My city yawns

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Comic fans are critically awaiting the upcoming The Watchmen, the film adaptation of Alan Moore's seminal graphic novel. Maybe because the source is decades older, or because one of its own is at the helm, the community doesn't seem as riled about the sanctity of The Spirit, the groundbreaking 1940s Will Eisner comic behind the solo directing debut of Sin City's Frank Miller.

They should be.

The biggest gripe with the Miller-Robert Rodriguez collaboration on the screen version of Sin City was one of style over substance. On his own, Miller skews the balance even further.

The Spirit (Gabriel Macht), a cop resurrected (literally) as a business-suited crime fighter, cuts a fine figure prowling the rooftops of a stunning cityscape. Decked in neo-noir couture, the many women he encounters, including old flame Eva Mendes, standby gal Sarah Paulson and Scarlett Johansson as the henchwoman to Spirit's arch-nemesis The Octopus (Samuel L. Jackson), have never been more smoking.

Beyond the look, the quality control falls apart. Miller stabs at various elements Eisner used - comedy, drama, romance - then doesn't sew them together. He teases with a little crisp, noir-ish dialogue but too often slips into long, clunky passages of exposition. And he gets no consistency in performance; only Jackson, working on autopilot, seems at ease in his character's skin.

Given Eisner's standing as the godfather of content-rich graphic novels, Miller's treatment of his brainchild is almost criminal.

"The Spirit"

Now playing

Grade: C-