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Monday, November 11, 2013

Will Eisner's 'The Spirit' DVD Release: Best Made-for-TV Super Hero Movie Ever

The Spirit
Of the handful of failed TV pilots that Warner Archive released on DVD a few weeks ago, the fact that the 1987 made-for-TV-movie "The Spirit" jumped the shark rather than the gap between a one-shot outing and a weekly series is the biggest surprise. 

This terrific incarnation of that Will Eisner creation has the wonderfully bright cartoon look and sensibility of the '60s "Batman" series, the best Bon Jovi rockin' style soundtrack this side of the "Street Hawk" series from two years earlier, and nice elements of film noir. This is not to mention having Sam Jones of the 1980 "Flash Gordon" film doing a great job in the titular role.

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, illustrates these elements very well.
Jone is joined by a dream TV-movie cast in the form of "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's" Nana Visitor as a city hall official and daughter of a police commissioner played by "Quincy. M.E.'s" Garry Walberg. Visitor's Ellen Dolan doubles as The Spirit's Lois Lane.

"The Nanny's" Daniel Davis  plays an officious museum curator, and the wonderfully crusty character actor Philip Baker Hall has a small but pivotal role as the mentor of police officer Denny Colt, who transforms into The Spirit early in the film.

The origin story that the film conveys is that Colt is a small-town cop whose investigation brings him to the big city; he is soon shot and left for dead only to recover and assume his superhero identity.

Much of the unintentional humor relates to The Spirit possessing only average intelligence, slightly above average strength and fighting skill, and lacking any cool tech whatsoever. This relates to a great unintentionally hilarious scene in which a single blow from a vase knocks The Spirit to the floor.

Similar humor relates to the "Superman Syndrome" in that Colt merely donning a Lone Ranger style mask and even still wearing the distinctive electric blue suit that he wore before being shot prevents people who know Colt from recognizing him. 

The numerous enormous plot holes also contribute to the fun of the series; disclosing even one of them would ruin the intense entertainment related to them.

The bottom line is that the pervasive incredible tongue-in-cheek style of "The Spirit" works very well regarding the spirit of this movie, which is at least as good as "The Flash" television series from the same era.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "The Spirit" is welcome to email me; you can also follow me on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.