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Spawn is a superhero movie dark, edgy, etc. that is better known for its special effects than its acting or storytelling — never a good sign.

Synopsis of Spawn

Al Simmons (Michael Jai White) is an agent of A-6 (an Expy of the CIA), who murders in the name of his country until he’s betrayed by his superior officer Jason Wynn (Martin Sheen) and murdered burned to death by fellow agent Jessica Priest (Melinda Clarke). He’s promptly sent to Hell for his sins, where he makes a deal with the Devil (a puppet voiced by Frank Welker) in exchange for a promise to lead Hell’s armies in battle, he’s returned to life as Spawn, and given supernatural abilities to get revenge on his murderers. He effectively has 2 angels on his shoulder Cogliostro (Nicol Williamson), another former recruit of Hell who’s turned from evil to good, and The Violator (John Leguizamo), a demon disguised as a clown, who delights in tormenting Al while trying to goad him to murder his murderers and unleash Hell on Earth.

Review of Spawn

Spawn DVD cover

Let’s talk about the positive aspects of the movie Spawn first the make-up of the burnt Al Simmons is good and is the CGI effects of Spawn’s flowing cape, the generating of ectoplasmic chains and other weapons fromSpawn’ss body, etc. When the movie has characters in Hell itself (both in flashback and at the end of the movie) it looks terrible.  The Devil (named Malebolgia here) is, literally, a puppet. A very bad, unrealistic puppet. The Hell scenes look less believable than a 1990s computer games videos.

The acting apart from John Leguizamo, who revels in his character as an obnoxious, dislikable character is dull and wooden. Martin Sheen is especially bad, as though he phoned in the entire performance. There are cliches a-plenty, as well.  For example, Jessica Priest, who’s supposed to be a highly capable assassin and general threat, is dressed in tight leather with plenty of cleavage, with a Wonderbra thrown in for good measure.

In short, although I love monster movies, and superhero movies as well, Spawn is a poor implementation of both genres, and I don’t recommend it. There’s also plenty of language warnings, and gory violence — lots of both, neither of which make a film edgy or worth watching.

Movie quotes from Spawn

Jason Wynn: You don’t quit us, son. We are not the U.S. Postal Service.

Al Simmons: You son of a bitch. You knew what was going in all along.
Jason Wynn: I do believe he’s catching on.
[Jessica hoses Al down with flammable liquid]
Jason Wynn: Enjoy your retirement, old friend. Oh, and by the way, don’t worry about Wanda. I’ll take good care of her.
Al Simmons: You touch her, and you’re a dead man.
Jason Wynn: You’re the dead man.
[Wynn throws cigarette on Al and he catches on fire]
Jason Wynn: See you in hell, Al.

Clown: I say destroy the cosmos, ask questions later.

Clown: Ooh. Burnt man walkin’.

Spawn: Just get me to a hospital.
Clown: A hospital? Have you looked in a mirror lately, burnt man walking? Even the entire cast of E.R. couldn’t put you back together again.

Clown: In the name of the people and things of Hell, I dub thee Spawn, general of Hells armies. Arise, Your Crispness! Arise, Duke of Deep-Fried! Sultan of Sizzling! Emir of Ooey-Gooey!

Clown: [imitating Jimmy Stewart] Uh, well, well, every time someone farts, a demon gets his wings. [farts twice] Oops, twins.

Clown: I love the smell of burning asphalt in the morning.

Clown: You’re dead. D-E-D. Dead.

Clown: [as Wanda] You pansy bacon crisp!

[after defeating the Clown]
Spawn: Give my regards to your boss. Tell him he’s next.

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