Director William Friedkin once obtained the film rights to The Spirit and contacted its creator, Will Eisner, to write the script. Eisner declined but recommended Harlan Ellison, which ended with a script being written and — surprise — Friedkin and Ellison fighting. There was a 1987 made for TV movie and talk of an animated adaption before the property went into development hell.
In 2005, Uslan approached Frank Miller at Eisner’s memorial service in New York City in regards to making this film. The result is similar to Miller’s Sin City films, but there remains an issue. It’s too dark for those that love The Spirit. And anyone who did, well, they’re old now and not the target audience for the movie. As I often wonder when a movie bombs, who was this for?
The Spirit (Gabriel Macht) and The Octopus (Samuel Jackson) are locked in endless combat, as both seem unkillable. The only thing this Spirit loves more than defeating evil are the ladies, whether that’s Ellen Dolan (Sarah Paulson), who keeps him in one piece, or Sand Seref (Eva Mendes). The weird thing is that the character is much closer to P’Gell, but again, only geeks like me are going to care about that.
I like the idea of the Angel of Death (Jaime King) trying to seduce and keep the Spirit, as well as how all the henchmen are the same actor. But man, this movie tried even my patience and I’ve made it through so many rough films. It looks interesting, but has no script or ability to build interest beyond looking like cut scenes from a video game that you’ll never get to play.
It’s a shame, because the potential of a great Spirit movie is out there. This just isn’t it.