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Adapted from the Will Eisner's graphic novels, 'The Spirit' tells the story of a man who fakes his own death and fights crime from the shadows of Central City. The Octopus -- who kills anyone unfortunate enough to see his face -- has other plans. He's going to wipe out the entire city. The Spirit tracks this coldhearted killer from the city's rundown warehouses, to the damp catacombs, to the windswept waterfront...all the while facing a bevy of beautiful women who either want to seduce, love or kill the masked crusader
For more about The Spirit and the The Spirit Blu-ray release, see the The Spirit Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on April 16, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Gabriel Macht, Jaime King, Scarlett Johansson, Eva Mendes, Frank Miller (II)
Director: Frank Miller (II)
» See full cast & crew
The Spirit Blu-ray Review
This sluggish and meandering film noir looks and sounds spectacular on Blu-ray.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, April 16, 2009
Dead as 'Star Trek.'
The Spirit captures a myriad of cinematic trends that have gained in popularity as of late. First, it's a comic book movie, based on Will Eisner's work of the same name. The movie features a shadowy and seemingly indestructible hero that fights crime while attempting to solve the mysteries of his own past. The character called "The Spirit" is something of an antihero, fighting crime but also doing so with questionable tactics while living a somewhat distasteful personal life. Finally, The Spirit creates a world that is practically a living comic book, a world that is arguably too stylized and removes any connection with reality to the picture. The Spirit, if it is necessary to classify the film, is primarily a Fantasy. It's like a daydream that is marked by the most crude of structures and characters, developed just enough to assemble some halfway coherent story, with all of the background details fading into oblivion. The visuals and jumbled story reflect that sense of fading, although neither the visuals nor story disappear completely, resulting in a movie that is just too confused, too stylized, and too incoherent to stand the test of time.
Central City is home to The Spirit (Gabriel Macht, Behind Enemy Lines), a masked vigilante and former police officer who "beats up bad guys" and was once killed in the line of duty -- only to find himself resurrected as a seemingly indestructible superman. His arch nemesis is The Octopus (Samuel L. Jackson, xXx), a mad scientist bent on obtaining the vase that contains the Blood of Heracles, a substance he believes will immortalize him. Instead, he retrieves a container filled with the Treasure of the Argonauts, that which the deadly and glamorous Sand Saref (Eva Mendes, Hitch), who has a "thing for the bling," wants for herself. As The Spirit hunts down The Octopus, he will come full circle as he discovers his origins as a hero and finds himself face-to-face with his one true love who abandoned him years earlier.
The Spirit will be remembered for its incredibly stylistic appearance. Bordering on black-and-white imagery for the entirety of the runtime and punctuated by only the occasional splash of bright color -- The Spirit's trademark red tie or a police officer's blue shirt, for example -- The Spirit blends a classic film noir appearance with over-the-top imagery that lends to it the feel of a comic book come to life. In a fashion similar to that of other terribly dark superhero movies, the smoky, grimy, brick-laden city, in this case "Central City," becomes a character in the film. In fact, The Spirit often addresses the city as if it had some life energy that aids in him in his quest. The style is similar to that seen in the Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher Batman films, particularly Burton's, perhaps the definition of comic book noir, but taken to the extreme in The Spirit, playing as far darker, denser, and more cold and unforgiving than even Gotham City. Central City's backdrop is often punctuated by snow flurries that add a sprinkling of white contrast to the black backgrounds, not to mention serving as reinforcement to the cold and almost inhospitable location.
Even the Burton and Schumacher Batman films remained grounded in a semblance of reality, but The Spirit seems completely detached and plants itself firmly in fantasyland. The Spirit is a true film noir in many ways, a tried-and-true style that, done properly, lends incredible atmosphere to any picture. The Spirit, however, creates a hybrid style that blends noir with cartoon and juvenile elements that results in a movie that seems to, on one hand, want to be a bleak and harrowing tale, while on the other wants to cram as much levity, nonsensical visuals, and eye-rolling dialogue into the film as possible. The result is a movie that seems at odds with itself, the dark and the light clashing and repelling one another, the jumbled style certainly making for a unique contrast but otherwise adding nothing to the story.
As for the story, it's chaotic at best and downright confusing at worst, the crux and the character's motivations recycled from countless other tales. The visuals and relentless soundtrack often supersede the story, and indeed, the film's oddball style leaves little room for any sort of thematic importance. Even at a fairly average 103-minute runtime, The Spirit drags terribly thanks to a story that may be pieced together from context clues and the occasional important line of dialogue, but like the aforementioned daydream-like quality of the visuals that only emphasize the important and up-front characters and objects while blurring or removing completely the finer details that truly describe characters and environments, the script feels like a shell, an outline, a cursory draft that covers the basics but never fleshes out not just the finest of details but some of the major ones, too. The Spirit plays as choppy and bumbling, with exposition here and action there but without any sort of cohesion. The film does manage to link its primary characters together satisfactorily, but the dynamics are flat and their motivations are generic.
The Spirit Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Spirit brings its unique imagery to Blu-ray via another pristine 1080p, 2.40:1-framed transfer from Lionsgate. The film features plenty of challenging material, including a color scheme devoid of most anything brighter than shades of gray and white, not to mention plenty of dark corners and smoky foregrounds. The film sees only the occasional splashes of color, The Spirit's red tie or a cat's green eyes in one scene. Detail is absolutely breathtaking. From mundane, everyday images like puddles of mud to the very highly detailed clothing worn by the characters, the presentation -- originally captured via HD video -- is top notch. There simply is not a frame of the movie where the visible levels of detail fail to jump right off of the screen. It's incredibly clear, clean, and a pleasure to behold. Flesh tones are fairly pale, though seemingly in-line with the film's intended look. Blacks, of the utmost importance to this transfer, are perfectly inky and true. While the movie leaves much to be desired, there is no denying the impeccable visuals on display, creating a new reference-grade Blu-ray that competes with the very best the format has to offer.
The Spirit Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The Spirit bursts onto Blu-ray with a reference-quality DTS-HD MA 7.1 lossless soundtrack. The audio presentation is fulfilling, crisp, and incredibly precise. It's also loud, aggressive, loud, powerful, and very, very, loud. In other words, prepare for sonic devastation. Gunshots ring out with terrifying power, the sonic cracks and subsequent reverberations presented with impressive fidelity around the soundstage. Bass delivers powerful and deep lows during the action sequences, and the devastation flows through the entire soundstage with startling precision. Sound emanates from each speaker and makes good use of all the channels. The back speakers are used almost incessantly in support of music, addition of ambience, and delivery of numerous discrete effects that virtually place the listener in the midst of the film. The sounds of the city, of The Spirit running in the background across the soundstage, a helicopter swirling around, or the dripping of water, each come through with amazing clarity and placement, engulfing the listener to absolutely amazing effect. Environmental atmospherics, too, are superb. A blowing rainstorm heard in chapter five completely fills the soundstage with lifelike sonic goodness. Rounded out by strong dialogue reproduction, this soundtrack represents Blu-ray action-oriented audio at its current zenith.
The Spirit Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Spirit debuts on Blu-ray with a rather standard supplemental package. Headlining the set is a feature-length commentary track with Director Frank Miller and Producer Deborah Del Prete. The track meanders as much as the movie, turning from pertinent information to mindless bantering on a dime, and with plenty of moments of dead air in between. At times the pair sound like filmmakers and at other times like fans. Green World (1080p, 22:53) primarily examines the extensive use of special green-screen effects that are found in virtually every frame of the film. The piece does, however, begin with a look at Will Eisner's unique vision for The Spirit comic and the characters that populate the world. Miller on Miller (1080p, 15:57) features the director discussing a myriad of topics, beginning with his passion for drawing and moving on to discuss comics and, of course, his work on The Spirit. History Repeats (1080p, 15:27) takes a look at Will Eisner's career as a comic book artist with special emphasis on The Spirit. Concluding the supplements is Alternate Storyboard Ending With Voiceover by Gabriel Macht and Samuel L. Jackson (1080p, 2:37), the film's theatrical trailer (1080p, 2:28), additional 1080p trailers for Crank 2, T2: Skynet Edition, Transporter 3, Bangkok Dangerous, and Hulk Vs. Disc two of this set contains a digital copy of the film. Sampled on a second generation iPod Touch, the video presentation is perhaps the best yet, with a minimal and generally unobtrusive blocking and only slight banding in a few scenes. The audio, too, is solid, with spacious sound effects and strong dialogue.
The Spirit Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Despite its valiant effort to be different, The Spirit plods along with haphazard pacing, an inconsequential story, generic characters, and a visual style that wears out its welcome almost from the first frame. It also adds plenty of offbeat and generally groan-inducing humor that further lends to the complete over-the-top nature of the film. The entire experience results in a movie that is one-hundred percent spectacle and zero-percent substance. Lionsgate's Blu-ray release of The Spirit is spectacular. With mesmerizing picture quality, one of the best lossless soundtracks to date, and a few bonus materials, fans of the film should be pleased with the presentation. The movie is worth a rental to put home theater systems through their paces.
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• Special Features for The Spirit Revealed - February 2, 2009
Lionsgate Home Entertainment has revealed the technical specs and special features for the upcoming Blu-ray release of 'The Spirit', which is due to hit store shelves on April 14th, day-and-date with the DVD release. Video for this Frank Miller directed film will ...
• The Spirit Coming to Blu-ray - January 30, 2009
Lionsgate Home Entertainment has revealed in the latest issue of Home Media Magazine that they will bring the Frank Miller's 'The Spirit' to Blu-ray on April 14th, day-and-date with the DVD release. Technical specs have yet to be announced, but you can expect to ...
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