No.3 - The Spirit
If, in 2010, Tim Burton succeeds in bringing Lewis Carroll’s fantastical world to the silver screen, it still could not be as bizarre as Frank Miller’s take on Will Eisner’s classic comic. It’s difficult to describe how perplexingly insane The Spirit really is. The tone is uneven throughout, flitting as it does between slapstick silliness and crime drama, all flourished with an excessive use of green screen stylistics which only enhance the films sense of otherworldliness – and not in a good way. So far removed is this noirish caricature from even the most hyper-real of settings that the nonsensical plotting takes a backseat to the alienated characters and abstract scenarios.
The Spirit himself is a hollowed out duplicate of Bruce Wayne, lacking depth or motivation and replicating smugness only. Apparently invincible, this soulless wonder lures every female within the vicinity as he embarks upon a journey to prevent the similarly indestructible Octopus (an overbearingly irritating Samuel L. Jackson) from unleashing some threat or other, the ramifications of which escape my mind entirely. The absurdities reach heights of delirium come the third act, wherein the (un) comic relief is miniaturised and grafted onto a hopping foot, whilst the villain and his extraneous sidekick played by a virtually comatose Scarlett Johansson, parade about in Nazi uniforms. If it sounds confusing, you’re only halfway there. The phrase “a camel is a horse designed by committee” springs to mind, as both cast and crew struggle to coalesce the many schizophrenic strands into one cohesive whole. If this is the extent of Frank Miller’s filmmaking ability, perhaps he should just stick to the comics.