Review: Spirit book
Written for the screen and directed by Frank Miller (creator of Sin City, 300) and presented in his dynamic comic-book visual style, The Spirit stars Gabriel Macht as the eponymous hero and his alter-ego, the presumed-dead young detective Denny Colt, as he fights crime in his hometown of Central City using nothing but his wits and fists.
I get to write quite a lot of stuff for JoBlo.com but this is the first time that I've been giving the responsibility of reviewing a product. Naturally, when the book first arrived at my house I skipped over all of the boring stuff (words) and went looking through the pages for the pictures of the hot chicks. Like most everyone else the aesthetic that Frank Miller is playing with in THE SPIRIT blows me away, but there was never any doubt in my mind that the real draw to this project was the myriad beauties involved. Eva Mendes, Scarlett Johansson, Jaime King, Sarah Paulsen, Paz Vega. We're talking an embarrassment of riches here.
I was done with the book in about ten minutes, give or take, but then I figured I had better give the thing my genuine journalistic respect since the good fellows at Titan Publishing had been kind enough to send me the thing. What I read in the 200 or so pages actually managed to reverse the opinion that I had of THE SPIRIT. And in a good way, too. I have to say that I genuinely enjoyed reading it.
The first 6 or so pages feature an introduction by writer/director Frank Miller and this clearly passionate love letter to Will Eisner sets the tone for everything that is to follow. As it is I now feel I have a better understanding of what Miller is trying to do with this movie. The Spirit was a paradigm-breaking comic and Miller, for better or worse, is trying to do something equally new with the film. I still think those scenes where The Octopus looks like a Nazi samurai or an arctic pimp look ridiculous but I kind of respect and understand the thinking behind them now. Miller is out to do something completely different. It might and may very well end up being a complete turd basket, but to run that risk is the only way to do it properly.
The book is essentially a history of how the movie THE SPIRIT came to be about. I worked in a comic shop when I was younger but I didn't know a thing about Eisner's The Spirit before I read this thing. A pretty interesting history of both the man and his comic is documented here, along with Frank Miller's and the two producers. Everyone talks about how much they love the source material and whether or not that's manufactured, the project comes off as one that the people involved in it are desperate to do right.
If you're interested in the technology and the green screen work and all that geeky stuff, there is a lot of information on how what Miller is using has progressed from SIN CITY and 300. There's some stuff about The Octopus' guns and his other weapons too.
Of course, while all that stuff is informative (and it is), if you're a normal person and not a perverted child like me then your primary interest in this book is the artwork. And there's tons of it. It's beautiful too. From the beginning the pages are adorned with original Will Eisner artwork, which segues over the course of the book into production art and behind-the-scenes pics, and stills from the movie. Everything looks either gorgeous or bad ass or both, better in my estimation, than SIN CITY.
Then of course, there are the chicks. And those girls look good. Miller doesn't mention it and neither do the producers but I'm assuming that while pushing artistic boundaries is high on their agenda, their number one aim with this movie is to produce a piece of art that sustains a two hour boner. Nothing flashy, just one long, uninterrupted erection. Eva Mendes gets the most love but there are two-page spreads on the rest of them too. Not that she doesn't deserve it since she looks incredible.
Bottom line with the book is that it's totally worth it. I only ever felt the need to spend money on one other visual companion to a movie and that was THE FOUNTAIN. As much as I love that movie, this thing beats that hands down. The artwork is just gorgeous, but what is also great is the production diaries. I have to be honest, when I saw those trailers for THE SPIRIT I hated them. But look, what I understand now is that since the original Spirit comic pushed the medium, Miller seems to genuinely feel like he has to do the same to do the project justice. It might end up blowing but it might end up being kind of incredible. You've got to at least respect that, and probably, support it. You might have seen movies that looked like this, but you definitely have not seen this before.
Finally, a huge thanks to Titan Publishing for sending me the book. It really is a beautiful collection of art. And you can get your very own copy right HERE!
Also: I don't know much about Frank Miller, but I not convinced that guy has a top to his head. He is always wearing a hat. What is this guy hiding? He's like LL Cool J. If you pulled that fedora off he'd look like Ray Liotta at the end of HANNIBAL I bet. That's my guess.