why Cranky is in pain
Reviews since 1993:   A-E     F-N      O-Z    Posters       Who We Are and Why We Do What We Do     Contact    Search the Site

Your Donations support the Site

Top Selling DVD     Books

50 Shades of Grey
Exodus Gods and Kings
Grand Budapest Hotel
Imitation Game, The
Into the Woods

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
Theory of Everything
Ride Along
We're the Millers
The Great Gatsby
The Avengers
Amazing Spider-Man
Girl w/ Dragon Tattoo
Dark Knight Trilogy
World War Z
Happy Feet 2
Iton Man 3 combo
Batman Begins
Dark Knight
Fifth Element
The Hangover
Hunger Games
James Bond 11 disc coll.
Lord of the Rings trilogy
Mission Impossible GP
Sherlock Holmes AGOS
Singing in the Rain
Snow White Huntsman
Star Trek Into Darkness combo
Star Wars Saga
21 Jump Street
Ultimate Matrix coll
X-Men First Class
X-Men Trilogy
X-Men Wolverine

 BLU-Ray for Family DVDs 
Alice in Wonderland (2010)
A Bug's Life
Chronicles of Narnia set
Harry Potter 1-8 collection
Iron Man 2 combo
Kung Fu Panda
Lord of the Rings Trilogy Pinocchio
Pirates of Caribbean trilogy
Pixar short films
Shrek the Whole Story
Sleeping Beauty
The Smurfs
Snow White & 7 Dwarfs
Star Trek motion pictures set
Star Trek TNG Season One
Star Wars Saga (1-6)
Toy Story combo
Toy Story 2 combo
Toy Story 3 combo
Wall-E SE


Search engine by FreeFind
Click to add search to YOUR web site!
click to search site

Alice in Wonderland
Beauty and the Beast
Kung Fu Panda
The Lion King
Mary Poppins 45th LE
Princess Mononoke
Shrek the Whole Story
Simpsons Movie
Spider-Man Trilogy
Spirited Away
Star Trek movies set
Star Trek TOS (TV)
ST:TNG complete tv set
Star Wars Trilogy (1-3)
Star Wars Trilogy (4-6)
Toy Story DVD combo
Toy Story 2 DVD combo
Toy Story 3 DVD combo
Wallace and Gromit
Wall-E SE

Buy Movie collectibles
TV/Movie Collectibles

movie review query engine

NY film critics online

Privacy Policy

 spawn poster
click for full sized poster


Starring John Leguizamo, Michael Jai White, Martin Sheen
Screenplay by Alan McElroy
based on the comic book by Todd McFarlane
Directed by Mark Dippé
website: www.spawn-themovie.com/

IN SHORT: 11 year old boys are gonna go berserk.

Everybody else is going to sit there, numb, as a very complicated comic book story is crammed into 90 minutes of celluloid. Screenwriter Alan McElroy has the right idea, allowing narration to compliment an opening montage in which the characters and situation -- the coming war between Heaven and Hell, and the devil Malebolgia's need for a leader of his Army of Armageddon -- are all laid out.

Ah, who am I kidding? The thing was terrible. Almost laughable (and Cranky is an avid comic book reader and collector, so I'm predisposed to liking this thing). Let me tell you a story . . .

It seems like only yesterday; teen Cranky sitting with his friends, waiting to have the beejeezus scared out of them at a showing of The Exorcist. In the back of the theater some girl starts laughing when Linda Blair cuts her first devil-tooth. From that point, The Exorcist was a comedy -- and a pretty funny one at that.

Anyone laughing at the opening has doomed Spawn from the start. Which is not to say it isn't deliberately funny, 'cuz it has its moments.

It doesn't matter what I say, 'cuz every boy kidlet from 8 to 15 or so is going to flock to Spawn. They already know more of the background of the characters than the film can present. They'll catch the reference to the Phlebiac Brothers, or the walk through cameo by Angela the Huntress . . .

Oh wait, you don't know what I'm talking about.

Al Simmons (Michael Jai White), a one man killing machine for the secretive government agency A-6, is murdered -- burned and blown up -- by his commander, Jason Wynn (Martin Sheen) and his leather clad lackey Jessica Priest (Melinda Clarke). He makes a pact with the aforementioned Malebolgia, the ruler of the Eighth Level of Hell, to lead the Army of Armageddon in battle. For Al's part, he gets to return to earth so that he can see his wife, Wanda (Theresa Russell) and revenge his murder by killing Wynn.

Except that he has no place to return to. It's five years later, Al is still burned to a crisp, and Wanda has married his best friend Terry (D.B. Sweeney) and has a daughter by him.

Now living among the homeless in a back alley by an abandoned church, Spawn is approached by two potential mentors. One is a 500 year old Saxony warrior named Cogliostro (Nicol Williamson) who seeks to turn the young hellspawn into a warrior for good. The other is a Clown (a truly enjoyable performance by John Leguizamo) whose job it is to ensure the killing of Wynn, thus triggering the release of a biological weapon that will destroy earth and jumpstart Armageddon. Failing that, Clown turns into a 13 foot tall demon called Violator who seeks to cut Spawn's head off, sending the pieces of his necroplasmic body back to Hell.

Too much story. Too little time.

Michael Jai White growls and barks. Martin Sheen overacts in true comic book story mode. Melinda Clarke looks great in leather and bodice, also in true comic book story mode. John Leguizamo, on the other hand, delivers a great performance, one that you can laugh at while anticipating the bullets and hellfire to come. They come in copius quantity, too. Especially the hellfire.

Like I said, 11 year olds are going to go berserk.

21 effects companies, helmed by the always impressive ILM put together the fire and brimstone and living costume and cape effects. Everything works, save the battle scenes between Violator and Spawn, which looks like a monster whacking around a doll. Director Mark Dippé pieces the movie together like a comic book, with narration or flashbacks or cinematic wipes calling attention to each transition. Like a comic, which goes month to month planting bits of story, characters flit through Spawn who won't be seen again until Spawn 2. And there will be Spawn 2, for the battle between Heaven and Hell is neverending. Next up, Spawn versus Angela the Huntress, or one of the other Phlebiac Brothers mentined by name.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Spawn, he would have paid...

Hell if I know. It's somewhere around $4

The kidlets are going to eat it up again and again and again.

Click to buy films starring John Leguizamo
Click to buy films starring Michael Jai White
Click to buy films starring Martin Sheen

The Cranky Critic® is a Registered Trademark of, and his website is Copyright © 1995  -  2016   by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.