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The Spirit

A comic noir about a masked crime fighter

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I've never read Will Eisner's classic original comic, so I have no opinion about how this film may or may not mangle the source material. What I saw was a stylized, retro-ish actioner by Frank Miller, similar in look to his 2005 film Sin City (lots of graphic-novelish black and white with splashes of color, and kinetic direction). There's a sort-of dead, mildly existential cop who fights crime as the masked Spirit (Gabriel Macht), and who continually takes on his nemesis, a sort-of dead villain named The Octopus (Samuel L. Jackson). There is a McGuffin about valuable lost relics, but that plot device is simply an excuse to line up all the colorful players, including two curvy females (Eva Mendes and Scarlett Johansson), and let them ham up the snappy dialogue. It's compact, fast-moving and agreeably silly (like a very intense TV Batman episode); the violence is comic and all characters prove remarkably hearty.

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