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Spawn... me a pill to forget this movie!



Lets start off nice. This movie is bad. Whoops! I slipped.

The screenplay for this film (adapted from the comic by Alan B. McElroy) is a horrible mess. Spawn didn’t have the deepest of storylines, but it was effective in the comic. Adapting this comic should have been a cinch, but it was slaughtered in the attempt to make it commercially viable and entertaining. There are nonsensical changes, too much of Clown, too little of Violator, no dramatic elements to Spawn and don’t get me started on Malebolgia.

What makes Spawn work in the comic is the fact that this is a really crappy situation. He made a rash decision out of the passionate love for his wife and now he has to deal with it. The comic has interesting elements like: Spawn can use his powers to look human. When he does he doesn’t end up looking like himself, but as a white man. Eventually he finds out that he couldn’t have a child with Wanda because he was impotent. His buddy married his wife (this is in the movie, but it doesn’t seem to matter).

There are casting blunders like D.B. Sweeney in the role of a character that was African American in the comic. Why would you do that? Martin Sheen’s performance is pretty bad and someone should have told John Leguizamo to stop with the crappy improvisations that were costing the movie money poorly spent in effects. Violator should have been creepy and funny in a sick bastard kind of way.

In a conversation with out editor John Rojas, I defended Michael Jai White saying that he did as good a job as possible given the direction and screenplay. Man, do I feel stupid after rewatching this film. To put it frankly, he sucks. To put it Sue-ly, he has one tone, angry tough guy – even when he’s supposed to be sad. Of course, even if a talented actor were in this movie it would have failed.

I can go on and on about how the direction by Mark A.Z. Dippé is poor and the writing is unforgivably bad, but why bother. Ultimately, the blame falls on Todd McFarlane. He was an executive producer on the film, had plenty of pull and fame at the time, and created the character. Once he read this script he should have shaken his head, fired Alan B. McElroy and looked for someone that knew the source material.

I remember reading an interview with McFarlane that was about how pissed he was that Violator didn’t have jagged teeth. The screenplay utterly blows and he’s worried about teeth. Smart.

Let's pretend that I'm Todd McFarlane for a moment. I write a letter to Alan B. McElroy.

"Yo, Mc-E I've read your screenplay and I think it is utterly brilliant. Since I've never produced a film before I can honestly tell you this will be the film I will produce first, maybe because I'm already monetarily invested in it... SO! You script has none of the drama that a man who has sold his soul to the devil, burned in hell for five years, comes back from the dead to find that his best friend is now married to his wife and that he couldn't have a child with her because he is impotent, but It's got a whole lot of the clown.

Clown doesn't even kill people and tear out their hearts, but he does say some stupid crap. Malebolgia never makes his visit to Spawn in the middle of an alleyway which in the comic is both eery and threatening, but there is some poor dialog. The thing that I'm concerned about, you know between falling asleep due to being utterly bored, is that there is never the mention of Violator's trademark long lower jaw. The one thing that I did really want to know about is why is there no mention of jagged teeth? Why!?! Tell me!! I must know!

PS. The one thing I do want to compliment you on is when Clown complains about farting a wet one then pulling out his underwear to show the skid marks! I was just rolling. If only we could have Spawn show up sporadically and feature more skid marks... I guess we'll have to save that for the sequel, which this masterpiece is likely to get."

...and close. OK, back to the review.

There was another interview I read a few years after this blunder was made and it was referring to a Spawn sequel. McFarlane said he turned down a 12 million dollar effects budget because he thought the movie should be more of an “I know what you did last summer” and only have Spawn sporadically throughout the film. Is the movie not called Spawn? Is Spawn a horror creature?

What we should learn from this is that we can’t expect much from a guy who wrote his comic by drawing some random pages and laying them on the floor until they make a good storyline. Pfft.

I’m always a supporter of adaptations having their original creators involved in some way, but this is one of those rare cases where not only did it not help, but may have been for the worse.

At least McFarlane’s toys, er figures, are cool.




Directed by: Mark A.Z. Dippé
Written by: Alan B. McElroy
Cast: Michael Jai White, John Leguizamo, Martin Sheen
Based on a comic book by: Todd McFarlane

Source of the Bitter: JAS

Comments, rants and other stuffs below
Que on Mon, 08/03/2009 - 8:29pm

Ah, I remember first time saw the movie which didn’t impress me too bad. Mind you I was still in my early twenties and all comic turned movies with super power hero and any CGIs could be a big deal.

Spawn was not the best shot of its kind. Terminator 2 was made in 1991. But it was also not the worst neither. Catwoman was made in 2004. However, we do have another attempt of making ‘honey over cheese’ later – talk about Ghost Rider (2007).

Adaptations are much harder to make when it is concerned of a few factors like ‘hell’ and ‘god’, not impossible, but harder. Because the nature of the plot and setup takes a lot more energy and focus to make right…… to make it dark and serious enough for adult-nowadays audience to appreciate. Otherwise they just look like plastic fruit. Probably taste like one too.

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