Mr. Movie

'The Spirit': All sizzle, not steak

Gabriel Macht is the Spirit. He’s a do-gooder that can’t die.

Shot, stabbed or whatever, he heals in no time. The Spirit doesn’t know why. His nemesis is a bad-doer. The Octopus is an insane scientist with megalomaniacal ambitions. He knows why the Spirit can’t die.

The main characters may not be able to die but movies do and this one does.

Pity poor Samuel L. Jackson, a brilliant actor wasted as the villain in this waste of your time. Also lost in the mess is excellent work by pheromone heavy Eva Mendes who pulses like a black widow spider waiting to do in her mate. Which on consideration is a much more exciting plot possibility than “The Spirit.”

But I digress.

The three main characters do an awkward 1 hour and 40-minute dance filled with bloody goo, mucky goo, flashbacks, flash forwards and flashy effects.

In terms of plot, a trio of clones, henchmen of the Octopus, and Mendes go after two boxes of treasure. She wants the one he gets, he wants hers. One contains a glimpse of immortality and the other an elixir that will make a person immortal.

The Octopus wants immortality. She wants shiny things. The Spirit has a history and feelings for her, a Batman-thing going on with the city’s police commissioner and his daughter, and every other woman in the plot.

Did I say plot? Sorry. What passes for a plot.

It’s hard to say exactly what writer/director Frank Miller is trying to do with The Spirit. Sometimes the awful dialogue is done in overly dramatic comic book style. Then, he switches gears, and the characters spew modern-day phrases and epithets in equally awful chunks of dialogue.

Miller tries drama, then comedy and when that doesn’t connect he hopes his patented neo-noir effects and innovative sets will lull you into thinking this is genius.

It’s not.

An original style works once. For Miller it worked twice. He wrote and directed the mind-boggling Sin City and wrote the equally entertaining and effects-laden 300.

They had real plots. The Spirit -- based on Will Eisner’s graphic comic series -- doesn’t. So for Miller the third time isn’t the charm.

Mr. Movie rating: 1/2 star

Rated PG-13 for mature themes, violence, language. It opens Dec. 25 at the Carmike 12 and at the Fairchild Cinemas 12.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen

4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.

3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.

2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.

0 stars: Speaks for itself.