CON: The Spirit
I know I should be excited for this movie. I've been reading Frank Miller almost my entire life. I think Eva Mendes is smoking hot. Samuel L. Jackson is still the muthaf*cking man. SIN CITY is one of my favorite comic book movies ever made. So why isn't this film doing anything for me? Miller, Jackson, the film's leading man, Gabriel Macht, and Jamie King were all brought on stage to try to convince me.
THE SPIRIT is another adaptation of the comic book world. This time Frank Miller has the director chair all to himself, a job he hasn't had since.... well, ever. And it's not really his original material being put to screen. That honor goes to writer/artist, Will Eisner, the celebrated comic icon who Miller befriended back in 1973 when Frank was looking to break into the mainstream business. Miller referred to their relationship as a "twenty-five year argument." At one point it seemed like Frank was getting choked up talking about his late friend but seemed fine an instant later. I'm not afraid to say that Frank Miller is kind of a weird dude. He's always making some funny growling noises when he talks and almost never hears anything anyone says to him. Watching him on stage you'd think he was sleeping with his eyes open. He's always entertaining though and he really seems to have a passion for this story. And he looooves the ladies.
Once Samuel L. Jackson stopped announcing his presence by standing on a chair with his arms raised we were allowed to start the panel. The first clip they showed was referred to as the "technology clip" and features Eva Mendes and Macht under water, trying to retrieve two crates while The Octopus (Jackson) shoots at them from the surface. All the under water shots were actually filmed dry because Miller considers filming under water a f*cking nightmare. Everything looks pretty cool including Mendes' skin-tight swimsuit and her perfectly applied under water make-up. A running theme in these clips is how cheesy the dialog is. There's a fine line between acting over-the-top and over-acting and this cast seems to be straddling it. The next clip, referred to as "the love clip", flat out fails to stimulate the crowd. The Spirit and a lovely doctor exchange witty banter about falling in love until another pretty girl shows up and Spirit jets with her. Doc gets pissed and throws a scalpel that sticks into the door. The next, and final, clip is by far the best moment of the presentation. Miller introduces the "clash of the titans' which shows The Spirit and Octopus having a brawl in what seems like a giant swamp. Octopus starts things by beating him with a severed head. Then he pulls out a gigantic wrench. Then a cinder block. The Spirit finally gets the upper hand and delivers no less than fifty punches to Pus's face, burying him in the mud. Five seconds later Octopus pulls out a toilet and smashes it over our hero's head, pinning his arms within the seat. He let's out a ridiculous laugh and says 'C'mon, toilets are always funny!' the crowd loves it. Miller wakes up.
- Jackson said this was the first time he had to audition with gloves on. The Octopus was only ever know from his striped glove covered hands in the comic.
- The quest for a bigger gun kept everyone in the production busy during the shoot. Miller started it all by piling four guns on top of one another and then wiring them together. Jackson joined the fun too but couldn't lift the weapons by the time they were finished. They needed wires just to make it look like The Octopus was carrying around and firing the things.
- The film is set in "never time". There's costumes from the 50's and 60's but the characters also carry around cell phones.
- Every shot was questioned after they filmed it as to whether or not Eisner would have approved. Miller says he probably wouldn't but went ahead with it anyway.
- Jackson starts taking shit over with stories about his action figure collection. He has every toy ever made of one of his characters sitting in his office. Mace Windu (his favorite) and Afro Samurai are staring each other down on his desk. He wishes he had one of Ray Arnold, his role in JURASSIC PARK but says he and Wayne Knight got screwed because their two characters were the only ones to not get a figure made of them.
- Jackson keeps it rolling by saying when he was a kid, Nick Fury was a white dude. He follows this up with "See, you can grow up to be a black man too."
- I'm pretty sure the rest of the panel has left as Jackson continues his one man show. He considers The Octopus to be a black Nazi and that he looks good doing it. The guy knows how to control an audience. Every word out of his mouth at this point is sending the crowd into fits of laughter.
- Miller gets a question and someone has to push his power button so he can answer. He says there are more Jewish characters in this movie than a year's worth of comic books. Power off.
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