As both Jeffrey and James note here, critics in general got pretty animated about The Spirit, and not in a good way. Occasional GreenCine contributor Scott Weinberg wrote on Fearnet: "If, however, you like your films to include stuff like good sense, character development, internal logic, and a smooth-flowing story ... well, all I can say is that someone should have gotten Robert Rodriguez on the phone." But hold the phone! say Jeffrey and Jim, in their, er, spirited defenses of the film, enjoying it for what it is.
Reviewer: Jeffrey M. Anderson
Rating (out of 5): ***
Due to holiday pressures and deadlines, I missed the press screening for The Spirit, as well as its Christmas Day opening. (One of my colleagues informed me that he "was willing, but The Spirit wasn't.") I didn't catch up to it until it was all but pronounced dead a couple of weeks later.
And as it began, I found myself grumbling at the stupid dialogue right off the bat.
But as the film went on, I discovered that it had a kind of appealingly dumb, playful quality. Indeed, it's far more low-key and purely enjoyable than either the amazing but grim Sin City (2005), which Frank Miller co-directed, or the aggressively stupid 300 (2007), on which he's only credited as the creator of the source material. It moves in a similarly artificial, elastic way, but without the fetishistic need for excessive violence. Here Miller is paying tribute to the great comics pioneer Will Eisner, a man whose work any comics nut worth his newsprint should know. (Eisner's work has often been rightly described as the Citizen Kane of comics. I definitely recommend them to potential viewers.) To that end, Miller effectively combines his own style with Eisner's style, which was starkly visual, but also humorous.