© Sony Pictures Releasing GmbH

The Spirit
U.S.A. 2008

Opening 5 Feb 2009

Directed by: Frank Miller
Writing credits: Frank Miller, Will Eisner
Principal actors: Jaime King, Gabriel Macht, Eva Mendes, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson

Former cop Denny Colt (Gabriel Macht) is the “Spirit”, and he is invincible. He recovers from all injuries, no matter how serious (with the help of surgeon Ellen Dolan) and always returns to protect Central City (Manhattan between Jane Street and Houston). His great enemies are Octopus (Samuel L. Jackson), Silken Floss (Scarlet Johansson), fifty cloned versions of Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, a.k.a. Phobos, as well as Plaster of Paris (Pas Vega). Octopus battles underwater against Sand Saref (Eva Mendes) and each escapes with the other’s bounty.

The Spirit is based on the comic of the same name by Will Eisner, which ran in U.S. Sunday papers 1940-1952. Some say the Spirit is part Batman (masked man protecting the city) and part Dick Tracy (trench coat and hat), and I would add part Lone Ranger because he wears that kind of mask, albeit permanently glued to his face. All the women desire him from Ellen (no hope) to Sand Saref (stands a chance) to Silken Floss (in denial). The Spirit has only one woman and that is the city. A tremendous team put the film together: director Frank Miller of Sin City and 300 fame, who also recreated Batman to be later filmed by Tim Burton; cameraman Bill Pope who worked on Spiderman and The Matrix films; and visual effects supervisor Stu Maschwitz from Iron Man, Superman, and Harry Potter films. Everything is shades of black, white and grey, except for an occasional flash of color, e.g., Spirit’s signature red necktie. The biggest surprise was Johansson who is perfect as the bossy Nazi secretary in this tongue-in-cheek film noir. This is highly recommended to comic and action fans; see it in English, if possible, just to enjoy the beautiful intonations of Gabriel Macht’s sexy voice. (Becky Tan)

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