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SPAWN

SYNOPSIS:
Al Simmons (Michael Jai White) and Terry Fitzgerald (D.B. Sweeney) are mercenary agents who work for A6, a secret agency responsible for making political hits. Al's had enough killing, though, and wants out, but his boss, Jason Wynn (Martin Sheen), isn't willing to let him go. Instead, he and accomplice Jessica Priest (Mindy Clarke) kill Al. This is to fulfil Wynn's deal with The Violator (John Leguizamo), a demonic agent working for the Devil who needs one soldier to lead Hell-bound souls to storm the gates of Heaven. Al finds himself the unwilling choice for that and returns five years later, a burned hulk of a man with a skin that can turn into spiked armour and a fluid, ever-changing cape. Learning that Wynn was responsible for his death and that Terry has married Wanda (Theresa Randle), his former wife, the newly named Spawn seeks revenge on Wynn. Count Cogliostro (Nicol Williamson), an otherworldly agent for what's good and moral, tries to talk Al out it. Wynn has rigged his heart with a detonator linked to "Heat 16," a worldwide biological weapon that will be set off, killing everyone on Earth, should Wynn's heart stop beating. This would please the Violator and the Devil as their army of souls would grow larger. Thus Spawn must deal with his rage at Wynn, the Violator, and at having lost his wife to his former partner.

"When Hollywood tries to adapt a dark and dingy comic book into film, the results are invariably mixed and rarely work. Occasionally, an attempt on such material can only be described as, well, more woeful than mixed, and Spawn is the most woeful of them all. From its convoluted plot ('plot' is an extreme definition) to visual excesses and extraordinarily inept acting, for want of a better word, Spawn is mainstream Hollywood cinema at its worst, a self-indulgent, overly violent, utterly tasteless piece of egotistical rubbish that can only be directed by a guy called Mark A.Z. Dippé. With little to recommend it, except for some infrequent dashes of sly humour, Spawn is a ridiculous mess of a film, a work so dark and asinine that it forgets that an audience needs not only to be entertained, but it needs empathetic characters that are at least reasonably well defined. This has none of that. Whatever it was that prompted Martin Sheen to be a part of this mess had to have been very tempting indeed (mind you, one of the more amusing moments is a wry reference to an earlier Sheen classic, but nobody is likely to get the joke anyway). John Leguizamo had promise, but here, as a dumpy, foul-mouthed vile devil's handyman, he's appalling to the extreme, while Michael Jai White in the title role ought to go back to whatever it was he was doing before this movie came his way: unemployment perhaps? Garishly directed with a script to match, the conclusion of this cliched heaven v hell saga, suggests a sequel may well be spawned. Heaven help us, or should that be hell? Bring me the real apocalypse any day; surely it couldn't be worse than sitting through this piece of cinematic bile."
Paul Fischer

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SPAWN (M5+)
(US)

CAST: John Leguizamo, Michael Jai White, Martin Sheen, Theresa Randle, Melinda Clarke, Miko Hughes, Sydni Beaudoin, Nicol Williamson, D.B. Sweeney

DIRECTOR: Mark A.Z. Dippe

PRODUCER: Clint Goldman

SCRIPT: Alan McElroy, (screen story by McElroy, Dippe, based on the comic book by Todd McFarlane)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Guillermo Navarro

EDITOR: Michael N. Knue

MUSIC: Graeme Revell

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Philip Harrison

RUNNING TIME: 97 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 11, 1997







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