On Blu-ray & DVD 4/14/09
Or Download on iTunes
Bookmark this on Delicious
If renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz made a comic book movie, it would probably look a lot like Frank Miller's The Spirit. However, Miller's fingerprints are all over the work which marks his first solo directorial effort, after having collaborated with filmmaker Robert Rodriguez on Sin City (note: Blu-ray review forthcoming) and Zack Snyder on 300. In fact, based on the earliest previews alone-- I initially thought that footage of The Spirit were really clips from the upcoming Sin City 2.
In the luscious Blu-ray featurette “History Repeats”—just one of several excellent behind-the-scenes featurettes that also give you a history lesson on the world of comics (regardless of what you may have thought of the film), we take an invaluable and knowledgeable insider’s look at the origins at Eisner’s “Urban Zorro” styled 1938 newspaper comic that gave the young man unprecedented power while still in his twenties to ditch the idea of three or four panel imagery in lieu of seven full pages every week.
Superman like ultra-strong superhero, he wanted to go with an everyman--possibly one that most male readers could identify with as Eisner’s protégé Frank Miller jokes that the veteran comic book innovator worked so hard, he seldom had the pleasure of female company so in order to get by, he sublimated by drawing an endless parade of extremely sexy, powerful women all magnetically drawn to the mysterious crime fighter.
Sin City) to guarantee—along with his extremely gifted special effects team—that at all times, the women look unbelievable no matter how much chaos they cause or danger from which they flee. Or to put it another way-- they’re a walking and talking version of a Vogue Magazine layout or Vanity Fair spread shot by Liebovitz as Miller went so far as to film a scene featuring Eva Mendes underwater without any water to ensure the end result is spectacular.
The Spirit that hold our attention the most. Sadly, poor Gabriel Macht who takes on the titular role of a former police officer who returns from certain death to fight for justice is a clinically cool, less-than-interesting and underwritten lead who manages to deliver his great Raymond Chandler like film noir dialogue, even though he’s the least interesting one in the lot.
Batman problem of trying to juggle far too many characters in what becomes a disarmingly beautiful but nonsensical circus.
The Spirit want to know why he’s indestructible as well as how everyone else still assumes he’s dead save for one individual would’ve probably paid off in a far more emotionally satisfying way had they been revealed a bit earlier or more time had been spent fully fleshing out the tale of the man formerly known as Denny Colt who shortly into the film realizes that his childhood sweetheart turned international jewel robber, Sand Saref (Eva Mendes) is back in town and accused of murder.
Although he stayed extremely true to the heart of the original comic, Miller—who is responsible for ushering in the newer vision of a darker Batman that Tim Burton introduced Generation X to two decades back-- decided he wanted to make the comic more violent and raw than Eisner had back in the day.
Batman)-- finally he changed his mind, deciding that he couldn't bear to “let anyone else touch it,” as the production notes reveal. Thus, in what the producers called “a coup” in bringing aboard the man “who was Will’s protégé, peer, friend and battler partner,” as executive producer Deborah Del Prete of OddLot noted, it honoring Uslan’s promise to Eisner in which—as Uslan recalls-- he “swore to Will that nobody would touch The Spirit-- not a company, not a person -- unless they were willing to respect the property and do it the right way.”
The Spirit in what could be used as a visual moving painting you can simply watch and marvel over (while wanting to put the sound on mute).
Matrix cinematographer Bill Pope play with light by “taking things away” using a “subtle variation that there is barely perceptible background” in some scenes—the sound and picture quality of Lionsgate’s first official Lionsgate Live title (that also features Molog), giving greater interactivity to Blu-ray fans by serving Blu-ray owners updateable and exclusive content “such as commentaries, games, ringtones, wallpapers, trailers, and much more via a series of on-screen notifications and widgets,” is phenomenal.
Max Payne did as well. Likewise it boasts a digital standard edition copy of the film that’s compatible with both Mac and PC for use on your portable devices. And another plus of The Spirit that I’m hoping will catch on with other studios in regards to Blu-ray releases is a completely customizable menu set-up that allows you to adjust its effects as well as the inclusion of bookmarks under the Special Features menu that makes it a bit easier to navigate than some other overly complicated presentations.
Watchmen, made by his 300 co-director Zack Snyder.