Fuck numbers, letters, and stars, I don't rate movies.
I don't read the Spawn comic books, but I've had someone describe them to me, and it seems like two days are taken on each individual frame of artwork, and about thirty seconds on the story for the year. A similar law applies for the movie. Now, if there are any comic book fans out there objecting to what I say, shaddap, because I've heard it all before. "Spawn deals with serious issues like child abuse and racism... blah blah blah" Congratulations, because nobody's EVER done that before. What does Spawn have to say about racism and shit, anyway? Are they good things or bad things?
Anyway, the movie. A special forces officer realizes that the jobs he's been doing have led to the loss of innocent lives. He tries to retire, but on his last job, he's betrayed and murdered. Little does he know his boss is in league with the forces of Hell, and that he's been selected to be their general in the war against Heaven. He's torn between the words of the evil Clown (John Luguizmo, and to give you an idea of what make-up can do, they turned him into the butt-ugly clown, and the most convincing transvestite "Chi-Chi Rodriguez" in To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar) and Heaven's rep Coligstro (the dude who played Merlin in Excalibur). Meanwhile, his ex-boss plots global blackmail with the use of a biological weapon. Using his new spectral powers to morph into about anything, he can play into Hell's hands and seek revenge, or rebel, and save the world.
In this movie, 90% of the effort has been spent on the special effects. Oh, but what special effects. Blades spring out of nowhere with a menacing sound. Fat clowns mutate into evil demons. Spawn's cape wraps around his armored body like fire. In fact, Spawn's cape has more expression than the actor playing him. Quite often the actors get in the way of special effects. You find yourself saying "Get the idiot out of the way, and let’s see some more cool animation."
Despite the mostly flawless animation, action sequences can be confusing and poorly directed at times (I thinking in particular of the climatic fight in Hell, where there's so much going on you're not sure if you're watching Spawn the movie, or playing Spawn on the N64). Characters aren't much to speak of. Cagliostro is more interesting than Spawn, but we don't see nearly enough of him and they force him to speakin that "Enigmatic Master" shit, so we don't really get a sense of him.
Martin Sheen, evil boss guy, talks like someone who's been accused of being gay, so he drops his voice down low. Male hormones are entertained by Melinda Clarke, who appears briefly as Jessica Priest (is the clever irony of that name punching you in the head yet?), the assassin who kills Spawn to set off this otherworldly chain of events. She wears a kinky leather outfit and high heels (like most professional mercenaries) in her brief time on screen.
Some are saying that the only worthwhile character is the Clown, a sleazy demon who oozes wisecracks throughout the movie. In fact, he never shuts up. By making him yack non-stop, they often rob him of any sense of real menace. That's bad, because he's supposed to be Spawn’s number one enemy for the movie. We also see the Lord of Hell, whom they gave a name stupid enough for me to forget. He is a badly-rendered CGI character with the voice of Doctor Claw from Inspector Gadget. I was about as afraid of him as I am of my hamster, Winkie.
Did I hate this movie? Nah. I'm being too harsh. I went in with low expectations and I was fine. I went to see special effects and lots of explosions, and I got 'em. If you managed to stomach the latest lame-ass Batman sequel, you can handle this.