The Spirit (Blu-ray)

January 28, 2012 8 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

I was flipping through my Blu-ray collection the other day and came across a movie I saw a few years back entitled “300”. The movie was an unexpected success at the box office in the spring of 2007 and in much the same vein of “Sin City”, created somewhat of a new genre for films. It’s been nearly two years since both those movies were released and last Christmas those waiting for another like these films got their taste of “The Spirit”. “The Spirit”, by the way, was based on an old comic created by Will Eisner. This was a different type of comic in that it was naturally geared for adults and Eiser changed the way comics were seen. He gave new perceptions, drew the comic differently and though it never had the popularity of “Superman”, “Batman” or “Spider-Man”, “The Spirit” did in fact make its mark on the comic world some time ago. So it’s with this that the movie was made and directed by none other than another comic legend, Frank Miller. Does Miller have the Midas touch like he did in the world of comics or was “The Spirit” better left as a comic?

The short answer is the latter, as “The Spirit” (Gabriel Macht) is a campy, corny and cheesy adaptation of what was a great comic book. We meet The Spirit as he’s battling The Octopus (Samuel L. Jackson) for what seems like an eternity. You see, both have been injected with a formula that essentially makes them indestructible and when the two fight it’s like the irresistible force meets the immovable object. Once you get past the stylized camerawork (mostly done on a green screen ? more on that later), the scantily-clad women bearing every bit of cleavage they have and the dialogue you’ve got a plot. Yes, it’s hidden in there and it’s fairly easy to digest. The Octopus is after a vase containing the blood of Hercules and he wants to consume it which will make him, for all intents and purposes, a god. The Spirit, who works with the police force, is determined to stop him at all costs. But like all comic books, The Octopus has loyal henchmen (several actually), a busty beauty by the name of Silken Floss (Scarlett Johansson) and according to The Octopus himself “?has eight of everything” though he is referring to his arsenal. Will The Spirit stop The Octopus or will this be the end of Central City as we know it?

On a technical level, “The Spirit” has all of the elements which made films like “300” and “Sin City” such sought-after movies. I won’t deny that the sheer style in which this film is made is remarkable and it’s a true testament to the filmmakers and the imagination of Frank Miller that does make it work. But a movie is only as good as the script and the plot and both, well, aren’t good. Next time you watch a movie, close your eyes for a scene ? just hear the actors say the words. If it makes sense to you and you can get a sense for what’s going on, it’s probably a good script. Try that with this movie and you’ll think that you’re in second grade. Yes, the dialogue is really that bad. If all you’re after is to see another film in the same vein of “300” or “Sin City” then look no further (or just skip this all-together and wait for “Sin City 2”). If you’re looking to be entertained or are a die-hard fan of “The Spirit” comic books, well, more power to you because I was pretty unimpressed.

Video: How does it look?

As I mentioned before, the sheer visual style of this movie is about the only compelling reason I’d recommend anyone to see it. The movie does flow like a comic book and we’ve got several scenes that utilize silhouettes that really make an impact. Lionsgate brings “The Spirit” to Blu-ray in a 2.40:1 VC-1 HD transfer that is nothing short of spectacular. Take a look at Samuel L. Jackson’s face, we can see every pore, the black “tears” coming from his eyes and it’s amazing. There is so much detail in pretty much every shot that it might take a second viewing to soak it all in, though I’d recommend the commentary track running as it’s far more intriguing than the film itself. This is demo material and with such an aggressive visual effort it is a sight to see (pardon the pun).

Audio: How does it sound?

The DTS-HD Master Audio track pulls no punches. There’s something going on in every scene that activates the surrounds and the LFE are quite active as well. Dialogue (if you don’t actually concentrate on what’s being said) is very clean and clear as well. What caught me were the little things, like an extra “ting” or “click” here and there. I kept turning my head around to see if it was something outside my window, but no it was the uncompressed soundtrack that fooled me time and again. I was expecting a good soundtrack and “The Spirit” excelled on this level.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Looking at the back of the box, it gives the impression there’s a lot more to the supplemental package than meets the eye. As it turns out, there’s not a whole lot of substance here (ironic, I know). The commentary track with Frank Miller and Deborah Del Prete is fairly engaging and we do see some of Miller’s motivations as to why things happened the way they did. Miller obviously is a big fan of Eiser’s work and it shows, too bad he couldn’t have done it more justice. Three featurettes are also included, the highlight of them being “Green World”. I figured that this would be a feature on how the actors had to work with a green screen and though we get some of that, it’s more of a retrospective on the work of Will Eisner and a history of “The Spirit” as a comic as well. It’s surprisingly informative and the best of the trio of featurettes. Also included are “Miller on Miller” and “History Repeats”. An alternate storyboard ending is also included as is the original theatrical trailer. The disc is also BD-Live enabled “cleverly entitled ‘Lionsgate Live'” and a second disc with a digital copy of the movie has been included as well.

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