Saturday, January 03, 2009

Frank Miller's "The Spirit" follows his "Sin City"

Lionsgate (instead of Dimension) is offering us a “sequel” to the bloated Frank Miller noir thriller “Sin City”, called “The Spirit”, named after the "born again" superhero played by Gabriel Macht. (Johnny Simmons is effective as the young Spirit.) Scarlet Johansson plays Silken Floss, the closest thing to his love that is possible in this kind of model world where snowflakes look like Kleenex. Eva Mendez (who appears on "Ellen" Jan. 5) plays Sand Seraf. Directed and written by Miller, the film again is based in the comic book series by Will Eisner. This time, the aspect is a full 2.35:1, and the look of the film is even more abstract, almost black and white with lots of red splashes, and some scenes that look almost like woodcuts (like the tennis shoe image). This is not a movie about who "has the Spirit."

The villain in the Central City is Octopus (reminds one of a James Bond movie character), played by Samuel L. Jackson. There is this stark, metallic scene where he says he doesn’t care about money because as God he just get what he wants. He reminds us of Lex Luthor in Smallville. In that scene is an image a miniature clone of Octopus, a flapping web foot with a head stuck on that scuttles along the laboratory table like an extract from “The Thing” in the 1982 version of that film. As comic horror, it’s pretty effective.

A world like this always seems like a dream, a parallel universe where forms are simpler and there are fewer places to go, and where conflicts must be settled. The Spirit seems to have his retinue of intelligent cats, felines who seemed well trained to act in this movie.

The production company is Odd Lot Entertainment, and I wonder if it has anything to do with “Lot 47”, which distributed L.I.E. in 2001.

An image from the earlier "Sin City" that hits my mind is Josh Hartnett, in the opening, playing some kind of huckster, as I recall.

The film tonight was lightly attended at a Regal in northern VA, small auditorium. I don't like the way smaller screens crop for 2.35:1.

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