H D - S E N S E I

A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze


The Spirit [Blu-ray]


(Frank Miller, 2008)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: LionsGate

Video: Lionsgate


Region: 'A'

Runtime: 1:42:36.984

Disc Size: 43,527,648,303 bytes

Feature Size: 30,014,416,896 bytes

Total Bitrate: 39.00 Mbps

Chapters: 16

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: April 14th, 2009



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 4748 kbps 7.1 / 48 kHz / 4748 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio French 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / Dolby Surround



English, English (SDH), English, Spanish, none



Audio commentary by Frank Miller and Deborah Del Prete

“Green World” featurette – a look at the technical wizardry behind the making of the film (22:53 in HD!)
“Miller on Miller” featurette – a look at the artistry of Frank Miller (15:57 in HD!)
“History Repeats” featurette – an in-depth look at the origin of The Spirit as well as Will Eisner’s influence and vision in the comic book world (BD Exclusive) (15:27 in HD!)
Alternate storyboard ending with voiceovers by Samuel L. Jackson and Gabriel Macht
MoLog™ - Movie Blog network connected community and interactive movie blog tool set
Theatrical trailer
Digital Copy of the film on Disc 2





Description: Above shadowy, crime-infested streets a masked avenger watches. Denny Colt (Gabriel Macht) was one of Central City’s finest cops until a gangster’s bullet ended his life. Now Fate has brought him back from the beyond as The Spirit, a street-hardened hero who faces off against seductive foes like the voluptuous Sand Saref (Eva Mendes) and the alluring Silken Floss (Scarlett Johansson). Then, of course, there’s his evil archenemy, The Octopus (Samuel L. Jackson), with a mission to wipe out Spirit’s beloved city as he pursues his own version of immortality in this graphic action-thriller.



The Film:

It's been too long since we've had a proper comic book superhero on the screen. There's been enough of them running around and bashing up the bad guys in a CGI-enhanced fashion, that's for sure. But it's hard to look at the recent cinematic incarnations of Tony Stark and Bruce Wayne and call them "superheroes," even if they keep their identities secret and have nifty outfits. "Billionaire action figures" would be more appropriate, what with all their high-priced gadgetry and super-duper hideouts. Whatever happened to the caped heroes who kept an eye on the city's dark alleys and took out the bad guys with nothing more than a sock to the jaw?

Frank Miller's jazzy The Spirit answers that question with a cocky wink and a grin. The streets of Central City are almost always dark and threatening, but they're watched over by a guardian who used to be a cop named Denny Colt (a wonderfully deadpan Gabriel Macht). One near-death experience later and Colt has dug himself out of his own grave. He then decides to serve the city as a masked avenger known as The Spirit, whose only weapons are his fists and a newfound ability to absorb ridiculous amounts of punishment.

There's a supervillain out there called The Octopus (played with rare operatic relish by Samuel L. Jackson) and a squad of curvaceous femme fatales (Eva Mendes, Scarlett Johansson, and Paz Vega, to name just a view of the film's many pouty-lipped vixens).

Excerpt from Chris Barsanti at Reel.com located HERE



Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

The Spirit has some heavy, almost intense, eye-candy that translated beautifully onto Blu-ray. With such intentionally heavy style it's hard to know where digital tinkering starts and direct film transfers begin.  The effects are masterful though and this may be one of the discs you showcase to friends.  After seeing it look this rich and textured it's hard to image how an, obviously weaker, SD would relate. The desaturation bubbles the contrast to produce objects as silhouettes against the barren, or rather more empty, backgrounds. It floods your visual world to such an extent that you basically submit to the 40's homage. It's really very cool. Black levels are so intense that they lean to being representational of a 'Black Hole' in space. Technically this Blu-ray is dual-layered with the feature taking up over 30 Gig and the total bitrate approaches 40 Mbps. I didn't see this theatrically but the combination of the filmmaker's vision and the high-def rendering produces an impressive and memorable presentation. In my first viewing I watched without much regard to what was happening with the characters. The image seemed to be hypnotizing me (perhaps that was Jaime King's penetrating eyes.... or possibly Eva Mendes' sculptured buttocks).
















Audio :

The DTS-HD Master 5.1 at 4748 kbps can blow out some windows. Separation is crisp and deft while Dan Newman's score (son of composer Alfred Newman!) fits like one of the Spirit's gloves. There is some demo audibles here but they are not strung together. Anyway, it made for a rewarding part of my Blu-ray presentation. I was impressed. Those keen on that aspect of the HD will enjoy the mix thoroughly. There are optional subtitles available in English (SDH and regular) and Spanish. LionsGate is almost occasionally region-locked but I have yet to reach definitive proof on this one yet. 




Extras :

The supplements appear to slightly surpass the, simultaneously released, DVD edition with a duplicated, and amusing commentary with Miller and producer Deborah Del Prete, two production featurettes - totaling about 40 minutes (both in HD!). There is a short alternate storyboard ending and trailer. “History Repeats” featurette is a Blu-ray exclusive and is described as in-depth look at the origin of The Spirit as well as Will Eisner’s influence and vision in the comic book world (also in HD!). This comes with, an untested, MoLog™ - Movie Blog network connected community and interactive movie blog tool set. You get a second disc - Digital Copy for portable device download but this probably isn't a film you want to watch on the tiny screen of your cell phone or iPod.   



Some critics disliked this rather intensely.  Although I thought it was kind of cute the style was starting to grate on me a little. I liked the representation of female characters but the plastic qualities of The Spirit take some adept performances to overcome that suspension of disbelief. I thought Gabriel Macht was perfect - Jaime King and Eva Mendes too. I just wasn't buying into the villainy of Jackson and Johansson. If you think you may like the withdrawn, inky, desaturated style, - you will probably get some enjoyment out of the movie visuals. It has both good and poor points attached. The Blu-ray is a triumph. It supports Miller vision and then some - looking absolutely dynamic in high-definition. Audio is close to reference (okay it 'is' reference) and extras garner some minor appreciation. From that point it's a recommendation - just don't enter your viewing with any pre-conceived notions (this is hard - I'll admit) as it may not run parallel to your fantasy expectations, but I still think many will like what they see. This is definitely one of those disc that should be seen in high-definition. 

Gary Tooze

April 3rd, 2009




About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 7500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be it, but film will always be my first love and I list my favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible HERE.  

Gary's Home Theatre:

Samsung HPR4272 42" Plasma HDTV
Toshiba HD-A2 HD-DVD player (firmware upgraded)

Sony BDP-S300 1080p Blu-ray Disc Player (firmware upgraded)
Sony DVP NS5ODH SD-DVD player (region-free and HDMI)

Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

Gary W. Tooze








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