The Spirit is definitely a very unique movie that’s for sure. It really does walk a fine line between being a total comedy with how over the top everything is and a serious action film. In the end the film actually does blend this combo over very well for nearly all of its screen time but ends up faltering near the end. I knew things were about to get dicey when the cat showed up….
The movie starts with the Spirit being called in since there was a sighting of his arch nemesis, the Octopus. The Octopus manages to murder someone real quick and steal a suitcase first but Sand escapes with the other Suitcase. Octopus crushes the Spirit and now the hero must figure out a way to catch the guy. What is the Octopus doing and how can he be stopped? The Octopus hinted that he knows something about the Spirit’s immortality and Spirit’s old flame Sand is involves so he really has to see this through to the end.
Spirit is definitely a movie that is bonkers and isn’t afraid to really get out there. The first moment I knew something was up was when the Spirit and Octopus have their confrontation mere minutes after the film began. Usually the hero can’t meet the villain that quickly. Then as their fight escalates you can tell that neither one is a normal human because they are taking some really crazy attacks. They seem to murder each other several times during the fight.
Well, Spirit and Octopus both appear to be immortal. Not in an eternal life kind of way but in a “We can’t be killed way”. That actually ties into Octopus’ plans which is to use a serum which will actually give him eternal life. Sand has the vase though so she’s in danger now. It’s quite a lot of plot here and that’s not even accounting for Spirit’s origin story. It’s a fun dynamic though as apparently the hero and villain will often spend a whole night beating each other up only to walk away when it’s all over.
It’s not like they’re pals or anything but they do seem to joke around a bit. They both know that they can’t destroy the other so I can see how the futile nature of their fights would become humorous to them. Octopus definitely seems to have better fighting abilities than the Spirit though. I’d argue he had the edge for the majority of their fight with ease.
Where the Spirit really shines is with the color palette. The movie uses a lot of very interesting visual styles and I would consider it a total hit. This was extremely unique and actually worked out. It’s not one of those gimmicks that you’ll shake your head at but one you will give the thumbs up right away. Not only does it make the Spirit look mysterious but it gives the whole film a pretty epic air. When characters talk to each other the backgrounds will often disappear.
You have characters fading into the light or into the darkness. Even Sand showing up from the water is a very ominous scene. The most every day normal scenes will look different like this and it really does work quite well. It captures that Noir feeling as well. Mix in the Spirit’s numerous monologues and you’ve really got something going here. It helps with the film’s dramatic atmosphere.
As mentioned though, it gets so dramatic that I have to see a lot of these moments as comedic ones. Spirit loves talking about the city and his past. While that is a staple of the Noir genre, you just can’t help but feel like the movie is parodying it. Something about the way the Spirit is having his conversations just gives you that feeling. Then of course for the comedic moments you have most of the Octopus scenes. He’s dressed up as a different culture each tie he appears and the guy is always messing around. He never seems to take anything seriously and murders his henchmen on the regular.
This is definitely some dark humor but the henchmen aren’t smart enough to do anything except what they’re told. So for example one of them even murders himself because the villain told him to do so. It’s certainly tragic to be one of those henchmen that’s for sure. Another gets blended which was a really intense scene to be sure. So the film has its dark moments thrown in as well, mainly as dark humor.
Now, where does the film go wrong? Well, as you can guess with the cat, we get some animal violence as the Octopus shows off his latest conquest to the Spirit. He can melt anything by using the special blood/serum that he wanted although it would simply power the Spirit up so that guy needs to try and grab it. He should have used it on the henchmen instead of on the cat though. That would have been a lot better.
So the film instantly lost a pair of stars for that. Meanwhile the film is trying to make the Spirit a parody of James Bond to an extent. I definitely don’t remember this trait in the comics but he seems to fall in love with every girl out there. Spirit seems to believe that every lady in the city is fair game so he openly has affairs with all of them. Fortunately for him every girl loves him as well so it’s quite easy to make this happen. We do have two main heroines here who both like him as well and he’s not shy about still making moves in front of him.
So the Spirit isn’t exactly the most heroic guy. Even ignoring that, he doesn’t have the best relationship with the cops. He’s always on edge and even threatens to punch out the chief without any good reason. The cops have a point that the Spirit is really running a one man show and the cops who accompany him all get murdered so naturally there would be some bad blood here. It’s hard to get a read on the Spirit. He’s a fun guy to be sure but I definitely wouldn’t call him very heroic. He seems extremely unhinged.
The Octopus is certainly a fun character. He is definitely a villain as seen with the cat but at least the guy has concrete goals. I’m not sure if having eternal life is the automatic win card that he thinks it is, but I suppose it doesn’t hurt to live longer since he is already fairly tough to beat. He reminds me a bit of the Joker with how crazy he is the whole time.
His right hand woman Floss also does a good job of keeping him on track. If he starts to go off the deep end then she reminds him of what was going on. To an extent she doesn’t always seem to be thrilled to have him as leader though so he should probably watch his back. That said, I guess by the end she still seems loyal enough.
As for Sand, I wasn’t a fan. In the flashbacks she already seemed quite obsessed with jewels and this didn’t change when she got older. In a way she’s like Catwoman only much more violent as she actively murders a lot of people in order to get what she wants. I was surprised at just how brutal she can be. I figured the movie was going to play her out as more of a misunderstood character but it actually went all the way as a villain.
We’ve also got Ellen who liked the Spirit but still gets jealous when he has other affairs. That’s why I don’t see the relationship ever working out. Either she is okay with being cheated on the whole time or she is going to need to find someone else. The Spirit doesn’t seem like the loyal sort after all.
In fact, there’s a pretty intense scene where the villains use that against him. He can’t resist any girl and one of the villains is a lady so you can picture how that goes. He just goes down like such a chump that you can’t help but laugh. This is the hero who is supposed to protect us? Okay….yeah that’s not going to end very well. The Spirit definitely has his priorities…too bad they aren’t the right ones.
Overall, The Spirit is a very different kind of action film. It’s really all over the place and in a lot of ways this works out. It’s really unpredictable and I loved what they did with the visual directing. The whole thing has a comic book/noir approach that nobody else has really used before. It’s a shame that the Spirit himself wasn’t a little better at being a hero but his inner monologues are a blast. If you can get around the cat melting scene then this is definitely a film you’ll have a lot of fun with. I’d definitely be up for a sequel coming out at some point since there’s a lot of potential here. That said, I think it would be difficult to capture the same energy twice so maybe it’s best to not even try.