Following some truly awful reviews upon its theatrical release at the start of the year, we’d be lying if we said The Spirit’s arrival on Blu-ray was highly anticipated. Based on Will Eisner’s influential Forties comic hero, contemporary graphic novelist Frank Miller writes and directs this adaptation, utilising the same striking greenscreen effects that served big-screen versions of his own works Sin City and 300 so well. Unfortunately, without Robert Rodriguez or Zack Snyder at the helm, the resulting feature is overly reliant on its tongue-in-cheek action and slick visuals. As the Spirit, presumed dead cop Denny Colt (Macht) uses his newfound anonymity and invulnerability to protect Central City from crime, especially the equally indestructible Octopus (Jackson). With his old flames including jewel thief Sand Seref (Mendes), assassin Plaster of Paris (Vega) and surgeon Ellen Dolan, as well as Scarlett Johansson’s sadistic scientist Silken Floss, the Spirit is also something of a sucker for the ladies, but the campy humour seems ill at ease compared to recent superhero fare such as The Dark Knight. The structure of the script also means that by the time the Spirit’s origins are revealed, and the anticlimactic conclusion rolls into sight, most viewers won’t care. Lionsgate has treated The Spirit better than it deserves on Blu-ray, most notably with the inclusion of a 7.1 lossless high-definition soundtrack. The accompanying audio excels at adding an atmospheric layer to Central City, and exhibits particularly impressive dynamics during confrontations with the Octopus – and meaty effects to go with the over-the-top fisticuffs. The film’s noir style works well on Blu-ray, with flashes of colour such as the Spirit’s blood-red tie breaking up the deliberately crisp, comic-style black and white lines. The AVC transfer needs strong blacks and delivers, but you sense that the way the visuals have been constructed is why detail is generally lacking, with the live-action/digital hybrid looking flat throughout; actors look like cut outs in the daytime scenes. Again, supplemental material is better than you’d expect for a film of this quality, and Lionsgate should be commended for including all of the extras in HD. A rough, semi-animated storyboard for an alternate ending featuring the voices of Gabriel Macht and Samuel L Jackson is of limited interest, but an interview in which Miller discusses his background and work, and a BD-exclusive featurette on the influence of Will Eisner will delight comic book fans, standing alone in their own right.
Feature: Extras: Picture: Audio:
Director: Frank Miller
Starring: Gabriel Macht, Samuel L Jackson, Eva Mendes, Scarlett Johansson
Released: Out now