film never gels. The quirky characters seem like separate entities that were never meant to exist in the same movie, the bleak city landscape is a confusing mess, and the action is so cartoonish that I started wondering if "The Spirit" is actually a satire of comic book heroes. Since they did try so hard to make it different, I wish there was something nice that I could say about the movie.

The frog was nice. I quite liked the frog.

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Bad movie lovers play Sadistic Santa by gifting each other with really awful movies to review. The diabolical Dr. Freex put "The Spirit" under my tree. I think that he is getting soft in his old age. Click on the banner for more reviews.

Things I Learned From This Movie: 

  • It is impossible to kill a cat through sheer boredom.
  • They don't teach subtlety at the police academy.
  • Some people have a love-hate relationship with eggs.
  • Marsellus Wallace had the Golden Fleece made into a toupee.
  • If I die young, bury me with a collapsible shovel. Lay me down in a casket with interior LED lighting. And don't forget to pack me some snacks.
  • Reports that the Spirit of St. Louis has been retrofitted with lojack are true.
  • Golden sheep were common in North America, but they were hunted to extinction by firefighters.
  • Never, ever make a movie in Albuquerque.

Stuff To Watch For: 

  • 7 mins - Frog, shouldn't you be hibernating?
  • 16 mins - "More...brains!"
  • 23 mins - RANDOM ACT OF VIOLENCE AGAINST A MORON!
  • 31 mins - RANDOM ACTS OF VIOLENCE AGAINST THREE MORONS!
  • 31 mins - Or is that a random act of violence against a moron, cloned thrice?
  • 42 mins - Film, I am annoyed with you. Begone.
  • 71 mins - It looks like somebody finally discovered a solution to the world's cat problem.
  • 83 mins - Why does the police force need Apache attack helicopters? Crowd control?
  • Ending Credits - The "undomesticated quadruped wrangler" was Puck Pucker.
  • Ending Credits - What was Puck wrangling anyhow? The frog?
  • Ending Credits - Even more Puckers! I wonder if any of them is the matriarch of the Pucker clan.
  • Ending Credits - Yes, that would make her the mother Pucker.

 Audio clips in wav formatSOUNDSStarving actors speak out 

FileDialog
Green Music Note spirit1.wav The Spirit: "My city, she's always there for me. Every lonely night she's there for me. She's not some tarted-up fraud all dressed like a piece of jailbait. No, she's an old city. Old and proud of her every pock and crack and wrinkle. She's my sweetheart, my plaything..."
Green Music Note spirit2.wav The Spirit: "Come on, it was a judgment call. I gave it my best shot!"
Dolan: "Yeah, and you blew it. Now I got one officer about an inch from dying, and another with his head yanked off. All because you went off half-cocked after the Octopus!"
The Spirit: "You're damn right I'm going after the Octopus, every chance I get!"
Dolan: "Yeah, and you're going through my men like toilet paper. It's an obsession!"
Green Music Note spirit3.wav Sand gushes over her missing bling bling.
Green Music Note spirit4.wav The Spirit: "Denny Colt is dead. I'm something else now, and I can never give my heart to anyone else but her. She will always be mine, and I will always be hers. She owns me body and soul. She is the love of my life. She is my city, and I am her spirit."

 Click for a larger imageIMAGESScenes from the movie 

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 Watch a sceneVIDEOMPEG video files 

Video Clipspirit1.mpg - 7.3m
There is a scene just like this in another movie. However, instead of a marble Nazi eagle clobbering Samuel L. Jackson, it is a shark that gets him by surprise.

No bellydancer in "Deep Blue Sea" either.

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Comments:Write CommentPages: 1 [2]
Re: The Spirit
Reply #9. Posted on December 27, 2010, 07:07:27 PM by Flangepart
Oh, yeah...not watching this thing, even after seeing the video you added.
Got too much love for Eisner's comic to swollow that pill. You know, the one where the prongs shoot out the sides when it hits your throat?...don't EVEN imagin the supository...
Lets just not imagin this film, kay?
Re: The Spirit
Reply #10. Posted on December 27, 2010, 10:53:25 PM by ShifterCat
That peanut-butter-and-honey toast bit? Spot-on parody of a Frank Miller monologue.
Re: The Spirit
Reply #11. Posted on December 30, 2010, 10:34:22 PM by AndrewS
Quote
He barely has time for a quick transfusion for his contusions before he has to stop Sand from giving the blood of Hercules to the Octopus in return for the Grecian Ares bling bling.
Shouldn't that be "Aries" not "Ares", as it is the hide of a ram, not the skin of the god of war?

Re: The Spirit
Reply #12. Posted on January 07, 2011, 07:28:30 PM by Neville
I'm pretty sure the film tries to be a parody of super-hero movies. I mean, the clues are obvious if you look for them, like when The Spirit starts rambling endlessly about the city at the beginning of the movie. what I'm afraid is that it's one sick joke, one only Frank Miller may find amusing.

BTW, the actress who plays the French dancer with a sword is Paz Vega, a prominent Spanish actress that has been trying her luck at Hollywood for some time now. Watching her in stuff like this or "The Human Contract" makes me wonder if she has any talent at all.
Re: The Spirit
Reply #13. Posted on January 13, 2011, 03:27:03 PM by Torgo
A friend of mine dumped the bluray of The Spirit on me recently and I hadn't watched it since suffering through it in the theater during it's original release. I re-watched it again recently and I didn't hate it quite as much as I first did. The movie is still a complete mess but I think that it's far from being an unwatchable mess. Not a great movie by any means but I've found that once you know what to expect from it tonewise, the movie gets a bit more tolerable. 
Pages: 1 [2]
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