Finally, a comic book movie that gets it right. Now, I've never been
a big fan of the comic book incarnation of Spawn. Not because I didn't
like the character, he just came along after I'd put aside comics for
the most part. So, this movie was really my introduction to him and what
an introduction it was.
Starring: Michael Jai White, Martin Sheen,
and John Leguizamo
Al Simmons (Michael Jai White) is a government assassin, working for
a division known simply as A-6. He hunts and kills international criminals
for Jason Wynn (Martin Sheen), the head of A-6. Over the years, it seems
that Simmons has developed a conscience and decides that he no longer
wants to kill as a profession. Wynn, who has secretly agreed with the
devil to provide a suitable candidate to lead Satan's army in exchange
for world domination, chides Simmons to take one final mission -- a mission
that proves fatal to Simmons.
Simmons is sent to Hell, where he strikes a deal with the devil to be
allowed to return to Earth to see his wife, Wanda (Theresa Randle). Satan
agrees, but Simmons must lead the forces of darkness on the assault on
the gates of Heaven.
A demon known as Clown (John Leguizamo) serves as Satan's emissary. He
simultaneously gets Wynn to do the devil's bidding and gets Simmons --
now hideously burned and dubbed Hell Spawn (Spawn for short) -- ready
for his tenure as the leader of Armageddon's charge. Clown's exterior
hides a much more hideous incarnation, known as Violator, which can emerge
if need be.
Spawn vows revenge on Wynn for setting him up, but a former assassin
named Cogliostro (Nicol Williamson), who fights for good, tries to get
Spawn to resist the urges of violent retribution and fight on behalf of
the people of Earth. Will Spawn turn and annhiliate those that made him
die? Will he turn his powers to defend the Earth against Wynn and Clown's
plan for Armageddon?
Thankfully, Spawn's creator, Todd McFarlane, turned his project over
to people who cared about the final product and decided not to water it
down. This movie was suprisingly adult and intelligent while still remaining
a step away from being too serious. It was great fun and thoroughly exciting
The look of the film was impressive as well. Even the closing credits
were unique. It's obvious that a lot of effort was made to keep the film
from looking cheesy. The subject matter deserved a serious undertone and
the effects and visuals deliver. So, when the script calls for a little
humor, it doesn't end up falling flat on its face (ie. the Batman series).
This movie is what the Batman movies should have been: less concerned
with being politically correct and more concerned with the hero than the
villains. But, I guess when the hero is as interesting as Spawn is, that
isn't a problem.
But, Spawn isn't a perfect movie. The story is convoluted and requires
Cogliostro's character to narrate some of the major plot points for clarity's
sake. Not a major problem, but a problem nonetheless. The performances
of Michael Jai White and John Leguizamo more than make up for any minor
flaws in the film. Leguizamo, in particular, is a lot of fun to watch
as he seems to be thoroughly enjoying himself as Clown.
So, while I can't say how true to the comic Spawn is, I can say that
I really enjoyed the movie version. If you like this kind of thing, you'll
enjoy the hell out of yourself. (Sorry, I couldn't resist.)
Trivia: Spawn creator Todd McFarlane can be seen as a bum in the movie. (Source: The
Internet Movie Database)