Making the Grades
Just look at the video box and you'll know that Spawn is every reason a parent needs a finger held close to the eject button. Satanic themes, high-tech violence, and dark graphics account for much of the overall look and feel of the cover, and accurately describe the movie within. Surprisingly though, Spawn contains a worthwhile message that ranks it at the level of a chocolate granola bar -- lots of tantalizing junk coating a few morsels of truth.
Al Simmons (Michael Jai White) is killed in a fiery blast in a North Korean chemical weapons factory. For some reason Al, who seemed like a nice guy, finds himself in hell where he is offered a deal: Join Satan's army and he can see his fiancee again, or submit himself to the devil. Simmons takes the first choice and finds himself back in the cruel dark world as a badly disfigured being with supernatural powers, and a new name -- Spawn.
The promised morsel of truth lies in a character named Cogliostro (Nicol Williamson), who is a representative of the "good" side. (Odd ... we can have a devil, but never a God.) Cogliostro keeps reminding Spawn that we all choose to support good or evil in everything we do, and that our time on Earth is a test to see which side we will support. It's unfortunate that this message is buried under glitzy violent effects and recurring sexual innuendos.
Todd McFarlane, the creator of Spawn, chose the perfect title for his work, as it accurately describes McFarlane's marketing prowess. Starting as a comic book, his overcooked superhero has spawned into movies, a line of toy action figures, and licensed clothing and merchandise. His "problem" of having the MPAA request footage be cut to secure the coveted PG-13 rating has only given him one more opportunity as two versions of this film have been released to video. This gives hard-core Spawners who saw the film in theaters reason to ante up the rental to see the film with the minor cuts intact.