“A slain cop is resurrected as a masked crime-fighter in The Spirit, but Frank Miller’s solo writing-directing debut plunges into a watery grave early on and spends roughly the next 100 minutes gasping for air,” writes Variety‘s Justin Chang.
“Pushing well past the point of self-parody, Miller has done Will Eisner‘s pioneering comic strip no favors by drenching it in the same self-consciously neo-noir monochrome put to much more compelling use in Sin City. Graphic-novel geeks will be enticed by the promise of sleek babes and equally eye-popping f/x, but general audiences will probably pass on this visually arresting but wholly disposable Miller-lite exercise.
“If this summer’s The Dark Knight raised the bar for seriousness, ambition and dramatic realism in the comicbook-based superhero genre, The Spirit reps its antithesis: Relentlessly cartoonish and campy, it’s a work of pure digital artifice , feverishly committed to its own beautiful, hollow universe to the exclusion of any real narrative interest or engagement with its characters.
“There’s no denying the fastidiousness and occasional virtuosity of the overall design, or the lustrous texture of the widescreen images. But all this incessant monochrome has its perils, too: When a man falls to the ground, his body covered with white bloodstains, it’s unclear whether he’s been felled by bullets or by incontinent birds.”