Wednesday, 10 February 2010

The Miller's Tale...

What's black, white and red all over? A Frank Miller film.
I have to admit I'm not a Frank Miller fan, and while his earlier, 80s works had merit (he did help set Batman on the 'dark' path after all) his later projects have shown a self-indulgence that leaves many cold. I had the misfortune of bumping into his version of 'The Spirit' the other night. I say without any hyperbole that it's an awful film (I think it's worse than 'Batman and Robin', but I realise that's a hotly contested title), because it takes everything that makes 'The Spirit' a fun and exciting read and forces it through Miller's grim, noirish 'Sin City colour scheme sieve'. And while that works for gritty source material like his 'Sin City', it doesn't for the more light-hearted Spirit. It's weirdly dark when it shouldn't be, in terms of tone and visuals and most of the time makes no sense (why does Samuel L. Jackson's character The Octopus dress up as a Nazi at one point?). Above all, it made me wonder if that's how Frank Miller sees everything - harsh, noir-ish and gritty monochrome with dashes of blood red here and there. If so, the world must be a terrifying place when seen through his eyes...
As an aside, if anyone should have had a hand in the making of a Spirit movie it should have been (my perennial favourite, as Chris will certainly attest to) Darwyn Cooke, whose 12 issue run on 'The Spirit' really is a must read. Not only are each of the self-contained stories well-crafted, fun and often satirical, but the artwork is superb (see here, here, here, here and here to feast your eyes on it). No black and white weirdness there.