Blu-ray Review: A Negative Look at ‘Spawn’

While we sit around here the States wondering where the f*cks our Blu-ray, those lucky(?) mofos in Canada have already received the HD release of Todd McFarlane’s Spawn from Alliance (who I consider the BEST of all distributors next to Disney — at least until I read this review). Directed by Mark A.Z. Dippe, John Leguizamo, Martin Sheen, Theresa Randle, Michael Jai White and Nicol Williamson all star in this 1997 live-action adaptation of McFarlane’s Image record-breaking comicbook. Check out Mike Pereira’s negative review by reading below. Maybe we’ll get a real transfer in the future?The Film

Todd McFarlane’s Spawn has always been one of my favorite comic books. From the time the comic burst onto the scene in 1992, I was instantly attracted to the character’s wild origin consisting of a murdered CIA agent who agrees to be a general in Hell’s Army, in order see his wife one last time. The material was a subversive work that stood out from the crowd. Five years later, the feature adaptation hit the big screen. I dug it at the time, most likely do to my undying devotion to the character. Spawn makes its blu-ray debut, thirteen years later. My perception of the film has definitely changed.

The CGI visual effects are still pretty impressive, probably all the more considering it didn’t have the largest budget at the time. Aside from that, there isn’t much else going for this misconceived adaptation. Aside from some truly sloppy storytelling, the filmmakers’ biggest mistake is watering down the character in order to make it more accessible to a wider audience. Problem is Spawn, at its very essence, as originally conceived by McFarlane, is a fairly dark material. As presented in the film, Spawn becomes more about its then, cutting-edge effects than about the story or characters. There’s barely either in Spawn which makes the material uninvolving. To make matters worse, the action scenes are poorly conceived and repetitious.

While John Leguizamo and his make-up work bring Clown vividly to life, the awful, humorless material he’s provided with makes the character irritating. Everyone else is pretty bad here especially the usually reliable, Martin Sheen as a very villainous, Jason Wynn. Aside from an extremely cool CGI-lead shot here and there, Spawn: the movie is an embarrassment for a character that deserves a lot better.

3 out of 10

Video

The MPEG-4 AVC 1080p transfer is an absolute joke. It looks like nothing more than an up-scaled DVD. Black levels and colors are shoddy to say the least. Detail is pretty much non-existent. I know Spawn was never an exceptional looking film but wow, this transfer looks like crap! HD, this is not!

2 out of 10

Audio

Spawn doesn’t come with a lossless audio track whatsoever. Too bad. One could only imagine how much this solid 5.1 Dolby Digital mix could have soared with an upgrade. As it stands, this sounds like the exact same audio mix from the DVD.

6 out of 10

Supplements

Unfortunately, none of the special features from the DVD was carried over.

Final Thoughts

Spawn is a terrific comic book character, fully deserving of a cinematic incarnation. This isn’t it. Sure, the ambitious visual effects are still pretty neat. Unfortunately, it never distracted me long enough from thinking Spawn isn’t anything more than a lousy movie. The terrible video presentation doesn’t help matters. This is simply an unacceptable blu-ray title that will surely rank as one of the worst ever produced for this amazing format.

Note: The fact Alliance Atlantis’ cover art is advertising this as the R-Rated Director’s Cut which it isn’t, should be enough proof that this package deserves nothing more than to suffer eternal damnation.

3 out of 10