New on Blu-ray: Spawn (1997)

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Michael Jai White in Spawn (1997) Movie Image

Getting killed sucks, but try getting killed then re-spawned (get it?) as a demonic force with superpowers. Hey, not such a bad deal, right? Superpowers, man! But wait, there’s a catch! It’s been years since you died, your wife has since re-married, and oh yeah, you now have a pizza for a face. Bloody Hell! That’s the situation for the hero of “Spawn”, a 1997 comic book movie based on the creation of former Image Comics co-founder Todd McFarlane. The film now arrives on Blu-ray for the first time on July 10, 2012 courtesy of Warner Home Video.

Five years after he was murdered by his own colleagues in a covert government operation, Al Simmons makes a pact with the devil to be resurrected so that he may see his wife Wanda once more. In return for the favor, the devil requires, in typically Faustian fashion, that Simmons lead Hell’s Army for the destruction of humankind. Blessed in life with extraordinary killing skills, Simmons is even more deadly with the backing of his new master and the changling powers he has at his disposal. As he begins to discover and exercise his new strengths, he encounters two figures who direct him to use his powers in order to serve two different agendas. Cogliostro encourages Spawn to fight the devil and become a new champion for humankind, while Clown goads Spawn into continuing to serve his new master and lead the Armageddon.

Has it been that long ago since McFarlane, as part of the Marvel exodus, form the appropriately named Image Comics and created “Spawn”? Almost 20 years ago, in fact. “Spawn” the movie came out in 1997, five years after the comic book, and McFarlane has been trying to recover since.

2 clips from “Spawn” Director’s Cut

“Spawn” is your basic comic book movie Origins Story, tracking its hero as he dies, comes back 5 years later, and tries to make amends for his evil past while keeping the forces of Hell at bay. There are some amusing action sequences, most of it involving characters shape-shifting or CG-morphing into various things. Spawn’s cape, as in the comics, has a life of its own, though it looks a tad silly when realized onscreen. (Go figure; things work better as a 2D comic book panel.) Watching Spawn running around with machineguns while still wearing his costume was a hoot, though, then and now. In a lot of ways, “Spawn” fares better on second viewing (I can’t recall the last time I saw the film), though its Hell sequences still remain its biggest liability, and is, on Blu-ray, even worse than I remembered, if that’s even possible.

Almost 15 years later, “Spawn” is a decent comic book movie for its time. It had some nice special effects (it boasted a $40 million dollar production budget, which may not sound like much now, but was quite a lot for a relatively unknown superhero character back in 1997 — you know, back when comic books were still called comic books and not the oh so fancy “graphic novels” that everyone in Hollywood insists on calling them nowadays), and Michael Jai White was excellent as the former Government assassin turned hellspawn. John Leguizamo, often accused of overacting (well, yeah, I guess he does do that a bit), is big time fun as the obese supernatural clown who torments Jai White’s Al Simmons. And Martin Sheen, well, okay, that wasn’t exactly target casting there, though I guess he played the heavy well enough. Theresa Randle as Simmons’ object of affection and Melinda Clarke as the Bad Girl were both lovely, though. The writing was a bit too on-the-nose, and there are parts of the film (again, all the Hell sequences) that will likely make you cringe.

John Leguizamo in Spawn (1997) Movie Image

Released for the first time on Blu-ray, “Spawn” boasts an R-rated Director’s Cut that is definitely a lot more violent than the theatrical PG-13 version released in theaters back in 1997. The Blu-ray video and sound were good. Special features include a full-length audio commentary track by “Spawn” creator Todd McFarlane, along with director Mark Dippe, producer Clint Goldman and visual effects supervisor Steve Williams. McFarlane is clearly not in the same room as the others, which makes the track a bit confusing as it hops back and forth between the participants. Dippe starts off the commentary by declaring, “This is Mark Dippe, I’m the director of ‘Spawn’, and you can blame it all on me.” Though after listening to the track, I don’t think he means it.

Additional bonus materials include stuff that were most likely available in the previously released DVD, including a 22-minute “The Making of Spawn”, about, well, the making of “Spawn”; a 20-minute “Todd McFarlane: Chapter and Verse”, which features McFarlane talking about the character’s translation from comic book to screen; a series of scene to storyboard comparisons; lots and lots of stuff on McFarlane’s artwork; plus a 2-minute preview of the HBO “Spawn” TV show. And finally, a pair of music videos, one by Filter and The Crystal Method for “Trip Like I Do” and another, extremely painful to watch one for Marilyn Manson and the Sneaker Pimps called “Long Hard Road Out of Hell”.

One final note: as of this Blu-ray release, Todd McFarlane has been attempting to relaunch the character for a few years now. This is definitely one property that I wouldn’t mind seeing “re-invented”.

Buy “Spawn” on Blu-ray for the first time from Warner Home Video.

Spawn (1997) Movie Blu-ray Cover

Author: Nix

Editor/Writer at BeyondHollywood.com. Likes: long walks on the beach and Kevin Costner post-apocalyptic movies. Dislikes: 3D, shaky cam, and shaky cam in 3D. Got a site issue? Wanna submit Movie/TV news? Or to email me in regards to anything on the site, you can do so at nix (at) beyondhollywood.com.
  • Juggernaut

    Really? Why?

    • T-800

      Why not?

      • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Dedpool

        Yeah why not? SUre its a tad dated, but for it’s time it was one of the better comicbook films. As a matter of fact i think this is what got New Line “Blade” from Marvel as it was a year before. They may have seen what they were doing with something that big and were like well with our little known property they can blow it up crazy. I still love “Spawn” to this day and some of Leguizamo’s lines I STILL recite! I will be getting this.

        “Man you were tied to the tracks and that stupid train just kept runnin over ya didn’t it?!? just runnin over ya!!” “Tastes so good makes me wanna kick some puppies!!” (That I use when playing GoW)

        • Urizen

          “I hate sunday Satanists”

  • Debo4735

    I don’t know why they don’t remake this movie, and keep Michael Jai White as Al Simmons/Spawn. With all the new things they can do with CGI, and it can finally get MJW to stop doing bull shyte Tyler Perry movies and shows. I mean damn the guy could be the best black action star ever, I think he should have been Blade, he should be Tachalla/ The Black Panther. He made Blood and Bone like an episode of Kung Fu with Bone filling the Kwai Chang Kaine role…piont is wher’s my B&B 2? Bottom line MJW please stop leaning to T.P. his movies are not writen to help you. This movie should be remade with an R rating, and not PG-13 like the first time.

    • X_p

      ive often thought mjw should get more work but it never happens. and its not like wesley snipes is out there doing that many more roles. hes in jail right? idk it was cool to see him in the dark knight but he doesnt do anything cept die in it. so idk maybe hollywood knows something we dont like how bad he really is at acting or …idk. tough to say.

    • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Dedpool

      I would love to see Spawn remade with MJW! I too loved Blood and Bone (though the lack of anything resembling a challenge for him was kind of a let down) and would love a sequel that connects to his backstory like why was he in jail, what’d his brother do, etc. That said Ithink him doing the Tyler Perry movies and shows helped him massively. They have definitely helped him hone his craft as an actor, not an action star but an actor. I mean if you look at his acting throughout his career it’s only gotten better since he did those films. PLus they helped him work on his emotional range as an actor as well as comedic timing. I think he would’ve been a great Blade, still do. Not so much for Black Panther (There are others better suited) but he’d be a decent Luke Cage too (though I can see others in that role as well, but he’d rock the part). Bottom Line he’s doing what he can to round himself as an artist. He doean’t want to be a strictly action star, but he’s definitely riding the fence a bit much for me. Still gotta see Never Back Down 2.

    • Ronnie

      Personally, if they do a remake, I would love to see Keith David- who played Spawn in the much superior animated series- reprise Spawn in live-action.

      • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Dedpool

        I love me some Keith David! I think he’d be great playing Mamon or something like that. David is much too old to play the role. Hell he was back when this came out. But I love Goliath/Spawn! lol

  • X_p

    the cape didnt look silly it looked awesome! esp in that scene where the cops are looking for him on the side of the building and the cape carries him off. that was great cinema, or better mushrooms, at this point i dont remember it was 97 after all. id say tho, the silliest things in this movie were spawns face without the mask on, martin sheen, and the homeless child story. from there on its all awesomeness, from the r rating to the violator to spawn using two machine guns. Mcfarlane was one of my fav artists back in the day, i wish him luck in getting this back out but i gotta admit his low budget reboot ideas are kinda lame and sound desperate.

    • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Dedpool

      Yeah I personally loved the “Batman” crashing through the skylight scene with the cape and chains. The face could’ve been better but they did all they could to not make him look like Freddy. Definitely want McFarlane to get off his ass and get this done!!! I mean an R-rated Spawn film made now, OH MAN!!!