Welcome to the latest installment of “Doom and Doomer,” in which members of the Legion take a look at comics on the big screen. Tonight, your participants are Jim Doom and Doom DeLuise, looking at the new Spirit movie, starring Gabriel Macht, Eva Mendes, Samuel L. Jackson, and Scarlett Johansson, based on the character created by Will Eisner, written and directed for the big screen by Frank Miller.
JIM DOOM: So. We just saw The Spirit.
DOOM DELUISE: Unfortunately, you are correct.
JIM DOOM: I would imagine that its December 25 release date inadvertently resulted in a record for the highest number of people to curse Jesus on his birthday.
DOOM DELUISE: Happy birthday, Jesus. Hope you like crap!
JIM DOOM: So I have not ever in my entire life of going to movies ever felt so compelled to walk out. If we weren’t going to see it with the purpose of reviewing it, I would have. This was the worst movie I have ever seen. It was so very very terrible. Will Eisner must have truly pissed off Frank Miller before he died.
DOOM DELUISE: Well, I’m an expert on terrible movies. I’ve seen, literally, thousands of atrocious movies. The only time I’ve ever walked out of a theatre was during the first Scary Movie flick, but, boy, did I ever want to get up and leave this one, so I know where you’re coming from. I don’t think there was a single redeeming quality to this thing. This was worse than Ghost Rider, Punisher: War Zone, and Fantastic Four 2 combined.
JIM DOOM: It really was! I mean really, for anyone listening to this podcast (ed. note: or reading the transcript) who thinks this might be hyperbole, it was so bad! If I was going to be forced to re-watch another terrible comic book movie, I would choose Punisher: War Zone or Ghost Rider in a heartbeat. I never ever want to see this movie again.
I truly hope that when we finish this review, I can get away with never thinking about it again. This was a seemingly endless string of meandering scenes that went absolutely nowhere. Many of them reminded me of those free-writing exercises you do in high school English classes, where your teacher says “Just start writing!” and you realize at one point that, maybe five minutes ago, you took a wrong turn and the writing wandered aimlessly for just long enough to where you finally snapped back to reality and realized this wasn’t working. Then you go back and do a second draft. This movie felt like an endless first draft of things that didn’t deserve a first draft.
I loved how they actually took a few minutes to have a directionless conversation about how the conversation was taking too long without going anywhere!
Oh this was so terrible.
DOOM DELUISE: Yeah, what was the joke you said during that scene? That whole leaving a seat between us to prove we’re not gay thing made it hard to hear.
JIM DOOM: Well, I don’t remember exact lines, but I think the Spirit said something like “Can you get to the point? I’m not getting any younger here.” I just turned and said “Amen.” Nothing clever, but it was an emotional release for me.
Congratufreakinglations to Frank Miller if that was a self-aware joke, but for crying out loud, if it was, how about instead of making self-aware jokes about the pointlessness of your movie, maybe just fix it.
And I have to wonder, what was even the point of making a Spirit movie? What he did to the source material ranged from spitting on to butchering. He seems to be able to write one character, so it seems strange to decide to impose his Millerness onto a character that really doesn’t deserve it.
DOOM DELUISE: The way the movie flowed, it seemed like we were watching something by a decent enough writer who just didn’t have an editor and was given free reign to do whatever he felt like doing, only he was simply phoning it in for the paycheck.
JIM DOOM: I don’t know what made you bestow the title of “decent enough” onto that. This is how most of the conversations went:
Person A: “It’s awfully quiet.”
Person B: “Quiet?”
Person A: “Quiet quiet.”
Person B: “Quiet.”
Person A: “Too quiet.”
Person B: “Too quiet?”
Just endless repeating of whatever word the previous person said, only change up the emphasis now and then. Goddang that’s snappy!
DOOM DELUISE: But, like, you can see some things he was going for that were clever little writer tricks, but they fell completely flat. Like, when the Spirit tells Sand Seref that she needs to drop her armor, and he means both the actual armor she’s holding and her metaphorical armor that she keeps up to prevent herself from becoming emotionally involved.
Ok, I’m full of crap. That was awful, and he’s not a decent enough writer.
JIM DOOM: Yes, I consider that stuff terrible. Oh and the attempts at humor. Oh my God.
DOOM DELUISE: What the HELL.
JIM DOOM: Those clone sidekicks were so terrible.
DOOM DELUISE: Truly. Maddeningly. I kept thinking, “What made that guy, that actor, decide to pursue this as a profession? He’s so freaking terrible at this acting stuff.”
JIM DOOM: I mean just not even funny in the slightest. Do you remember the scene where the Octopus is angry because he got the wrong box, and the henchman is ordered to kill himself? That scene drug on sooooo long, it seemed like maybe even Frank Miller realized it. Except rather than thinking “This scene is too long. Maybe I could improve it by trimming it down,” he seemed to think “This scene is too long. I will inexplicably change the background throughout in order to keep people’s interest.”
But I think that scene was supposed to be hilarious.
DOOM DELUISE: Oh, yeah, Jesus. Or the aforementioned scene where the Octopus was dressed as a Nazi. That took FOREVER, and it accomplished nothing.
JIM DOOM: I feel like the Spirit’s monologues were just retreads of things I’ve heard Miller write hundreds of times before, from Batman to Daredevil to Sin City.
And for a writer-director who only does one thing over and over regardless of the subject matter, could there be a better choice for an actor than Samuel L. Jackson?
DOOM DELUISE: Peas in a pod, those two. I felt really sorry for Kevin Arnold’s dad, too. That guy hasn’t been in anything for years, and, here, he’s just relegated to yelling boring, cliched dialogue and putzing around like a buffoon.
JIM DOOM: Haha, I knew I recognized him from somewhere.
So have you ever read any Spirit comics?
DOOM DELUISE: I can’t say that I have. After I saw the first Batman movie, I went to the comic store the next day and started buying comics. When I watched the X-Men cartoon in the early 90s, I was drawn straight to the comics out of a love for these awesome new characters I was seeing on the TV. Thanks to this movie, I will never, ever buy a Spirit comic book.
JIM DOOM: It’s too bad, and I don’t blame you at all, but from watching this movie, you’d think that the Spirit was basically Sin City with a guy who wears a mask. It is so totally not that. I ended up dropping the new Spirit comic book a while back because I didn’t enjoy it, but I have a few volumes of the Will Eisner strip, and it’s just so much fun. It’s so imaginative and clever and funny. It’s just so completely everything this movie wasn’t. And from what I understood of the Spirit’s origin, Miller appeared to have significantly changed things, and I have no idea why. There was nothing positive to come from what he changed.
It really came off like a combination of two things: outright mockery of what Eisner did with The Spirit, plus a creative mind who is really truly only capable of one thing. Seeing this movie and what Miller did to this world for no discernible reason actually makes me surprised that 300 wasn’t full of warriors talking about dames and the city.
Although, of course, now that I think about it, they sure did love their city.
DOOM DELUISE: They gave their last breath to defend it.
JIM DOOM: They gained immortality. They were Sparta’s Spirit.
DOOM DELUISE: And she was their mother. And lover.
JIM DOOM: I will say, this movie accomplished one good thing. When comic book movies suck, the general response from the nerds is that the studios don’t understand the source material, they get writers and directors who don’t appreciate the source material, they make senseless changes to the source material, and end up creating movies that suck as a result.
What “The Spirit” has done is clearly demonstrated, without a shadow of the doubt, that pissing on source material and creating terrible movies is not a task that is limited to the outsiders. Avi Arad could not dream of the sentimental defecation that ultimate insider Frank Miller has heaped upon this comics property.
I can’t believe that people were writing checks to make this movie, and that the people writing the checks thought this was ready to be released to the public.
Did it just help that Will Eisner’s dead? Like maybe everyone was like “Well, he’s dead, so I guess we gotta trust Frank!” But if that’s the case, where were all the producers that ruin every other comic book movie that are supposed to say “No, this needs more of that stuff that all the big blockbusters have!”
I would’ve LOVED for Michael Bay to have had a chance to do a final edit, maybe do some re-shoots, re-write some dialogue.
DOOM DELUISE: I can think of one of two possible scenarios that resulted in this shit burger:
a) The Producers said, “Hey, Frank, make it more like Sin City or 300, stylized and gritty and all that shit,” and he went along, got sick of their meddling and purposefully made a bad movie, or b) The Producers said, “Well, we clearly don’t know what the hell comic book nerds want out of a movie, so let’s just let that crazy old idiot make this thing without any editorial restraint.”
JIM DOOM: It can’t be a), because if the producers were meddling and trying to make changes, it’s not as if Frank could just sneak a version out to theaters without them knowing.
DOOM DELUISE: That’s true.
JIM DOOM: But I can’t imagine it’s b) either, because those are the producers who ruin every movie!
DOOM DELUISE: Well, then, I can’t think of any possible scenario for how this movie sucks as much as it does.
JIM DOOM: They say “We clearly don’t know what comic nerds want out of a movie — BUT WE DON’T CARE BECAUSE THIS MOVIE HAS TO APPEAL TO THE MASSES BECAUSE COMIC NERDS ALONE CANNOT SUSTAIN A MOVIE.”
DOOM DELUISE: I mean, how the hell do you make a movie that seems to be TRYING to ACTIVELY SUCK?
JIM DOOM: It would be nice if Frank Miller singlehandedly financed the movie, went broke, and was thus unable to continue to crank out material that seems to despise its audience. Maybe he’d have to try again. Mind you, I don’t wish for Frank Miller to be poor, but he seems to have too much “Kiss my ass” money.
That’s the only way I can imagine him either sleepwalking his way through this or even worse, thinking he was making something super sweet.
DOOM DELUISE: Let me ask you this. Before we went to the movie, you told me you’d heard comparisons between this and The Goddamn Batman, which, based on past reviews, we’re both getting a great deal of joy out of. What’s the difference between what works for ASSBAR and what falls completely flat and awful in The Spirit?
Because, let’s face it, ASSBAR is not without its very vocal critics in the comic community.
JIM DOOM: To be clear, I hadn’t heard comparisons between this and ASSBAR; a review I read seemed to struggle to understand the movie, and the descriptions of things that baffled the reviewer reminded me of some of the reactions to ASSBAR. So I wondered if maybe Miller was doing something similar.
Maybe, in his mind, he thinks he is. Maybe he really is, and I’ve been wrong to think ASSBAR is calculated brilliance.
What I like about ASSBAR is that it’s an absurd comic, but in its own way a completely legitimate take on a guy who dresses as a bat and beats up bad guys. The absurdity is somewhat isolated to Batman and his growing sphere of influence. What makes it interesting to me is that Batman is rooted in a relatively sane world, at least in terms of adherence to rational behavior. That’s why Batman is a problem in ASSBAR, because he is this unhinged caricature of a crime-noir detective.
This was all of the absurdity with no roots. There also seems to be a subtle statement being made about Batman in ASSBAR; I could not detect anything either subtle or approaching a statement in this movie.
DOOM DELUISE: Unless the statement is: YOU JUST WASTED YOUR MONEY.
JIM DOOM: It was just careless excess littered around for no apparent reason. And what makes it worse is that it used the vehicle of an established character with a rich history. This wasn’t a deconstruction of the Spirit, or a reasonable alternate take, in my opinion. This was just Frank Miller trying to cram the world of Denny Colt into his cookie cutters, but the Spirit ain’t dough, man. He’s a 60 year old cookie.
DOOM DELUISE: I remember when the first teaser for this hit, the fan boys’ major complaint was that his suit wasn’t blue. Boy, oh boy, did good ol’ Frank give ’em something else to complain about.
JIM DOOM: Oh no freaking kidding, man.
DOOM DELUISE: That reminds me, when I first saw the teaser, I turned to a friend and said, “Looks like that’s Sin City’s SPIRITual successor, eh?”
He didn’t laugh, so I wanted to repeat it and make you laugh.
JIM DOOM: There was a point toward the end where I was starting to get kind of excited, and I was like “Hold on, am I actually finally getting into this movie?” And I realized I was just getting excited because the end had to be near.
The repetition of the word egg isn’t funny, by the way.
DOOM DELUISE: The only exciting moment for me was about midway through when I ripped a fart and didn’t crap my pants. I nearly gambled and lost in the middle of the theatre!
JIM DOOM: Dammit, I smelled that. That was terrible. I meant to ask you about that.
I’m serious, that was awful.
DOOM DELUISE: I’m sorry.
JIM DOOM: Your ass was commenting on the movie.
DOOM DELUISE: Oh, yeah, you don’t say, Sam Jackson. Here’s a witty rejoinder!
JIM DOOM: EGGSactly!
I can’t believe how much I hated this movie. At least with something awful like Punisher: War Zone, it was terrible, but there was a little fun in watching the spectacle unfold. This movie just made me want to leave.
Did you hear that guy laughing loudly during the movie? By the end, I swear, they were forced laughs. It actually made me think he felt bad for dragging that poor girl to this movie, so it was like “Ha ha, see? This isn’t terrible. I’m laughing!”
Either that, or he’s a freaking idiot.
DOOM DELUISE: Well, considering he laughed at the preview for Dance Movie or whatever that stupid new Wayans Brothers comedy is, I’d say the latter.
Oh, wait, no, that was you!
JIM DOOM: That argument about there not being an I in Team cracked me up.
If I had the option of leaving The Spirit to go watch a secret advance screening of Dance Movie, I would’ve hopped over that wall to get out that much quicker.
DOOM DELUISE: I would’ve rewatched Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector, if that option was presented to me after the first five minutes of The Spirit.
JIM DOOM: I wanted to leave after probably the first 5 to 10 minutes, but I was thinking “Nah, you can’t really judge a movie after such a short time.” But you really could. It was all that poorly done.
Never did anything happen that made me reconsider.
DOOM DELUISE: This movie just made me so angry. Like, during that scene where the two young dumb kids were riding on the back of the train, dangling off, and the girl was like, “This is so much fun,” I was seriously wishing in my head that they’d both fall off the train.
Now, I know that wouldn’t be possible, since it was a flashback, but I kept thinking stuff like that throughout the whole movie.
Like, the way that young girl on the police force acted, and the way those buffoon henchmen acted, and the way Scarlet Tits acted, I kept thinking that maybe Frank Miller’s directing notes to those people were, like, “Hey, stop all that acting. Dumb it down. Be stupider and sillier. Say it in a funny voice or something”
JIM DOOM: That really is a pretty good summation of it. I just hated this so much.
DOOM DELUISE: It’s interesting to note, to our listeners out there, when we do these Doom and Doomer reviews, we usually go in a format of talking about how it differed from the comics, etc, and then discuss the Good and the Bad of each movie we see.
THERE’S A REASON WE HAVEN’T BROKEN IT DOWN AND TALKED ABOUT THE GOOD.
JIM DOOM: God this was so bad. I just don’t even know what to say anymore.
I feel bad for everyone who’s in it, but I hope that your compensation arrangement isn’t at all dependent on residuals.
DOOM DELUISE: Remember how Sam Jackson delivers that big, ultimate badass one-liner to The Spirit after he shoots him, like, a thousand times? He says, “I’m the Octopus. I always have eight of everything.”
Not only is that a really stupid line, to cap off a really stupid scene, but it’s not even true. He only has one assistant. He only has one truck. He has hundreds of those henchmen.
JIM DOOM: Yeah, and I think he only had four guns prior to that line, didn’t he?
DOOM DELUISE: Yeah, and, when he delivered it, I noticed that each of his two new guns had four barrels each, meaning he had eight barrels to shoot the Spirit with. So, if the other four guns prior had eight barrels, too, then he didn’t just have eight barrels. He had twenty-eight.
JIM DOOM: Let’s make that 32 just for fun.
DOOM DELUISE: Can we edit that in post production so I don’t sound like an idiot?
JIM DOOM: I think it’s your turn to post the podcast and the transcript, so that’ll be up to you. But if you’re going to edit it out of the podcast, at least leave it in the transcript.
DOOM DELUISE: That’d probably be easier, anyway. I hate editing the transcripts. And, besides, nobody actually reads them.
JIM DOOM: You know what I’m looking forward to, is a positive review of this movie. I would really like to see what someone can possibly say to try to convince other people that this was a good movie.
At this point, I am convinced that whichever critic said The Spirit was one of the year’s best movies, as quoted in the TV commercial, was playing a cruel joke on his readers. I only hope it was qualified in the original context.
DOOM DELUISE: Ok, that was, seriously, like a couple minutes straight of dead air. Let’s wrap this up. Final thoughts/warnings?
DOOM DELUISE: Wow, Paz Vega’s naked boobs are really nice.
JIM DOOM: Oh man, what about that scene with the henchman with a tiny head on a foot? I cannot believe that was as long as it was or even in the movie.
DOOM DELUISE: Wow, I somehow blocked that out of my memory until just now.
Do you have any more naked pictures of Paz Vega?
JIM DOOM: Final warning: Please, don’t go see this. I don’t really recommend the modern Spirit comics, but if you want to expose yourself to something Spirit, anything is better than this. You can probably find a used copy of one of the hardcover Will Eisner volumes on amazon for what you’ll pay to see this movie.
But, I guess one positive about this movie is that, Scarlett Johansen aside, Miller cast some attractive women. But I’m just not that interested in watching something terrible that I hate to see attractive women acting badly.
I could just watch the video to November Rain or something, which would be awesome.
DOOM DELUISE: That video is so great.
Priest: May I have the rings?
Axl: The rings, Slash.
Slash: The rings?
Priest and Axl: Rings!
Slash: Oh … rings.
Slash: I’m going to go play a guitar solo in the desert.
Slash: But it won’t really be a desert. I’ll be standing in a tiny chromakey set and the desert will be digitally inserted.
Slash: And a cat will be watching.
Slash: The desert … she calls to me. She is my mother. And I am
HER LEAD GUITARIST.