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Superhero Shorts: Spawn: The Recall

Welcome to another edition of Superhero Shorts where I take a look at a superhero themed short film and as a few questions of its creator. This time around I’m talking with Michael Paris about his short film set in the Spawn universe with an original character as well as an appearance by Spawn himself. It’s a film that was two years in the making due to all the visual effects that Paris did all on his own. As usual, you can watch it below or you can check it out at the official website, and you can also check out Michael Paris’s earlier work at his own website.
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Black Superhero Month

I knew it would be easy to guess my theme for this month, but when I needed to decide what movies I should watch for this month, I realized that it was Black History Month and I thought I would see how many black superhero movies there were. I managed to find 9 of them: Catwoman, Spawn, Hancock, Blankman, The Meteor Man, Steel, Blade, Blade II, and Blade Trinity. Some of them are pretty good, a lot of them are really bad. And I’m actually over halfway through watching them. I only have Steel and the Blade Trilogy left to watch. One other thing that snuck up on me was the fact that Ghost Rider and Chronicle came out this month. I managed to watch and review Chronicle already and plan to watch the new Ghost Rider and the old one for good measure. So I’m in for a busy month. In fact I was so busy writing the review for The Meteor Man that I almost forgot to write this blog post for today which is why I’m posting it just before midnight.

It’s really a sad state of affairs that when someone mentions a black superhero movie, they either think of Blade, or they think of a really bad movie like Steel or Catwoman. And honestly a lot of movie fans aren’t that fond of the Blade movies, especially when you get around to the third one with Jessica Biel and Ryan Reynolds. And a couple things that come up when talking about black superheroes is why has no one made a Black Panther movie yet? And of course there’s also talk I’ve heard going around of Michael Jai White wanting to make a superhero movie that I can’t think of at the moment and when I tried to search for it it seems to have been overtaken by talks from July about rebooting the Spawn franchise as a hard “R” rated movie. Which I think would be great. Spawn had a lot of potential but it was hurt by the PG-13, script issues, CGI issues, and acting issues. Michael Jai White has grown a lot as an actor and CGI has improved and gotten less expensive, I think it would be great to see a Spawn reboot. Forget that, I’d rather see a Spawn sequel, forget the reboots, there’s enough Superhero origin stories, just make it a sequel, skip retelling the origin, and get straight to the action. And if anyone wants to remind me of that other Superhero White was trying to get made into a movie, leave a comment.

I also wanted to mention that while I didn’t watch the Superbowl, I did manage to catch the new trailers for both the Avengers and The Amazing Spiderman. I’m really excited to see both of them. I didn’t realize that Denis Leary was going to be in the new Spiderman movie and I’m really interested to see what he brings to the movie. I also like the actor, Garfield or whatever his name is. I’m kind of torn over the mechanical webslingers for some reason though. I actually liked the decision that the first series of movies made to make the webbing be a part of his transformation rather than something he made on his own. I understand that a lot of fans thought that the chemical webbing showed a part of Peter Parker’s scientific side, my thoughts are “what’s the first thing you think of when asked what abilities does a spider have?” I’m pretty sure it’s not amazing strength or precognitive ability. It’s the ability to create webs. But whatever, it’s really a minor thing but what I’m most annoyed about that I’m sure will happen at least once during the movie is there will be a critical moment where Spiderman’s web fluid will run out at the worst possible time. On another more random note, I realized that when the movie comes out I will be watching the Tobey Maguire Spiderman movies, but I will be watching them in reverse order. Starting with the worst of them all, Spiderman 3, moving to what some consider the best of them all Spiderman 2, and finishing off with Tobey’s origin story before watching… this guy’s origin story. Anyway check out my review of Hancock coming up on Thursday, until next time this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.

Spawn

Spawn 1997

 

It’s Monday night and my latest batch of movies are due back the next day with Spawn still left to watch, it’s the second movie fitting my theme for February. Even though this movie is rated PG-13 just like Catwoman and Captain America, I figured it was a bit too far out there for my daughter so Jena sat this one out. I’d seen this movie before a long time ago, I don’t remember exactly where, probably on TV or home video. The one thing I do remember about the campaign around this movie is an interview with John Leguizamo talking about playing the clown who seemed pretty passionate about the comic and the fact that even though he was pretty short, he was still five foot something, where the clown was supposed to be around three foot something, so he played it hunched down as much as he could to make it closer to the comic. I remember thinking it was pretty impressive that he showed that much enthusiasm for the comic book.

Spawn comes from Image comics and creator Todd McFarlane, whose name I recognize as one of the few writer/artists in the comic book world that I know for the simple fact that he has gone to great lengths to make his name known. Next to Stan Lee, I would guess that Todd McFarlane’s name is one of the best known names in comics to non-comic fans or casual comic fans. I had never read, and have still never read a Spawn comic book but I am familiar with his image. He has a great look, and I don’t feel that it copied over to the screen very well. My impression based on comic book covers is that Spawn’s costume is sleek and smooth, but in the movie it’s very heavily texture and it ends up looking like molded rubber which is probably what it is. The only part that the movie got right was the cape, and even though it’s used infrequenly, I thought it looked fantastic as did all the moving parts of the costume like the chains, the spikes, and whatnot, but when he’s just walking around it looks like he’s in a rubber suit.

Anyway, this movie tells the origin of Spawn and has a ton of boring exposition especially at the beginning with what felt like the longest credit sequence ever. Something about hell’s armies, chosen one, blah blah blah, I kind of tuned out during that part. They introduce the man who would be Spawn as a government looking non-government military agent who specializes in assassinations. He’s killed by his boss played by Martin Sheen because he wanted out, and I think the clown told Martin Sheen to do it also, but you find that out later. They also exploded a chemical plant that somehow created an ultravirus that he was then able to weaponize and create a cure for himself and his would-be allies. Cut to Spawn waking up in a bum city slash alleyway with his face scarred from burns and occasionally glowing green, met by an out of time looking guy who also glowed green earlier who tries to reason with Spawn, help him, and teach him. Basically this movie’s attempt at an Obi-Wan type character.

You find out that Spawn agreed to lead the army of the worst looking CGI Satan beast I’ve ever seen because… you know, they never really explained why CGI Satan needed to have him specifically lead his army in the first place. And the battle begins between Cogli…whatever, the old guy and the Clown battling over Spawn’s conscience. The Clown is doing his best to get him to kill Martin Sheen and release the virus all over the world, while the old guy is trying to reach Spawn’s humanity and have him fight for good. Of course, being sent back from Hell comes with benefits in the form of necroplasm. At least I think that’s what they called it. It pretty much does whatever you want it to, like an evil Green Lantern ring, though it tends to be used for a lot cooler things than a giant fist or a giant flyswatter. At the same time I guess it’s also used for some weird lame things like suction cup hands and making him look like a wall for a few seconds only to be seen as soon as he stops hiding. There’s also a couple mentions of how you can die as a Hellspawn, you either have your head cut off or you use up all your necroplasm power.

There’s also the requisite loves story where Spawn loved Wanda, but since Spawn was left in Hell for five years, she has since married Spawn’s old partner and has what looks like a six year old kid. Was this written by the same person that wrote Superman Returns? It seemed like they used the same math. They also never explicitly said whether or not the kid is Spawn’s kid or Spawn’s partner’s kid, though it seems like she was Spawn’s kid. Of course good wins out at the end with Spawn escaping Hell and taking over for the old guy in the fight for good or whatever.

I wanted to like this movie. I remembered liking it when I saw it the first time, but it wasn’t all that great at all. There’s so much of it that just doesn’t make sense. Why was Spawn chosen? Why is he needed specifically to lead Satan’s army? Why do they need him specifically to kill Martin Sheen, why not just have the Clown do it? Why send him back to Earth in an old alleyway right next to the guy that escaped Hell 500 years ago and has been fighting them ever since? Why does Spawn have an entire body of necroplasm for him to use while the old guy just has the one arm? And what the heck did Spawn do to all those other Spawn-looking demons when he was back in Hell the second time? Was he stealing their necroplasm? Just shooting out weird green electricity? And most of the CGI in this movie is horribly dated. The only good parts were Spawn’s cape, some of his armor powers, and some of the scenes with the Violator. Although I get the feeling that the better scenes of the Violator were done with models or animatronics rather than CGI. Either that or just better CGI.

The best part of the movie surprisingly is the Clown. Funnily enough I remembered not liking the Clown very much when I first saw the movie. But somehow his constant string of bad jokes, farts, and just plain being disgusting was pretty funny when paired with the ultraseriousness of Spawn’s origin. But what made this even more enjoyable to me was how much my wife reacted to his disgustingness. She has a very weak stomach for things like nasty food, farts, and especially the stained underwear scene, and the more uncomfortable she became, the funnier the scene became. That probably makes me a horrible person. For the Clown and the cape alone, I thought this movie was worth seeing. But for anyone else, it just doesn’t hold up that well anymore. I’m hoping to watch and review Chronicle before Tuesday’s post, but if not then Hancock will be up Tuesday instead of Thursday. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.