Spawn 1997 Movie Scene Michael Jai White as Al Simmons AKA Spawn standing in the rain in the graveyard

Spawn [1997]

When I first watched Spawn, I was relatively young and it made a hell of an impression on me. It was visually stunning, featuring that combination of zany and menacing that I felt was deeply appealing. Since then, I have seen it a couple of times and the special effects did age a bit, however, this also presented an opportunity to concentrate on some other elements, because the visuals were so overwhelming that they overloaded your attention span. Despite the PG-13 rating, it looks nasty and grotesque, making me think how the fuck did they get that rating.

Based on a comic book, the crew that worked on Spawn was a pretty strange bunch that worked on some of the most profitable blockbusters in recent years. So they definitely knew what they were doing. Especially when compared to some of the movies from the same decade like The Phantom and Steel. Spawn feels like a twisted work of art. Like something that wasn’t supposed to happen in this heavily structured and predictable world. I think I have talked enough about special effects and the visuals, but what about the story?

Al Simmons is one bad motherfucker. A member of the special Black Ops team A6 and a very skilled assassin. His latest mission takes him to North Korea and a factory producing biochemical weapons. Al thinks that this is another slam and dunk case, not knowing that his boss Jason Wynn will soon order his murder. Al is shot, burned, and left for dead. Soon he finds himself in hell, where Malebolgia, the head honcho, offers him a deal: If Al accepts to lead the army of Hell, he can return to Earth. He takes the deal…

Even the story sounds really cool, doesn’t it? Featuring standard-issue elements like government corruption, betrayal, and love, there are also those spicy motives like Hell, demons, an army of hell, and many others. However, Spawn struggles to create a coherent and believable story. This is also the movie’s biggest flaw, the lack of that huge motivation and drives towards something bigger. This way we are just waiting to see the next super cool shot. There are just so many storylines, sub-plots, and interesting characters that we are skimming through them in order to get to the end.

Wesley Snipes, Cuba Gooding Jr. Snoop Dogg, Tony Todd, Allen Payne, Denzel Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, Ving Rhames, Joe Manganiello, LL Cool J, and Will Smith were considered for the role of Al Simmons, but Michael Jai White got it and he fucking nailed it. This movie propelled his career and if you want to continue with his movies, I strongly recommend his 2009 action/comedy masterpiece, Black Dynamite. And who would Spawn be without Violator, an evil-looking obese clown played masterfully by John Leguizamo. To this day I remember his jarring and intense performance. Finally, I also have to mention the mighty soundtrack featuring artists such as Slayer, Prodigy, Filter, The Crystal Method, and others.

Director: Mark A.Z. Dippé

Writers: Todd McFarlane, Alan B. McElroy, Mark A.Z. Dippé

Cast: Michael Jai White, John Leguizamo, Martin Sheen

Fun Facts: John Leguizamo ate live maggots on pizza for this film.


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