Spawn (1997) Movie Review: “Underrated” is What Idiots Say About this Movie

Drinking Game

Take a Drink: any time a dated 90s metal song plays

Take a Drink: for endless, terrible CGI.

Drink a Shot: whenever John Leguizamo’s “Clown” is on screen.  And pray to god he someday stops trying to be funny.

Community Review


Movie Review

By: Oberst Von Berauscht (Six Pack) –

Al Simmons (Michael Jai White) is a Special Forces assassin who is betrayed by his commander Jason Wynn (Martin Sheen) and dies on an operation in North Korea.  Sent to Hell, he promises to lead Hell’s armies in return for being allowed to be with his wife again.  Assigned a handler named “Clown” (John Leguizamo), the badly scarred Simmons is re-dubbed “Spawn” and given supernatural armor and healing powers.  But rather than fight for Hell, Spawn goes rogue and begins working for himself.  At some point he had to make a decision, whether to join evil or fight for good.

A Toast

The 1990s was a terrible time for superhero movies.  Spawn tries to be an epic yarn about Hell redemption, and winds up being a hopelessly dated relic of trends that were popular at the time the film was made.  The only redeeming trait of the film is the comic value of watching it now, and wondering why the makers thought any of this would be a good idea.

And yes, this is John Leguizamo...

And yes, this is John Leguizamo…

Beer Two

The first thing anyone notices with the film is the dated visual effects.  Spawn  came out at the time when use of heavy CGI effects was rare, due to the technology being in its infancy.  Even by those desperately low standards though, Spawn looks  horrific.  As an example, take “Malebolgia” the films main villian, a demonic creature of hell who the animators apparently forgot to work on, because when he talks, his mouth hangs open without any articulation.


This might as well be an animated Gif, because the result would be the same…

Beer Three

Not being familiar with the comic, I can speak only to the movie in respect to Spawn’s powers, which appear to be “whatever is convenient for the plot”.  This is most obviously evidenced at the end of the film, where Spawn is able to perform complex heart surgery, fire yellow lasers out of his eyes in random directions to kill thousands of demons, and launch himself out of hell in a green-fart rocket.

Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 11.31.37 AM

Thought I was exaggerating?

Beer Four

Michael Jai White’s performance is roughly equivalent to Christian Bale’s Batman.  In that once he dons the uniform of a superhero, his only attempt at acting is in speaking gruffly and mugging for the camera. White was of course in The Dark Knight, so maybe he passed this advice on to Bale? Come to think of it, perhaps this is some kind of bad acting virus that only spreads to superhero actors? One whose only cure is to pass it on to another host (It Follows style). It can’t be a coincidence that right after The Dark Knight White would go on to star in his career-best lead performance.


Michael Jai White (above) presumably cured…

Beer Five

This is director Mark A.Z. Dippé’s only theatrical feature to date.  A quick glimpse at his filmography on IMDB finds that the vast majority of credits to his name are for visual effects and animation direction.  The few films he has directed are the kind of direct to video/streaming releases that are the textbook definition of “low standards”

As to his work in Spawn, the directorial style seems to be lack of direction.  Hollywood cliché after cliché is paraded in front of the camera in clumsily blocked action sequences with droning and nonsensical narration.

Beer Six

Jesus tap-dancing H. Christ, will John Leguizamo shut up? I genuinely enjoy him as an actor at times, but when he “tries” to be funny it ends up a crime against humanity. Sadly, this was the vast majority of his roles in the 1990s.


This movie gave my funny-bone cancer.


You know the one; that cousin or close friend who swears by this movie.  They’re wrong.

Six Pack

About Oberst von Berauscht

Oberst Von Berauscht once retained the services of a Gypsy to imbue in him the ability to accurately describe the artistic qualities of a film up to seven decimal points. To maintain this unique skill, he must feast on the blood of a virgin every Harvest Moon, or failing that (and he usually does), he can also make a dog do that thing they do where they twist their heads slightly (you know, when they're confused about something) at least a few times a week. I've gotten way off track here... The point is, Oberst is one of the website's founders, so... yeah

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