Howdy people of the north, south, east and west, and welcome to Day #25 of Month of Superhero Film Reviews 2! During this month I’ll be reviewing of some of the best, average and worst comic book adapted films. Now we’re really heading into the bad side of superhero films as I’ll be talking about Spawn.
Spawn is one of those characters I’ve heard SO much about since probably the early 2000’s from my uncle, TV, online film critics, fans and superhero-related film sites. He’s a big deal and I’ve always been curious to see if the first live-action film was as bad as people made it out to be.
The story can be summed up as the following:
“An assassin named Al Simmons is double-crossed and murdered by his evil boss Jason Wynn. Al makes a deal with the devil and returns to earth as Spawn to see his wife. He is ordered by the devil’s minion, The Clown, to kill Wynn. Wynn has made a deal with the clown too and is supposed to destroy the world with a deadly virus that will help start Armageddon and allow Hell to attack Heaven. Spawn must choose between Good & Evil.”
The story in this film for a while was just lame, but then by the end I was left even more unimpressed than before. This tale of revenge, good and evil and deception could have been great, but it’s too convoluted, messy and uneven for its own good. This film also tries way too hard to be cool, dramatic and dark, but it fails at all three because of the undeveloped and one-dimensional characters, cliché dialogue, familiar plot points you can see coming a mile away and emotional moments that don’t feel earned. Plus there is a lot of humour and adult references in this film, but rather than feeling funny or impressive, it’s just sad and in bad taste. Also this film goes on for too long, some shots linger for a few seconds longer than they should and there is a point towards the end where the film should have been over, but NOPE! It just had to keep going for a few more minutes and keep this painful experience going a little longer. 😦
Now let’s talk about the cast. I’m not gonna lie, everyone in this film is terrible. Some performances aren’t as bad as other but everyone tends to act like they’re doing their best to be bad and over-the-top. Michael Jai White as Al Simmons/Spawn is the first offender, you’re meant to like him but he has no redeeming qualities, he’s not cool, funny, relatable or tragic, he’s just a guy with anger issues and occasionally shows emotions. Martin Sheen doesn’t fare any better as Jason Wynn, this guy is the most generic bad guy ever, and he makes it no secret to anyone. But the worst person in this film is clearly John Leguizamo as Clown/Violator. I thought Leguizamo was bad in The Super Mario Bros. Movie, but this is on a whole new level of bad. This character never shuts up, he’s always making some pop culture reference or cracking jokes or farting or being crude and indecent in general. I will not lie, sometimes I did smile because he was entertaining, but in general Leguizamo was just insufferable. Nicol Williamson was probably the least offensive as Cogliostro, though he only showed up when the plot demanded it which made him seem pretty useless. Theresa Randle was okay at first as Wanda Blake Simmons-Fitzgerald, but even she gets her time in the sun to be terrible. D. B. Sweeney was fine as Terry Fitzgerald, Melinda Clarke looked pretty good but was very forgettable in leather as Jessica Priest and Frank Welker did a good job as the voice of Malebolgia, though al I could think of was Dr. Claw from Inspector Gadget. 😛
Now let’s talk about the presentation. Visually the film is a pretty bad, there are some interesting moments but most of the film is not nice to look at. The costume design for Spawn when he’s fully armoured up is nice, but it only looks good in certain shots, most times it looks really rubbery and odd. I also think that this film inspired Spider-Man 3‘s handling of Venom as Spawn constantly feels the need to show his face and not be in the full costume that fans want to see him in. As for the CGI it’s messy, I know it was the late 90’s but some of those special effects looked horrible, so blurry, lacking in detail and it looked like some of it belonged on TV or one of those B-movies from the Sy-Fy channel. Oh and the fight sequences in hell, what the fuck man? That was some of the most poorly framed, incoherent and unimpressive action I had ever witnessed. As for the soundtrack, Graeme Revell’s film score isn’t that impressive and doesn’t do well to help elevate the film and instead makes it sound worse with the soundtrack trying to sound cool when in fact it doesn’t.
And lastly how does it compare to the comics? I’ve never read the comics so I can’t comment on this section.
So to conclude Spawn is not just a bad film it is a terrible one. This film offends me more so than some of the previous films I’ve watched because of the potential it had to be good but it ultimately wasted its opportunities and created a soulless, unoriginal and silly film which was such a chore to watch. This is another case of a film being released before the right time, had Spawn been made post Batman Begins, I think the film would have been better off (you know if they changed everyone involved in making this one). I hope that in the right hands a reboot can be crafted with today’s kind of care towards the superhero genre because Spawn needs to be done justice.
That’s 25 reviews done, only 5 more to go. So have you seen Spawn and if so what are your thoughts on it? Drop me a comment and let me know your thoughts yo! Come back tomorrow and I’ll have a new film review online, until then peace out!