It's not easy to make a thriller that's both incredibly convoluted and intensely boring, laboriously narrated yet befuddled, but Miller -- creator and co-director of Sin City -- triumphs on all counts.
Maybe if there was something going with the dialogue -- snappy Chandlerisms, say, or even just sentences that made sense -- the fussy digital artifice of The Spirit wouldn't seem so, well, dispiriting.
The Spirit is an example of what can happen to a comic book-inspired movie when the sense of style becomes so pervasive that it overwhelms everything else, including an unremarkable superhero adventure.
Scenes begin seemingly at random and end abruptly. Actors play characters at full bore. Dialogue has the crude energy of '30s Hollywood melodramas but rarely any wit or engaging subtext. All emotions are forced.
Pushing well past the point of self-parody, Miller has done Will Eisner's pioneering comicstrip no favors by drenching it in the same self-consciously neo-noir monochrome put to much more compelling use in Sin City.