Spawn [Blu-ray] (1997)

Actors: John Leguizamo, Michael Jai White, Martin Sheen
Format: Director's Cut, NTSC, Widescreen
Language: English
Region: All Regions
Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
Number of discs: 1
Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: Warner Home Video
DVD Release Date: July 10, 2012
Run Time: 96 minutes



Some movies get better with time. Like fine wines, they mature with age; sometimes they get better because modern movies have gotten worse. Spawn isn’t one of those movies . . .

In fact Spawn was pretty much vinegar to start with, and is actually worse today than one remembers it to be as its release on Blu-ray this month reminds one.

Based on the hugely popular Spawn comics it tells the story of a U.S. government assassin coming back from Hell because the Devil wants him to lead his army in the upcoming Armageddon . . . or something like that. Spawn was supposed to be a dark and moody comic adap, but the movie somehow latched onto the comics’ worst aspects (cute kid sidekicks! a pet dog! a gratingly unfunny clown villain!) and the end result is the sort of movie that makes you want to kill yourself.

Right from the start its sheer amateurishness gets you down. The movie makes amateur mistakes by dumping huge amounts of exposition in the audience’s laps. There is a voice-over . . . always a bad sign! One can see that it is director Mark A.Z. Dippe’s debut as a director. The movie has no flow. Characters just pitch up in scenes for no logical reason and things just happen for no apparent reason.

Throw in some lousy acting and crummy dialogue and you have one of the all-time worst comic book movies along with Batman & Robin, Superman IV and Catwoman. Most unforgivable of all though is the cheap CGI special effects which were crap even by the standards of the late 1990s. It is unforgivable because Dippe worked as a special effects guy all his life, but try to sit through those crap-looking scenes set in Hell featuring the Devil without any face palming . . .

THE DISC: Of the batch of movies released on Blu-ray for the first time this week by Warner Video (the others include Brainstorm, Outland and Altered States) it is ironic that the crappiest movie of them all (Spawn) would in fact have the most special features. (It’s not that big a feat considering that the other movies mentioned here have practically zero special features!)

The special features include a commentary featuring creator Todd MacFarlane, director Mark Dieppe, producer Clint Goldman and visual effects supervisor Steve “Spaz” Williams; an interview with Todd McFarlane, a behind-the-scenes Making of Spawn feauterette, a Spawn sketch gallery with over 200 original concept illustrations, scene-to-storyboard comparisons; original Todd McFarlane sketches; Filter & the Crystal music video and the original theatrical trailer. All of the special features are pretty much ported straight over from the DVD release.

WORTH IT? No. This 1997 Spawn movie pretty much destroyed any hopes of Spawn becoming a superhero movie franchise. Director Dieppe went on to work on TV movies and made-for-DVD flicks such as The Reef 2. As of late Spawn creator Todd McFarlane has been trying to interest Hollywood in rebooting the character, especially now that superhero comics are so huge with The Avengers and the like. One has to wonder though. The comic book Spawn got a rotten deal, sure, but one also suspects that perhaps Spawn shouldn’t be made into a live action movie at all and should stay on the printed page.

RECOMMENDATION: Some movies are so bad they are good. Others are so bad that you want to jump out of the window to stop the suffering. Spawn is the sort of movie that induces audiences to suicide. It’s that bad.



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