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movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Spawn

Starring: Michael Jai White, John Leguizamo
Director: Mark Dippe
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 97 Minutes
Release Date: August 1997
Genres: Action, Sci-Fi/Fantasy

*Also starring: Martin Sheen, Theresa Randle, Nicol Williamson, D.B. Sweeney

Review by Walter Frith
2 stars out of 4

Some would accuse the makers of 'Spawn' of being creatively empty but that would be unfair because this movie set out to be exactly what the final product has become and that is a live action comic book. Based on the creation by Todd McFarlane, 'Spawn' is the story of a government assassin (Michael Jai White) who dies and goes to the thresholds of Hell and makes a deal with Satan concerning his return to Earth to participate in creating Armageddon where the conflict between Heaven and Hell will ultimately be decided. White makes the deal because he is promised re-united companionship with the wife he left behind at the time of his death on Earth.

John Leguizamo portrays Clown, a Devil's disciple sent by Satan to make sure Spawn carries out his duty for the unspeakable forces of evil. Clown maintains an Earthly liaison with a government agent (Martin Sheen) who is bent on bringing biological warfare to anyone on Earth who will not follow in his quest for power. What the forces of evil don't realize is that Spawn receives visits from an English knight who died 500 years ago on Earth and works to save Spawn's soul for redemption.

There are a lot of ingredients that went into this production and perhaps the most distinguished compliment that anyone can pay this movie is to call it technically efficient and a movie with extraordinary vision. It shows us things that will undoubtedly haunt us and has perhaps the darkest look I've ever seen in a motion picture. As far as the writing is concerned, the characters are good but the story is a shallow one at best. Its story is overwhelmed by special effects and a thundering music score but unlike 'Batman and Robin', 'Spawn' is a story about a crime fighting hero that certainly has many more colourful characters that audiences will remember long after they leave the theatre.

John Leguizamo puts a frightfully silly style of improvisation on his character which doesn't always work but it is genuine to a certain degree in keeping with Clown's personality and Michael Jai White is perfect as the film's title character.

This movie is for adults and young people about 14 and over and may cause nightmares for young children. Would I want to see 'Spawn' again? No, but I was impressed at the technical aspects of the film which for me were experimentation rather than genuine filmmaking. It's fast food rather than a home cooked meal.

Copyright 1997 Walter Frith

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