starring John Leguizamo, Michael Jai White and Martin Sheen
screenplay by Alan McElroy
directed by Mark A.Z. Dippe
Based on a book by Todd McFarlane, Spawn is another comic book come to the big screen, like other films including the likes of The Jetsons, Superman, The Flintstones, Richie Rich, and Batman. I hate those films.
Like the original Batman movie, starring Michael Keaton, and also like The X-Files TV series, Spawn is overwhelmingly dark. All the scenes are night scenes, almost all featuring heavy rain. Watching it, I felt like a swimmer coming out of the sea after crossing the English Channel, covered with the slimy, protective grease the long-distance open-ocean swimmers use to insulate their bodies.
A movie about superheroes and, of course, super villains, Spawn is a mutated soldier named Al Simmons from a secretive US. government anti-terrorist unit called A-6, headed by power-mad megalomaniac Jason Win (played by Martin Sheen). It’s refreshing and good to see Sheen, father of Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez, play an arch-bad buy for a change. He usually plays average American Joes struggling with the problems of contemporary family life.
Jason Win is in league with the Devil to use a Heat 16 virus bomb to exterminate the Earth’s population and become dictator of the world. But the Devil and Jason need Spawn to join with them and lead the Armies of Darkness.
Spawn becomes the hero, though, by remembering his true identity as good-guy Al Simmons, and resisting demonic seduction.
The film’s narrator consistently produces heavy-sounding remarks like, “The war between heaven and hell depends on the choices we make, and those choices require sacrifice. That’s the test.” It sounds like something from Judgment at Nuremberg.
All through the movie, quotations like this crop up and I kept thinking that screenwriter Alan McElroy played far too much Dungeons and Dragons when he was in high school, probably in the 1980s. If it was a better movie such talk might even be tolerable, but as it is it is just boring. The script unsuccessfully tries to be something great. But to no avail. Unless you are hard up for something to watch, you can give Spawn a miss.