Among the comic book faithful, Will Eisner is practically a messiah—and perhaps rightfully so. As creator of The Spirit, Eisner laid the groundwork for nearly all of what's considered to be the modern comic form, from innovative graphic design to serialized storytelling. However, while fun enough for a cursory flip-though, the classic Spirit comics just don't have much to offer the modern casual comic reader—and, as it turns out, neither does Frank Miller's film version.
Though most famous for his noirish reinterpretation of the Batman mythos with the comic The Dark Knight Returns, Miller also wrote the comic, adapted the screenplay, and co-directed Sin City—a film that was a hard-boiled hoot, thanks in part to co-director Robert Rodriguez's unique black and white/color splattered cinematography. With The Spirit, director Miller borrows a lot from Sin City's style and tone, with wildly uninteresting results.
The setup: When slain cop Denny Colt (Gabriel Macht) is injected with a mysterious serum, it not only brings him back to life, but also renders him virtually impossible to kill. Shedding his previous identity, Colt becomes The Spirit, and devotes his "life" to his city, and in particular, crime busting. Along the way, he fights his arch-nemesis The Octopus (Samuel L. Jackson) and tongue-wrestles a bevy of hot chicks (including Sarah Paulson, Eva Mendes, Paz Vega, and Scarlett Johansson, in her most community theater-worthy role yet). Aaaaand... that's about it.
Despite all the visual flash and bang, The Spirit is a bonafide snooze. It's boring from minute one, and even set pieces like Samuel L. Jackson goose-stepping around in a Nazi uniform confuse more than entertain. While most of the acting is serviceable—ScarJo notwithstanding—the script unsuccessfully attempts to balance noir and whimsy on top of heavy-handed cliché... so is it any real surprise the whole mess comes tumbling down?