The Spirit Sneaks into Theaters

Fanboys will like it; everyone else won't care.

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Directed by Frank Miller. Starring Gabriel Macht, Samuel L. Jackson, Jaime King, Scarlett Johansson, and Eva Mendes. Rated PG-13. 103 minutes.

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With the fanboys eagerly eying Zack Snyder's Watchmen adaptation, Frank Miller's version of The Spirit sneaks into theaters almost unnoticed Christmas Day — good thing too. Miller, comics-writing icon turned director, has rendered comics-industry revolutionary Will Eisner's crime fighter Denny Colt a grim shade of dull — all talk, no action, save for a few slapstick mashups of old Warner Bros. cartoons and Miller's own Sin City, which has the effect of turning Eisner's Technicolor comic into a gray glob of hardboiled mush. Colt (Gabriel Macht, eh), dead and deadpan, is a killed cop resurrected courtesy of the Octopus (Samuel L. Jackson turned up to 11), a baddie who now wants the good guy dead, I tell ya, dead. Complicating matters are the femme fatales stopping by between Maxim shoots: Eva Mendes as the lost love, Jaime King as the angel of death, and Scarlett Johansson as the Octopus's extra tentacle. Miller gets away with his revisionist redo because, at this late date, The Spirit has been spirited away to the history books. Besides, the movie is so full of nods to comics and their creators (from DC Comics founder Harry Donenfeld to artist Steve Ditko) that the fanboys will find room in their hearts to forgive the desecration. Everyone else won't care at all.

 
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