Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Spirit


Watching Frank Miller's The Spirit could be compared to a Twilight Zone episode, to a world beyond sight and sound where common sense isn't quite so common. Suspend belief and prepare for a world so ludicrous, so insane and childish that it feels like the product of a 13 year old boy given an unlimited budget and told to go play.

To understand Spirit one must only put themselves in the mind of a teenager just experiencing puberty, one who sees himself as invincible like the title hero played by Gabriel Macht. As any teenage boy would fantasize, this hero has the most beautiful women in the world played by the likes of Scarlett Johansson, Eva Mendez and Sarah Paulson swooning over him, drawn to his lips and hanging on his every word, putty in his hands. Even the teenager's hesitation and uncertainty with himself seeps through Macht's Spirit and the film as a whole, only barely realizing what he is doing, only tacitly aware of himself and haltingly confident in his own skin and even in his interaction with women.

Of course every teenager needs a nemesis, an over the top megalomaniacal evil genius type with more guns than sanity, a bill fit perfectly by the acting machine that is Samuel L. Jackson as The Octopus. With a head full of crossed wires, Jackson's Octopus is an unstoppable villain that can't be taken seriously, his every action and monologue and most of all getup is impossible to watch with a straight face. Laugh or cry, love or hate, Jackson conducts the crazy train with a supreme level of gusto, he shoots and jabbers and psychotically laughs his way through a plot that is less a plot than a series of monologues, pretty colors and even prettier women, all for the sake of mythology, immortality and juvenile wonderment and laughter.

The Spirit is what happens when artists decide to simply have fun with what they're doing as opposed to taking it seriously. One can only hope Frank Miller didn't expect the film to be artistically lauded. The Spirit can be appreciated only as a dazzling display of ridiculous action and even more ridiculous events. This is not the story of a hero or even the tale of good versus evil, it's just a teenager trapped in a man's body, Big but with superpowers, women, guns and glory all rolled into a heap of absurd fun.

There's nothing bad about Spirit, going in with no expectation for sense and forgetting everything you ever read about acting, it is just another movie with something resembling a plot and a great deal of laughter. Provided no one made the movie anticipating a a bastion of integrity, it is a sign of hope that Hollywood still has a little bit of spunk left in it.

3 comments:

Derek said...

last paragraph was well put. but you seriously didn't give enough credit to the unpredictable element of comedy. I mean, when will you be able to ever get that swastika out of your head?

Anonymous said...

I agree entirely. There is so much heavy emotion attached to the reactions to this film. It's hard to know where it originates.

I thought the movie was just fine. And it had a certain integrity to it. Miller had a vision and he didn't flinch. Certainly, the visuals were superior. Some of it, we've never seen before.

It's not going to make it into the National Archives, but it's hardly as bad as the reactions have been.

I quite liked it.

Cecilia said...

I totally forgot you had a blog until I saw you on Morgan's follower's list (It's Jessica btw, just use anonymous tag for my blog so not to upset anyone if I talk about them)