Imagine if Disney decided to remake an Italian cannibal film for a PG
audience. Now imagine that they decided to turn the whole thing into a
spoof with some cartoon Nazi villains and deadpan high-camp dialogue. Now
suppose they decided to add some genuine, heartfelt moments from time to
Can't really be done, can it? You can't do all of those things at
But comic book legend Frank Miller might try.
Writer/director Miller had no idea where to go with The Spirit, and it
really suffers from his inability to choose a path and stay on it. He
could have made it a gritty R-rated neo-noir like Sin City, which he wrote
and kinda-sorta co-directed with Robert Rodriguez. He could have made it a
silly kiddie movie like Batman and Robin, or an outright spoof like Dead
Men Don't Wear Plaid. He could have made it a tonally faithful adaptation
of the comic's presentation, ala Watchmen. He could have set it in the
1940s or the present day. He chose "none of the above." He chose to follow
no path at all, but rather just to wander aimlessly. The result is
Miller did create some dramatic and interesting comic book frames when
he was picturing more abstract concepts like empty rooms and city streets,
but he just didn't know what to do when he had human beings interacting on
camera. Of course, the first thing you'll notice about the film is that it
contains no REAL human beings (except for one minor character). It is
populated by jokey stereotypes. The one-dimensional hero delivers mock
heroic lines like "You're a common criminal, and I'm takin' ya in," and
the one-dimensional evil floozy comes back with badinage like "There's
nothing common about me, crimefighter." Change the word "crimefighter" to
"caped crusader," and I'll bet you will picture Adam West and Julie Newmar.
That's not the only thing in the film that evokes the Adam West Batman
show. Head baddie Samuel L Jackson rants and postures just like Cesar
Romero or Burgess Meredith used to do, and his henchmen even wear shirts
with their names on them! Worst of all, the characters are allowed hammy
close-ups and the camera often seems to be tilted at an awkward angle.
Where are the balloons which say "pow" and "bam"?
But this is not your father's Batman. Just to show that forty years
have passed since Adam West's day, there is a little nudity, and a little
outrageous gore. Hey, let's have some edge.
But not too much edge, because the film was determined to get the PG-13
Well, you just can't have a little of everything. You can't be Adam
West's Batman and Watchmen and Sin City. You have to point your ass in one
direction and stick to it. If you don't, you're stuck with something
hideous and mismatched, like a pimp driving an elevated Volvo station
wagon with oversized spinning rims and racing stripes.
Or like The Spirit.
Anyway, does all that matter if Eva Mendes was naked?
Well, yes. Sorta.
There was some pretty good nudity in a Christmas Day PG-13 movie.
Imagine what might have been on screen if Miller had chosen the Sin City
path and and stuck to it.