Thursday, January 1, 2009

Boo! Hiss!

Tonight I did something I've never done before. No, I didn't run over a dwarf. I'm saving that for next year.

Think that was random? That's nothing compared to the cinematic travesty that is Spirit.

Tonight, for the first time ever, I was so completely underwhelmed by a movie, I walked out. A mere 25 minutes into the film, I just walked out.


To answer that question, let's take a look at those first 25 minutes.

Minutes 1-3: Scene opens in a quasi-black and white motif with slow falling snowflakes and a Dick Tracey meets Batman feel to the narration and ... Oh. Wait. I forgot. The first ten seconds are this weird flash of part of a woman's face saying something about how she's Death and Spirit was the only man to ever escape her grasp. I found it odd that Death should sound like a Valley Girl trying to play the role of a Serious Actor.

Minutes 4-8: Cool quasi-black and white motif continues through cemetery inexplicably full of cats and we finally see Spirit whose phone rings so long it baffles our modern sensibilities. Does he not have voice mail? An answering service? The now nearly defunct answering machine? Apparently not. I'm cool with the phone thing because I get that this has a 40's hard-boiled detective noir feel to it. Of course, then someone goes and uses the word "bling" and leaves me hopelessly stranded with one foot in the 40's and one in the 90's.

Anyway, we're treated to a conversation where a cop calls on Spirit to come because "something big" is going down and it probably involves Octopus.

Octopus. Hm. Now, where have I seen a comic book villain along the lines of an Octopus? Oh, yes. Spiderman. I guess the octopus is a pretty scary beast, right? Wrong.

Minutes 9-13: Spirit runs through his city spouting a running monologue of how much he loves his city and blah, blah, blah and I begin to notice a trend. Every conversation and monologue is chock full of vague, uselessly generic phrases that tell me absolutely nothing. We're 13 minutes into the film and I don't know anything about the characters and I'm struggling to care.

Minute 14: Spirit interrupts his useless monologue to rescue a damsel in distress. She is wowed. I wait for PLOT to begin. Surely this woman has a purpose to the story, right? Wrong. She's in and out of the movie in less than a minute and I'm supposed to just hop back on the Spirit monologue to nowhere train like I don't care that so far "disjointed" is the most complimentary phrase I can come up with.

Minutes 15-too long: Spirit somehow meets up with a cop and somehow arrives at a boggy marsh where another cop has already been lured and shot and some woman has come out of the water, gone back under, and swam away with a treasure chest. Octopus shows up and begins a dastardly duel with Spirit while his bumbling sidekicks annoy the crap out of everyone with their vacuous grins and nonsensical babblings.

Octopus and Spirit duke it out, each pulling unlikely weapons out of the mud in a fight scene that tries to be both surreal and funny and instead falls flat. At one point, the two begin smack talking each other in a script lifted straight from Showdown at the OK Corral. I began checking the screen for spurs, saddles, and John Wayne. Octopus caps off his pseudo-Western speech with the spine-chilling "I'll larn ya. I'll be larning ya real soon." and I realize this may be the first cinematic villain ever whose sole weapon is his ability to be the most annoying person in the general vicinity.

Stop! Or Octopus will irritate you to death.

The last few minutes of my time spent in the theater were full of a loosely strung together monologue (yet again) of Spirit's past (complete with the pivotal moment for himself and what I assumed will be his love interest if the director ever figures out that a story is supposed to have an arc...and may I say that the pivotal moment is so extreme that even I, with my finely honed suspension of disbelief, couldn't swallow it as justification for anything) and the kicker here is that this entire monologue is aimed at a cat.

A cat.

I talk to my cat so I get that. I do. But I can't really take seriously a guy who suddenly decides (for the sake of getting information to the audience) that he should spill his guts to a cat.

At this point, my boredom became more consuming than my desire to digest any more random bits of information, and I left.

Now, if there are any fans of the actual comic book Spirit out there and you went to see the movie and think the sun rises and sets with it, that's fine. Maybe it's a movie only someone well-versed in Spirit comic lore could ever grasp, but if the producers wanted to make any money out of the general public they needed to embrace one simple concept and apply it to the film: EVERY story needs a plot. A little GMC (goal, motivation, and conflict) for each main character would be helpful too. The only GMC we're given is that of the potential love interest and, as I said, her reaction is too abrupt and far-fetched to be believable in the least.

The only interesting cinematic moments I encountered tonight were the previews.


  1. LMAO--I'm so glad you took the bullet for us. My son and my son-in-law's best friend are completely bummed now because they really wanted to see it. I don't think they will now, not when it's without a plot...unless it has other redeeming qualities (i.e. glimpses of feminine charm, if a female ever stays on the screen long enough to display such wares).

    You gotta wonder what some directors are thinking. Ishtar...Heaven's Gate...Spirit...

  2. I have to admit that I wish you had watched the entire movie so we could have been treated to more of your vitriolic word wielding!
    And thanks for the heads up.

  3. *laughs* Ouch. Sorry that sucked so badly.

    I've only ever walked out of one movie. (Mad Love for those who are curious)


  4. Oh rats.
    I like this style of movie...
    and had planned on seeing it.
    But then, I can't honestly say that I'd been HYPED for it, either. The trailer attracted me because of its "prettiness" not for its substance. And since you say it lacked it severely, I suppose I'm not surprised.
    One less film to see...

  5. Silly CJ, Comic books have only one plot and it is the same for them all. Beat up the bad guy. Everything else is just visual. Now that I think of it, it is perhaps just the pre-adolescent's precursor to pornography. LOL, perhaps you could rent a porno and give us a critical analysis... ha! "15 minutes into the movie, and they still have not fully developed the character of Bambi except for her enjoyment of some object called the octopus..."

  6. I suspected it would be bad the first time I saw the commercial and was left with not a clue what the movie was about. Yes, your commercial is very pretty, but what's the story? A spirit? With a Christmas release? Is it about the origin of Santa? Or Jesus Christ? Perhaps that was addressed later in the movie...

    With a bajillion-dollar advertising budget, you'd think somebody could produce an informative commercial to entice people to the theater.

  7. Sharon - I don't think your son and son-in-law would find any true redeeming qualities anywhere in this film. lol

    Danielle - LOL. I was just too bored to stick it out!

    Katy - I don't think I saw Mad Love. Doesn't sound familiar. I'll make sure to avoid it.

    Peter - Yeah, I think you'd be irritated. The pretty visuals are only really evident for the first few minutes anyway.

    Jake - I actually LOVE comic book movies, for the most part. Huge Batman fan, loved Electra, Spiderman, The Fantastic Four, and Ironman. I love the basic good vs. evil structure with the added interest of whatever superpowers the hero and villain have at their disposal. However, a truly good film delves beyond those superpowers to reveal the flaws and fears and make us truly care...yes, yes, I get carried away when it comes to plot and characterization. lol.

    Kerry - That was one of my biggest pet peeves with this movie. No explanation was given for why he's called Spirit and why he's so indestructible. I'm willing to believe just about anything for a story but you have to give me something to work with.


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