The Spirit: Anyone who loves comics will tell you Frank Miller is a visionary. Yes, he is but is he a filmmaker? A co-directing credit on Sin City is not enough to convince me - not when Robert Rodriguez is your backup. Sin City may be one of the greatest comic adaptations but not all comics can make the transition. The Spirit is a beloved comic by another visionary, Will Eisner, Miller's mentor in many ways. By virtue of having its origins in the 1940s, a lot about the character is outdated. Miller figured that by keeping what he loved about Eisner's stuff and adding some Sin City aesthetics, he could make a watchable film. Unfortunately, this movie will be a hit only with those who love the 1960s Batman and The Green Hornet - it wears over-the-top like a morning jacket and campiness like a badge of honour. Was it a wasted effort? Not if it taught Miller that he has a lot to learn about filmmaking. Is it something that would make Eisner roll over in his grave? Not really but it is a hollow attempt and the great man deserves so much better.
Punisher: War Zone: The good news is that it is the best of the three attempts at bringing The Punisher comic book to life. The bad news is that a comic come to life can sometimes lose something in the translation and some cheesiness and crazy action can creep in as well as shock factors that do not work. The violence is for the first time Punisher worthy and Ray Stevenson is Frank Castle - no two ways about it. Unfortunately, director Lexi Alexander clearly chose to not portray the material in a serious vein and she plays everything straight only in a comic fantasy sense. It just felt lacking in the writing and those finishing touches that bring disparate elements together in a eclectic mix of comic book entertainment. Feels like a missed chance!
Why aren't these two called turkeys? Because they aren't - they are weird, outrageous almost-okay below-par films that might be cult classics in the making. They show that comics on film can be approached in so many different ways. And without so many different ways of looking at films, where's the fun?