So once again we have survived.

Spawn

tn_spawnIn my review of BLACK DYNAMITE I talked about how happy I was for its star, Michael Jai White, and I mentioned that one of the obstacles he overcame was that his first big starring role after TYSON was “one of the worst comic book movies ever.” (Weirdly he’s also in DARK KNIGHT, one of the best comic book movies ever.)

“One of the worst comic book movies ever” is a serious accusation, though. This is a lenient genre that allowed the creation of BATMAN FOREVER, BATMAN AND ROBIN, FANTASTIC FOUR, DAREDEVIL, GHOST RIDER, etc. I mean there’s some good ones and there are just some shockingly horrible ones, that’s the type of deal we got here, the Two Face coin could land on either side.

Since I threw it out there I figured it was only fair that I go back and force myself to watch SPAWN again to make sure it really was the unmitigated crap I remembered it as. Turns out I remembered right, there was no mitigation at all.

mp_spawnWhite plays Al Simmons, special ops assassin and all-around badass. In the opening he executes a high tech hit on some terrorists, but he’s upset that civilians were killed. His boss at the CIA is Martin Sheen (this is a prequel to THE WEST WING). What he doesn’t know is that Sheen is in league with Clown, which is John Leguizamo buried under full body and face makeup. Everybody always refers to him as a clown but the only time he’s at all a clown is during one scene at a birthday party. The rest of the time he’s just a grotesque, waddling, four foot tall fat man in a leather jacket and face paint like The Ultimate Warrior from WWF. He also thinks he’s the fuckin genie from Aladdin so he turns himself into a cheerleader, a balloon, etc. and makes terrible puns. (He doesn’t do an Arsenio impression at least.) Sometimes he can turn into a big monster and bite people. The rest of the time he eats maggots and farts glowing green clouds. (There’s alot of glowing green stuff in this movie, much more than I was ready for.)

Anyway, this so-called Clown is the agent of the Devil, a furry CGI creature with an underbite whose mouth doesn’t move when he talks and whose animation looks, without exaggeration, worse than modern video games. He knows Michael Jai White is awesome (maybe he can look into the future to see UNDISPUTED II) so he tricks Martin Sheen into burning Al alive so he’ll drop into a video game Hell where he’ll be told he can see his wife Wanda again if he leads the Army of Hell in a war against Heaven. Al says yes without even stopping to consider his other career options.

So then it’s kind of like DARKMAN, he’s a horribly disfigured homeless man who spies on his family (his wife is now married to his best friend, D.B. Sweeney). Meanwhile an old knight whose hand occasionally morphs into a sword teaches him about his powers and tries to sway him to the Heaven agenda. He learns he can shoot chains, fly and sprout a CGI cape that looks like 75 feet of fried chicken skin. His body turns into a rubber monster suit and his head can wrap itself in a demonic Spider-man mask with glowing eyes (green of course).

For a while he goes around with giant machine guns shooting everything, which looks kind of hilarious, like Godzilla or the wolfman using a gun. I kept wondering why he was using all these guns when he has magic hell powers, until the knight guy told him he has to conserve his powers because he only has a limited amount. “Oh, that’s why he still has the guns,” I thought and at exactly that point Spawn threw the guns away, and the limited power thing never came up again. Good to know though, thanks for mentioning that.

Obviously it goes without saying that an innocent but streetwise homeless kid with a backwards cap (Miko Hughes, little Gage from PET SEMETARY) becomes his friend.

Martin Sheen’s bad guy character talks a big game but the truth is he’s a full-time sucker. There’s no other way to explain him agreeing to have surgery to attach a detonator to his heart so if it stops beating it will unleash deadly chemical weapons somewhere. He believes it means nobody will kill him, but the reality is Clown just wants Al to kill him and set off the weapons to start World War III. To ensure that the audience picks up on this convoluted plan Clown explains it out loud – and not even to somebody else like a James Bond villain. He’s just talking to himself, or maybe the camera crew.

In retrospect we should’ve known THE SPIRIT could happen, because SPAWN already happened. It’s like the memo saying that THE SPIRIT is determined to attack inside movie theaters. This is a perfect example of an insulated world where people keep telling each other “yeah, the comic book is really popular, I guess the movie will be too” without stopping to look at what the fuck this moronic garbage is that they’re filming. It’s obvious that some asshole liked to draw capes, chains, muscles and Spider-man masks and based his “story” and “characters” around those fetishes. The Clown is a stupid character with no meaning. Why does he wear a leather jacket? Probaly because the guy who drew him thought leather jackets were cool, no other reason. Same as Chester Cheetah wearing Chuck Taylors. They have about the same level of thought put into these two great characters, Clown and Chester. I like Chester better though because he farts less.

A decent writer could probaly take this basic setup, dump the extra baggage, and come up with something interesting. This whole super hero Faust thing – a demon trying to fight the devil using the powers he got from Hell – has a nice mythical feel to it. But this movie is slapped together with seemingly no thought whatsoever. The second or third draft was probaly a napkin that said “CIA – explosion – birthday party – farting – green? – monster at end” with some phone numbers and doodles of naked ladies scrawled around the edges. It’s like the second TRANSFORMERS movie: every single aspect is one-dimensional. They tell us he’s a good soldier, then tell us he has a conscience, then tell us he loves his wife, then tell us he’ll do anything for her. They just have the dots and none of the lines. Nothing is developed at all. Everything has the bare minimum explained in the crudest possible way. And the style is in–your-face cheesy. It opens with narration over a corny barrage of Hell imagery exactly like a DVD menu.

The rookie director is special effects man Mark A.Z. Dippe, who went on to direct FRANKENFISH and GARFIELD GETS REAL. You’d never guess it now but some of the effects were done by George Lucas’s company Industrial Light and Magic, and according to the making of featurette on the DVD (hosted by White) it was supposed to be a big, mindblowing special effects showcase. I guess some of the morphing effects on Spawn are okay, and the big monster is funny in the same way he would’ve been if he was a big rubber rod puppet, but I doubt any of them still include this one on their resumes.

Poor Michael Jai White does what he can. He gets to say alot of corny lines in his deep voice. He calls somebody a “dirtbag.” He talks to a dog named Spaz. When he gets shot and heals up he says “Damn!” I think the internet was right, he should get to play Blade if they’re ever doing one and Wesley Snipes doesn’t want to do it and signs a permission slip for him. I guess this was pretty good practice for playing a good super hero some day, or maybe more of a fraternity style hazing for it. They could chain him up naked somewhere and paint humiliating phrases on him, or he could play Spawn.

SPAWN is pretty funny in a so-bad-it’s-kind-of-interesting-I-guess kind of way, and as a 1997 time capsule. It really makes you think about how different things were even though it doesn’t seem that long ago. But then you remember that everybody thought this movie was terrible back then too, so it’s not really fair for it to be representative of the era – it’s just representative of some comic book drawer who got lucky and got a bunch of Hollywood money for his stupid idea even though he doesn’t even know what a clown is. Come on dude, you need to get out more.

spawnclown

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 15th, 2009 at 12:27 am and is filed under Comic strips/Super heroes, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

111 Responses to “Spawn”

  1. Yeah, it’s a strange movie. When I was 16 I thought it was pretty cool, although even back then I knew that it was bad. Not to mention that it was maybe the first time where we could see, that ILM is also able to produce some unbelievable crappy FX. I mean, come on! Hell in this movie looks worse than any randomly picked Special Effect in “Xena”! (I might be wrong with this “first time” thing, but every other bad ILM effect before “Spawn” was mostly just a product of its time [=they just couldn’t make it better back then]. Only the first “Harry Potter” movies come close to this kind of bad quality in ILM effects!]
    One interesting aspect is the difference between how Simmons dies in the the theatrical and the director’s cut (Which is also the only noticable difference between the two versions). In the director’s cut they set him on fire and leave before everything blows up, while in the theatrical cut it looks like they knock him unconcious and then set a bomb. He also yells in the director’s cut the name of his wife while he is burning, while in the theatrical cut he yells it during the bad computer animation, when he goes to hell.
    On a different note, I still love the soundtrack album! You just can’t deny the power of Slayer & Atari Teenage Riot, Marylin Manson & The Sneaker Pimps or Henry Rollins & Goldie. The “Blade 2” Soundtrack later took the concept of putting electro/dance artists together with artists from a different genre (in that case: Hip Hop) , but that’s a different and pretty pointless story.

  2. Ebert gave this 3 and a half stars because he loved the visual style.

  3. I remember seeing this in a video store 9 years ago and being really excited. My life has been in decline ever since that moment. I hate you Spawn!!

    The making of featurette about the special effects used to be shown on the sci fi channel ALL THE TIME, as if they were proud of the mess they created.

    Did anyone ever watch the tv show? Was it any better?

    I watched this movie at the wrong time in my life.

  4. Spawn as a comic book character kind of blows, but luckily he was introduced during the dark ages of comics, when people would buy anything that prominently featured a dark and brooding anti-hero holding large guns. As long as it was computer coloured and printed on nice, glossy paper, people didn’t give two shits about the content. McFarlane’s a decent artist, but looking at the very, very 90s artwork of the comic it’s clear that it was never meant to be seen in 3 dimensions. A 40 foot cape looks cool on the printed page, but in real life it just looks stupid. That goes double for the Clown, underbite Satan and all that other shit. The crappy CGI didn’t help either. I remember people making a big deal about the special effects in this film, but from what I remember they totally sucked, even for the time.

  5. Ahhh , Spawn , where to begin? I’ve actually seen this in the theater , and at the time , I was actually looking forward to it . I was speechless when I left . While not good in any way , it wasn’t the acting that pissed me off , it was the special effects . My god , that was BAD , especially the Devil and Hell double-punch. Okay , I liked some of the effects , like the cape and the clown-monster , but sweet Jesus , the rest sucked. I , too , think that there’s a good story buried here somewhere , and you’ve got to admit that the demon-vs-hell plus the FAUST undertones are a little more original than what we are getting today ( essentially , remakes ).At least they were trying to shoot something new , and , in my opinion , this movie IS a time capsule. It was filmed in a time when comic book movies were considered child-only material and not worthy of a serious adaptation , then , the year after , BLADE came out , and changed the landscape forever. I truly consider comics a more mature media than most people ( and if you’re skeptical , try Watchmen , Maus , Eisner or The Eternaut ) , and I’m happy that we’re moving in that direction with movies. Speaking of Watchmen , Vern , are you going to review it ?

  6. “It’s obvious that some asshole liked to draw capes, chains, muscles and Spider-man masks and based his “story” and “characters” around those fetishes.”

    True dat. I saw this ten years ago and thought it was pretty awful, then caught it again on the television about a month or two back and reckoned I’d been too easy on it.

    But thanks for that last clown picture Vern. That ‘bananas’ text made me laugh so hard I had to go to the toilet, and I’m still not sure why.

  7. Yes that soundtrack rules

  8. Can’t believe Ebert ends his 3 1/2 star review by saying “Spawn is unforgettable”. I LITERALLY forgot this movie existed, and I’m willing to bet the farm Ebert forgot too. Only things I retained: a) my friends enjoyed it alright – I kept waiting for it to be good and it never really happened b) I secretly loved the Sneaker Pimps/Marilyn Manson song from the soundtrack. Catchy as hell but it was pretty uncool to like Manson at the time. c) I had a huge crush on Melinda “Mindy” Clarke, post Return of the Living Dead III and (especially) Return to Two Moon Junction. But it’s easy to see why she doesn’t get even a mention from Vern or Ebert -she’s totally underutilized and strangely not that hot in this movie, despite being an assassin in tight leather pants. White tried his damnedest though and like my earlier LXG comment, it’s kinda fun when an unknown takes a big role in a big summer blockbuster.

  9. Kevin Holsinger

    July 15th, 2009 at 6:27 am

    Good morning, Vern.

    If you can rent it, and have A LOT of time to kill, Spawn the Animated Series was good.

    It’s three seasons long, and has Keith David as Spawn. The downside, if you’d call it that, is that the story didn’t complete before the series ended. On the other hand, Spawn was just about to turn into a more conventional superhero anyway, so I’m kind of glad it ended where it did.

  10. I remember my neighbors in the hicklands of East Tennessee didn’t want to see SPAWN, because they heard it was about a devil-worshipping superhero. SPAWN is a shitty movie, but it’s about as Satanic as Michael Bay.

    Is Todd McFarlane still blaming everyone but himself for the movie sucking? I mean look Todd boy, I know you got wealthy off Spawn (thats how you spent millions EACH on a baseball) but the idea was silly in the first place.

    Spawn truely was one of the bastard children of WATCHMEN, a child who missed the thematic and philosophical point of its father.

  11. caruso_stalker217

    July 15th, 2009 at 8:34 am

    I was eleven when this came out. After we left the theater I told my brother it was the best movie I’d ever seen.

    I want to slap that kid so hard.

    THE SPIRIT is actually pretty decent, though completely inept.

  12. As Satanic as Michael Bay? That’s pretty damn satanic.

    Sure, everything about the movie was terrible, a fact even obvious to me at the young age I saw it. And sure, Martin Sheen’s performance has to rank among the worst of all time. But didn’t anyone else just take kind of a perverse, unsettling pleasure in seeing John Leguizamo in a fat, evil clown costume? You know, like that movie where Gary Oldman plays a dwarf?

  13. Okay, let me ask this first – why the hell did they cast Leguizamo as a four-feet tall fat evil clown?!! Was it his voice? His accent? Some casting exec’s nightmare? IMDB lists Leguizamo as 5′ 8″ so it couldn’t be his height, right?

  14. I remember feeling unsatisfied by this even when I was 12. Still, I saw it again a few years ago, and thought it could have been passable if it hadn’t had such a jerky narrative where they kept going back and forth to tell Spawn’s origin. I think the Clown even literally says “I’m gonna take you back” at one point, and then twurls around, obviously with such force that it allows them to see visions from the past.

  15. Oh, and I liked that “Can you trip like I do?” song.

  16. “Did anyone ever watch the tv show? Was it any better?”
    Yeah pheteesh, it was. It was much darker and more subtle visually, with Spawn put into the darkness a lot and not overly exposed. Maybe it took itself way too seriously though, and when I watched it, there were these godawful live-action intros where Todd McFarlane was on a soundstage street with copious amounts of fog/steam, reading out trite monologues that make the voiceovers on Heroes seem insightfull.

  17. One thing I forgot to mention: I saw one of those ICE AGE movies on a plane one time, and also I keep seeing the ads for part 3. So hearing that voice come out of the evil clown I kept thinking of the lovable weasel or whatever the fuck that is that he plays in cartoons.

  18. Also (this is the last thing I forgot to say I promise) I don’t think it’s anywhere near as bad as “The Spirit”.

    Or “Ice Age 3”, but that’s kind of by-the-by.

  19. I just remembered that “Spawn” also has the most unreadable end credits in movie history.

  20. I actually think the basic idea (Special Ops badass comes back from Hell with powers, guns) is pretty decent to hang a superhero movie on. I’m surprised no one has dug this character up for a new spin. Apparently they want to make a Spawn movie but McFarlane is refusing to let anyone besides himself write or direct it. Because we all know how well it works out when comic writers male movies out of their stuff…

  21. *make movies, fuck I’m bad at this.

  22. i was… 13-14 when this movie came out, so obviously i liked it at the time. still have the VHS somewhere i think. probably never watch it again, unless i’m looking for a laugh (or nostalgia, it happens). i’d say the soundtrack had more impact on me than anything. i’m surprised it’s not scratched beyond repair considering the amount of spins that one got. interesting concept of mixing nu metal groups with electronic artists. THAT is the time capsule of the era, not the movie.

    anyways, great review. wish it were longer, but cmon, it’s Spawn.

  23. and to the guy near the top who asked about the tv show, it was pretty impressive. not for children. i’d call it a mini series actually, basically 3 movies. you can’t deny Keith David as Spawn is some astounding voice casting. worth checking out.

  24. I actually liked Spawn as a kid. I guess it was one of the first superhero flicks except Superman and Batman. I enjoyed the visuals and the fact that our hero is quite unlikable and ugly, not the usual noble and handsome superhero, appealing for everybody.
    It’s funny I can still remember thinking about the magic of special effects, when Clown ate worms which kept twitching. It appears “John Leguizamo ate live maggots on pizza for this film”.
    And still the Clown is less annoying than Jar-Jar Binks or Car-Car Binks.

  25. Christian Brimo

    July 15th, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    “It’s obvious that some asshole liked to draw capes, chains, muscles and Spider-man masks and based his “story” and “characters” around those fetishes.”

    there was some old Mad Magazine gag that just dissected Spawn. McFarlane was also responsible for Venom, who was responsible for the lameish ending of the last Spider-Man movie. he also tied up the rights for Marvelman/Miracleman and is an all around asshole

    still I loved this movie when i was a kid. i saw it in theatres around the same time i saw Waterworld. i must have been 13. i dunno… i loved both of them, even though everybody hates them. i’m not sure why. i know they’re not good movies but they’re just enjoyable. in a moronic way

  26. Christian Brimo

    July 15th, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    and the whole ‘Faust as a superhero thing’ was just ripped off from Ghost Rider, who’s been around since the 70s. or even Blade, who’s been around since the 80s

  27. I’m glad people mentioned the Ebert review. I was confused by that one, Roger. Still am.

    I’ve always hated this movie with a passion. To the point I wouldn’t even talk about how I hate it like BATMAN & ROBIN (that one is fun to talk about how bad it is). SPAWN just makes me angry.

    I remember wanting to leave, but never quite getting to doing so and finding out that the three other people I saw it with were waiting for someone to leave and they would have. Then we saw AIR FORCE ONE afterwards to wash the memory as much as possible.

    I never want to see this movie ever again.

  28. Todd McFarlane is a class act. And by that I mean, raging douchebag. He’s the guy who bought McGuire’s record breaking home run ball for a ridiculous sum, and almost before the auction was over the record was broken again and it was basically worthless. But if you want a good laugh, check out the Spawn animated series (which wasn’t too bad, itself) and watch his “spooky” cryptkeeper-wannabe intros for every episode.

    I remember seeing this in theaters, and– being a new comic book devotee– trying to convince myself that it wasn’t one of the worst movies I’d ever seen. I remember thinking that Jai-White was one of the only good things about it. But holy shit, this movie did more to send comic book fans back into the closet of shame than Roger Corman could have ever dreamed.

    The only good thing to come out of the idea of Spawn were those really detailed action figures. I think that’s pretty much all that’s left of McFarlane’s empire.

  29. Vern before you dismiss Spawn the character altogether you might want to check out the animated series that came out on HBO. Much better and it also has the benefit of having Keith David voice Spawn.

  30. You know, it’s weird – I had a friend in L.A. who worked at a studio where they filmed MAD TV and parts of this and other flicks from the period (I got to walk around the Loveline set which they were still doing on MTV, but I didn’t get to see Adam or Dr. Drew, which I suppose is a pro and con at the same time). Anyway, I went to visit my friend for a weekend and it was really interesting to see how the “L.A. people who were in the know” responded to this flick. He had a poster of Spawn on his living room wall ALREADY – well before it had come out – and we went to see Jurassic Park 2, and when the Spawn trailer came up everybody in the audience clapped and cheered for the fucking TRAILER. Apparently it was a big deal and they were all looking forward to it. But the one I was excited for, nobody at all made a single sound, no one hand clapping or anything when that trailer ran. That movie was Face/Off. Later that summer, I saw ’em both, and you may be able to figure out which one I dug more. Or, I should say, which one I enjoyed at ALL. I always thought that was strange – especially when I called my buddy and we agreed that Spawn was Clownshit, but Face/Off was THE shit. Anyway, I guess I said all that so I can say this: you should review Face/Off. And The Killer. And Bullet in the Head. And. . .well, you get the idea. You’ve already taken care of Hard Boiled so rock on there, my good man –

  31. A.J….right on. A review of Face/Off would be the best birthday present ever. While he’s at it a Hellboy 2 review would rock as well. I’m surprised he hasn’t already done it considering his love for Blade 2. HB 2 is like a distant thematic cousin to it. Same director, same actor playing the villain, same character arc for the villain, same fate for female love interest, etc.

  32. Guillermo del Toro gave Vern positive press quotes for his first book so Vern won’t review any more of his movies because of his obligation to being as unbiased as possible. Same goes for David Gordon Green, which means we’ll never read Vern’s Pineapple Express review which is a great loss to our culture and history.

  33. Vern called Hellboy 2 a ‘mixed bag’ in an AICN talkback so there you go on that one.

  34. At first I was thinking that I kinda liked Spawn when it came out, but then I realized I was just thinking
    about the soundtrack, and I never actually saw the movie. I sorta wanted to see it, but couldn’t
    convince myself there wasn’t something better to do (like laundry, or see a good movie). The only thing I
    remember from the comic was at one point Spawn gets his face split in two (in some sort of fight, I believe)
    and sews it up with a tennis shoe string. That was fairly cool. Does that happen in the movie?

  35. 1997 – the year of ‘Batmen & Robin’ and ‘Spawn’ also the year to go back to being ashamed of admitting you read comic books. 1997 really sucked now that I think about it, just from those two alone.

    It’s only fitting that the comic book that is a shining example of everything wrong with (mainstream) comic books in the 1990s gets adapted as a movie that was a shining example of everything wrong with comic book adaptations (of the ’90s or any other era for that matter)
    -that said, ‘Spawn’ at least has a pace and moves along as where ‘The Spirit’ has no pace and goes no where so I’d have to give ‘Spawn’ the edge here

    Nothing much to say about the movie that hasn’t been said already. It’s a complete disaster and the fact that it came out like a month or two after ‘Robin’ makes it all the more easier to see why no producer in Hollywood or anyone in their right mind would want to touch another superhero project again. Also makes it a bit more understandable why Tom Rothman wanted to cut his losses by screwing Bryan Singer & his X-Men three years later.

    I’m a big CGI defender which makes me even less liked by my nerd breve-ran. I agree with Lucas’ notion that its just “…a different kind of fake”. I think there is some amazing stuff being done with CGI that some are blinded by the knee-jerk “It’s not practical!” attitude. Hell just two weeks ago I listened to a review of Transformers II by a guy I enjoy and he actually started going on this big rant about how they should have done all the effects practical. Which I think is a bit silly if you ask me. I listen to a commentary to ‘A Chinese Ghost Story’ by a guy like and when these horrible stop-motion zombies come out he starts praising their sheer shitiness as superior to CGI in ever way and goes on a big rant about this is in fact better than all the effects in ‘Jurassic Park’ or some shit because it’s ‘real’ and ‘you can touch it’ (note: no it’s fake and you can’t touch it, it’s not real). Of coarse these guys will bend over backwards to defend shit practical or ‘old school’ effects like those dogs in ‘Ghostbusters’. They look like shit (when they are running) and I guarantee you these would insist it’s the bee’s knees.

    Before someone jumps on me: I fucking love old school effects. I think Franic Ford Coppola’s ‘Bram Stoker’s Dracula’ is one of the most visually impressive films ever made just because they used old silent film techniques (I really wish more people would do this) and of coarse as a monster fan I love Harryhausen films and I’m a huge ‘Godzilla’ fan so I’m just fine with a guy in a suite. I’m just saying CGI is fine too.

    I say all this because in my quest to defend CGI from asshole/hypocrite/nit-picky nerds, they bring this film up and pretty much most/all my defense comments are null and void. This is one of those films that was made when CGI was starting to first get really big and everyone wanted to use it. Unfortunately not every one is a Spielberg and know how to use it. As a result this movie (and many would also use Stephen Sommer’s movies as well) is a poster child for everything that can go wrong with CGI. It is in no way realistic (ex: Jurassic Park). It is in no way fantastical (ex: stop motion). It is in no way fantastically fake for children’s sake (ex: Godzilla-type movies). It’s just really fucking bad and you can’t tell me Violator (the Clown monster) wouldn’t have looked better any worse than as a rod puppet (for proof see that year’s “Men In Black” climax where Will Smith fights a gigantic rod puppet). I also think to this day this movie is why both producers and fans fear the idea of special effects guys directing movies (Spaz Williams was a key figure on ‘Jurassic Park’ and many other revolutionary films and when Michael Bay made his crack about special effects guy not making the cut as directors I immediately thought of Williams.)

    So yeah thanks a lot ‘Spawn’ for giving those assholes all the ammo they will ever need in life.

    The cartoon is good. Well not the first season that is a shining example of everything wrong when cartoons try and be ‘mature’. The second season actually has some good stuff in it but season three is far superior and is actually legitimately good and engaging. It’s been years since I’ve seen the show so memory may be lying. But from memory I recommend season two and highly recommend three. I guess I should give those guys a shot again (well two and three because I really remember one sucking hard which is not shocking since McFarlane admitted in an interview that he used season one solely as a test to ‘see how I could go’ ie say ‘fuck’ and show ‘fucking’) Only thing I didn’t like about three was that it ended with a set up for a season four that never materialized for some reason.
    -McFarlane claims to have gotten a deal to make a season four but as I’m about ‘Spawn II’ below I’ll believe it when I see it

    responses to those up above:

    Christian Brimo
    Despite popular belief, McFarlane did not create Venom. He was already created when McFarlane came on board.

    RRA
    Yes McFarlane still blames every single last person on Earth except for himself for this movie being a giant pile.

    Brendan
    McFarlane has been trying for years to get a ‘Spawn II’ or rather reboot off the ground. Last I heard Sony had the rights. McFarlane says about once or every two years that it’s ‘going to happen’ and then not a single damned thing happens. He got really cocky like two/three years ago (after Sony got the rights I think) that it was going to happen because the superhero movies were very big commodity at that point. For the record he says his plan is to make it ‘like SE7EN’ and he wanted Spawn to be a supporting character with the two detective characters (only made a cameo in the movie) as the leads. Well that sounds interesting and an original take on these types of things. Too bad we’re never going to see that movie ever.

  36. But McFarlane is responsible for the Eddie Brock arc and for the character going from a villian to an anti-hero that for a time was more popular then Spider-Man. So yeah, he is the main creative voice for Venom as he appears in most media these days.
    For me that’s a hint at why Venom doesn’t work as a character in other forms outside of comics. McFarlane is a pretty shit story-teller. People can drone on and on about how Eddie Brock is a dark reflection of Pete and all that, but at the end of the day, what your left with is a story about a dick who gets the ability to be a super-dick. But Venom looks cool and appeals to the DARK, SUPER INTENSE sensibilities of twelve year olds who have yet to have their balls drop and learn about why vaginas are neat.

  37. geofferyjar, I got no issue with CGI as a tool for filmmakers to tell stories, but my problem is for when filmmakers use it in place of telling a story. With Star Wars, or the Mummy movies, or Van Helsing, I honestly thought that the scripts may be ten pages long, with those guys just deciding to have bright lights whiz by whenever they need the stories to start moving.
    And look, again I have no issue with CGI, but honestly I prefer practical. Not like those guys you cited above who strike me as being kind of crazy, but I do. For me what it comes down to is that when CGI looks bad it’s just awkward and stupid. When practical looks bad, it looks like shit, but there is an actual object there, and someone made it and put their heart into it and it’s there to see. There’s just more soul in it.

  38. They have about the same level of thought put into these two great characters, Clown and Chester. I like Chester better though because he farts less.

    Lines like this are why I come here.

    I remember liking the movie way back in 1997, though not ever to ever have seen it since. There are some good ideas in there; I loved the Faustian bargain and the heartbeat monitor thing. But I was seventeen and huffing glue so I probably would’ve liked anything.

    To give you an indication of how other people liked the movie, every year in my high school there was a Halloween assembly where people would go on stage a minute in their costumes and we’d cheer or clap or whatever. (It got us out of class, so despite it being pretty dumb, who’s going to complain?) You’d have a slutty girl as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, some weirdo dressed in corn stalks, and things like football players wearing cheerleader outfits, which always got cheap laughs.

    So this one kid gets up on stage, dressed like the Leguizamo character. Instead of the usual polite clapping or cheers or even laughs, everyone’s dead silent. You can hear a pin drop, which is difficult as it is in an auditorium filled with 400 teenagers, but this one kid dressed like something from SPAWN shut everyone up. I felt uncomfortable just being there.

    But then someone shouts to our teenage Clown from the audience: “YOU’RE A LOOOO-SER, A HA HA HA!” And suddenly everyone laughs their asses off. The kid dressed as Leguizamo went to a different school the next year.

    That’s how badly this thing was received.

  39. “75 feet of fried chicken skin”…

    Vern, you are a genius!!! This is why I will gladly buy your books!

  40. About the CGI/Practical debate: I’m not sure if a practical effect has automatically more soul and CGI artists don’t put their heart in what they do. I don’t wanna insult anyone, but most people who say this, have never tried to model and animate something on their computer. Trust me, even if you know what you are doing it’s a bitch and there is nothing more heartbreaking than spending days and nights on an objects, that looks like shit in the end.

  41. That Halloween assembly story is so sad. Spawn ruins lives I tell you.
    Poor kid.

    The tv show sounds mediocre so I wont bother with it.

  42. Brendan’s right, I never reviewed Hellboy 2 (or Pan’s Labyrinth for that matter) because I didn’t want to worry about catching myself being too nice to Del Toro or seeming like I was being too nice to him because I used his quote on my book. But I don’t want to ban the guy for life, I mean I like his movies so I should write about them. I don’t know, maybe I’ll rethink that policy some day.

    But yeah, I was a little disappointed with Hellboy 2, I had really high expectations. Some of it was a little too goofy for me, all that Men in Black shit about their job and that fuckin cheeseball from Family Guy doing the voice of the wacky ghost character and the way everybody turned on Hellboy for being a “freak,” some of that shit just didn’t work for me. But on the other hand it had a bunch of great things like that giant rock monster, the goblin double-amputee guy, the tooth fairies and of course the scene where he kills the plant god, which was beautiful. Also I did appreciate the Blade 2 parallels and the way whatsisdick’s character, like Nomak in Blade 2, actually has a legitimate point of view, he’s not evil.

    Compared to Spawn, Hellboy 2 is Goodfellas. Since I gave Spawn a second chance I promise I’ll give Hellboy 2 another one some day.

  43. Interesting enough, while I think that in perfect world Hellboy 2 would have been the highest grossing film of 08 and not The Dark Knight, I had pretty much the same problems with it, that you have just listed, Vern. The MIB-esque scenes, the paint by numbers he-tried-to-save-a-baby-but-they-all-just-saw-a-freak-trying-to-kill-it-moment and the voice of that ghostly guy. Although my problem was not WHO voiced him (I don’t watch Family Guy, so I didn’t recognize his voice), but more HOW he voiced him. It might be del Toro’s fault, because he wrote the dialogue, but I seriously don’t know ANY English speaking German who speaks in der stereotypical kind, you know, ver he is placing some deutsche vords in every few sentences. I thought this guy was supposed to be smart, but apparently my english is better than his! (Although I gotta admit that when he spoke full German sentences, they were much better than most of the gibberish that Hollywood uses as German. [“Stehenbleibt, Schweinehunds! Hör auf mir zu verlügen!”] That reminds me that I wanted to make a website with the most hilarious “German” soundbites of Hollywood movies. Whatever.)

  44. CJ you beat me to it. With the exception of TDK, HB 2 was my favorite film last year but even I know it isn’t perfect. I really wish Del Toro would have made an effort to make the human characters more then one dimensional cartoons. They’re so simple minded in their hatred for Hellboy that it becomes a little silly and unbelieveable after a while. Red and with a tail or not he obviously saved the day.

    That said I still had a funtime with the movie and Johann was actually my favorite character in the whole thing. Everything about him worked for me….design, voice work, the part he plays in the movie, the tiny bit of backstory he has about his wife setting him up for a third movie. To each his own though.

  45. I’ll accept he may well be a “douchebag” (I don’t like that term), I’ve certainly never found him overly endearing any time I’ve read or heard anything he has to say, but I don’t see how paying a lot of money for a baseball which became less valuable after he bought it makes McFarlane a “douche”. Maybe it’s because I’m English and don’t know much about Baseball but I don’t see what’s so reprehensible about that. Foolish, myopic, naive, over-entusiastic, yes; but not particularly unpleasant.

  46. Maybe I’m wrong, but it seemed like The Spirit was actually going for camp appeal. I think Spawn was actually trying to be a cool, dark comic book movie.

    I’m not saying The Spirit is a good movie, but I feel the entertainment value it was trying to deliver was all corny outdated Looney Tunes type stuff about people making cheesy puns, slapstick, people wearing silly costumes, purposeful over-acting, anvils falling on people etc.

  47. I agree that “The Spirit” was going for camp. It just didn’t work at all IMO, nor was it funny and didn’t mesh with the “Sin City” style. It’s precisely the kind of fiasco Hollywood execs would like to think they are too smart to make these days.

  48. Vern was born to review Del Toro´s films but he can´t because of his code of honour?? Its like that Jet Li movie where he refuses to fight but everyone in the audience is just waiting for him to kick some ass.

    Come on Vern, you admitted that your Transformers 2 review wasn´t fair but we still enjoyed it. Kick some ass Vern!!!

    But seriously. I hope you reconsider Vern. I respect your code of honour.

  49. Geoffreyjar, call me a 1997 apologist, it’ll always be my favorite movie year – we had two fucking INSANE sci-fi action movies that I can’t believe got made (Fifth Element, Starship Troopers), a faux-Bay film better than anything Bay has done(Con Air), and one of the best villain performances ever (Jon Voight in Anaconda). My aforementioned love of Good Burger and Romy and Michelle will probably get me kicked off this site, but I freaking LOVE both of those movies. Shit man, I even liked Titanic, though I might not admit that in public.

    Granted, there was alot of shit that year -The Lost World makes KOTCS look like Spielberg’s finest hour, I never understood why people liked MIB, both duelling volcano movies were disappointing, Speed 2 and Alien Resurrection are just as terrible and annoying as you’ve heard. I’m not gonna lump B&R in there, b/c i’ll defend it as campy fun all day long.

  50. I agree about HB2, enjoyed it, but very disappointed, might need to give it a rewatch at some point. Thought the plotting was very weak thougth. Why would you believe the bad guy’s threat that he would kill his sister when that would kill him?

  51. Oh that reminds me Vern, did you ever see Speed Racer? I’d love to read your review of it, it got (unfairly imo) trashed by many critics. It had a lot of faults and annoyance (Speed’s little brother, annoying as hell; Phantom meanace plot problems – it’s a kids film! Oh and the plot is about multinational companies rigging races, bwah?) but the visuals and action/race scenes were fantastic. I think the tone threw a lot of people off, but about half way through the tone just clicked for me and I was into it.

    Also I thought some of the plotting was a fantastic combination of visuals and storytelling. Cutting back and forth between the first race and Speed as a child with his brother, seeing his brother’s “ghost car” racing with him. Or later in the film with the bad guy telling Speed what’ll happen to him in the next race whilst we actually see it all happening. Very smart.

  52. Catch42 Vern already reviewed Speed Racer a while back. Here you go……. http://outlawvern.com/2008/05/14/speed-racer/

  53. neal2zod, your post made me realize, what kind of a crazy year in movies 1997 was. But you forgot Event Horizon, the one Paul W. S. Anderson movie, that even his haters seem to like, although it isn’t really THAT good, but still entertaining and surprisingly atmospheric.

  54. ‘Hellboy II’ was my arguably my most anticipated movie of last year. I’ve been a huge del Toro fan since I got to see a screener VHS of ‘Chronos’ when it was first relesed. Ever since then I actively sought out all his films and loved every single one of them. So of coarse I really liked the first ‘Hellboy’ despite the number of liberties it took with the source material that I also really like. I felt it had a lot of heart and had a very unique style to it that separated it from just about everything else made today. So I was pretty much bouncing off the damned walls for part II. I mean how could it possibly go wrong? I loved the director’s work, I loved the prior film, this time the director would have no interference from the suits and just be able to do whatever it is he wanted to do. Plus del Toro turned a chance to direct ‘I Am Legend’ and several other interesting projects to do this one, so that must mean this is going to be something special.

    To say I hated it, is a great understatement. With all the stories about how del Toro had complete control this time around has me really thinking about how beneficial it is to have assholes breathing down your neck sometimes. I enjoyed the humor that was present in the first one but part II just got too goddamned goofy for me and is ultimately the main thing that turned me off. There was also the overused angsty bullshit through out: “Waa nobody loves me even though I save them Waa. I am thoroughly convinced this has never been done one of these types of movies ever” I don’t know, maybe I was just bought the angst in the first one because I could relate to whole loosing a loved one, not getting the girl, working for an asshole but I couldn’t to the shit he was bitching about here. I mean I know what del Toro was going for but it just didn’t work for me. Everyone raved about the film’s bad guy, just like they raved about ‘Star Trek’s bad guy this year, but he didn’t do much for me and in my opinion they totally failed at the whole ‘he’s not a bad guy because you kind of agree with him.’ I mean he’s not a cluster fuck of a failure like ‘Star Trek’s Nero, but I failed to connect with him on any level even though I do agree he had a pretty damned good reason to be pissed off. Also for some reason I also hated the end and ultimate moral of the movie: Fuck everyone else and just cater to yourself. On the commentary track del Toro says the ending is suppose to mean Hellboy is telling both the human world and monster world to go fuck themselves and that his only allegiance is to his woman but even now I don’t see it that way. Even then del Toro talks through out the commentary that he wanted his hero to make a selfish choices because he’s sick and tired of all these superhero movies having the character conflicted but in the end always making the selfless choice (I guess he never saw ‘Spider-man 2’ or ‘Superman II’). I guess I’m an old fashioned moralistic kind of guy I don’t know but the ending really rubbed me the wrong way and pretty much sealed the deal on my thoughts on this film. So yeah to say I was disappointed was an understatement.

    -Sorry about that but that one still stings and been holding it in for a while. That said unlike 99% of internet nerds I’m not going to hold this against him and say that he sucks now and is the worst director known to man. (see: Sam Raimi)

    neal2zod:
    I was saying ’97 was more a failure as a comic book fan. As a movie fan that fact that it has ‘Starship Troopers’ (and to a lesser extent ‘Fifth Element’) makes it a winner by default…
    and I really liked ‘Men In Black’ and enjoyed ‘Lost World’

    Brendan:
    I will concede that it “seems” easier for a computer animator to make a character or something with “no soul”. But as the guys at Pixar and occasionally a special effects guy (like at Weta Digital on ‘Kong’) that CGI can be just as ‘soulful’ (or something) as practical. I will say that I am partially coming from an animation fan perspective where one will have to put with ‘old school’ assholes who insist: “Traditional animation has artists and computer animation has technicians.” They even stick their noses up at Pixar and insist it’s bottom of the barrel shit. For the record it should be said these guys don’t watch the movie or show or whatever and they only watch “the form” and whether it’s entertaining or not is beside the fact. So with that I think it’s a somewhat similar situation with special effect movies. As said it is a whole hell a lot easier it seems to make a souless piece of shit with CGI as with practical, even if it’s shit, you can (sometimes) see the craftsmanship within it. I will agree in the end I do prefer practical most of the time but I think CG has an awful lot of merit as well.

  55. Cheers Odo I didn’t see that one for some reason.

  56. I’ll say I actually got way more enjoyment out of The Spirit than I did out of Speed Racer. Both were trying to bring the dinkyness of cartoons into a live action form, and neither were great movies, but I think the only thing Speed Racer did better was to make it all colourful. I agree with Pacman’s earlier post that the Sin City look did not suit the campy cartoon tone of The Spirit. And the race sequences were better handled than any of the action in The Spirit. But when the point is to be corny, then action barely matters. Speed Racer had some good stuff. I liked John Goodman fighting ninjas ‘n stuff. But it was short on gags and went on way too long and had a complicated story about corporate espionage and the stock market that I’m pretty sure would go right over most kids’ heads.

    Anytime somebody attempts this whole live action cartoon thing, it is generally poorly received and I understand why. I thought Warren Beatty’s Dick Tracy and Altman’s Popeye also had a fair bit of amusement to them. I thought the first Scooby Doo movie was one of the better ones I’ve seen. I’ll admit that I love cartoons and so I probably have more of an appetite for this sort of thing than most people. But even I will admit that these live action cartoons are kinda flawed by definition. It’s enough of an uphill battle for these sketch comedians to try and fill up an entire movie with characters that really just belong in short comedy sketches. But trying to adapt three panel comics or short cartoons into feature films is just taking on the near impossible. Yet year after year somebody keeps trying to do it.

  57. Since it was mentioned above, and also people seem to be making requests, I’d like to nominate Event Horizon for a possible future review. That movie was cool, and remains the one movie I refuse to watch on my own. Because I’m a fucking pussy.

  58. Pacmanfever: I don’t think that paying a lot for an overvalued baseball necessarily *makes* one a douchebag, but it’s another symptom of his overall douchebaggery. Trying to screw Neil Gaiman over the rights to characters Gaiman created for him, that makes him a douchebag… in my opinion of course.

    I feel like, in comics, McFarlane was the Michael Bay of his era… lacking fundamental artistic skills, perpetuating bad cliches, condescending emphasis on the importance of visuals over a coherent story, outrageously self-important statements… I mean, he’s not Rob Liefeld (who roughly translates to the movie world as Uwe Boll) and maybe he volunteers with starving orphaned lepers in his free time, but from everything I know of the guy I’d say he comes off as pretty douchey.

  59. Yeah CJ, i totally noticed everyone LOVED Mortal Kombat when I was in high school (maybe b/c they were comparing it to Street Fighter), and then everyone loved Event Horizon, but then over the next few years someone christened Paul W.S. Anderson as the anti-christ. Something about stealing Resident Evil from Romero (b/c heaven forbid Romero not get a chance to make ANOTHER zombie movie). And then didn’t Harry say on AICN that Ridley Scott was gonna direct AVP from a James Cameron script, but FOX gave it to Anderson or some horseshit? Seriously, Harry?? That’s like saying “word on the street” is FOX turned down a JD Salinger script for Catcher in the Rye to be directed by Terrence Malick, and gave it to Michael Bay. Damn you FOX, blah blah.

    Anyways, EH was pretty decent, though I remember there being some out of place techno song with a Beastie Boy sample at the end, and Richard T. Jones suddenly became “wacky black guy” about halfway through.

    As for Hellboy II, I see your points Geoffrey, and it’s definitely flawed, but I loved it. The two selfish choices (made by Liz and Abe Sapien) really did work for me, and maybe b/c I didn’t hear the commentary I didn’t feel like Del Toro condoned or condemned the choices – it’s just what people do when blinded by love. Shit, I’ve made so many stupid choices for girls I can’t even begin to count them. I do love selfless choices made by heroes (T2, Dark Knight), but I do love fuck-the-world endings too (Escape from NY).

    I think one reason people loved the villain (besides agreeing with his motives) is because he’s actually got some odds stacked against him – the betrayal from his father/battle scene with the elves was a powerful, conflicting scene for me. Kinda like the scene in Cape Fear where you’re SORTA rooting for Max Cady when he gets jumped by the hired thugs. But I’m glad someone else hates Nero from Star Trek as much as me. What a fucking awful, inconsistent villain. Bana jumped around from acting like Khan in one scene to Ledger’s Joker in the next (“Hi Christopher!”), and I have no clue why people give him a pass.

  60. Because of this discussion I decided to look up what came out in 1997. Some other ones people like are Waiting For Guffman, Absolute Power, Donnie Brasco, Hard Eight, Lost Highway, Grosse Pointe Blank, Mimic, Money Talks (by “people like” I mean I like on that one), L.A. Confidential, Ronin, Gattaca, Boogie Nights, Amistad and most importantly Jackie Brown, Fire Down Below and Double Team.

    I don’t know, I love Starship Troopers, Face/Off and some of those other ones. I also enjoyed Jurassic Park 2: Revenge of Jurassic Park and Alien Resurrection so it’s not like I’m picky. But I’m not sure there’s enough classics there to overcome Batman and Robin and Spawn for best movie year ever. Jackie Brown helps tip the scales, but I don’t know.

    I’m more partial to ’98 which gave us Dark City, The Big Lebowski, Wild Things, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Out of Sight, The Mask of Zorro (sorry), Halloween H20, motherfuckin Blade, Knock Off, Rounders, Bride of Chucky, Happiness, Apt Pupil, Vampires, Belly, Babe 2: The Revenge of Babe, A Simple Plan… together powerful enough to make up for Armageddon and Patch Adams.

  61. I always think of 1984 as being a very good one, from a pop cultural point of view if nothing else. The Top 12 movies at the US Box Office that year were Beverly Hills Cop, Ghostbusters, Temple of Doom, Gremlins, The Karate Kid, Police Academy (come on, the first one is good and you all know it), Footloose, Romancing the Stone, Star Trek III, Splash, Purple Rain and Amadeus. I don’t like all of those movies, but I would say all of them have firmly ingrained themselves in popular culture over the years (with the possible exception of Star Trek III, but I dunno, I think you could make a case for that one). Further down the list you’ve got The Natural, Revenge of the Nerds, 2010, Bachelor Party, Red Dawn, The Terminator, All of Me, The Killing Fields, Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, The Gods Must Be Crazy, Starman, The Last Starfighter, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Missing in Action, Sixteen Candles and of course “the film of the book of the year” 1984. Again I don’t like all of these films, but I think they’re all pretty noteworthy.

  62. What about ’99? I think it’s far and away the best movie year of the modern era. Fight Club, Sixth Sense, The Matrix, American Beauty, Blair Witch Project, Payback, Deep Blue Sea, Three Kings, South Park: Bigger, Louder & Uncut, Being John Malkovich, Magnolia, Office Space, Run Lola Run, The Limey, American Movie, Sleepy Hollow, Election, Ravenous… That’s not even counting questionable but enjoyable/culty stuff like Phantom Menace, Galaxy Quest, Existenz, Eyes Wide Shut, and Lock Stock, nor animated movies that people love but I don’t give a shit about, like Toy Story 2, Princess Mononoke, and Iron Giant. I think that’s more than enough to make up for Baby Geniuses and The Haunting.

  63. Shit, and Dogma. You’d don’t get much more questionable/culty than that.

  64. neal2zod
    I guess I should specify and say it was HB’s choices that irked me. But Liz’s and especially Abe’s decision I saw where they were coming from and enjoyed that. To further specify, HB’s being angsty about nobody loving him this time around just made me hate him as I was unsympathetic with him. After all this is what he wanted, he wanted everyone to know he existed and then was bitchy and moany the rest of the film because nobody loves him. I pretty much feel he brought on himself and if the movie had made that a point, it’s his fault, then I would have sympathized with him more and accepted it. Instead the movie, and del Toro on the commentary confirms, treats it as this great injustice that HB made his bed and now he has to sleep in it.

    vern
    You forgot to mention James Cameron’s ‘Titanic’ also came out that year!

    well I liked it

  65. neal2zod
    I guess I should specify and say it was HB’s choices that irked me. But Liz’s and especially Abe’s decision I saw where they were coming from and enjoyed that. To further specify, HB’s being angsty about nobody loving him this time around just made me hate him as I was unsympathetic with him. After all this is what he wanted, he wanted everyone to know he existed and then was bitchy and moany the rest of the film because nobody loves him. I pretty much feel he brought on himself and if the movie had made that a point, it’s his fault, then I would have sympathized with him more and accepted it. Instead the movie, and del Toro on the commentary confirms, treats it as this great injustice that HB made his bed and now he has to sleep in it.

    vern
    You forgot to mention James Cameron’s ‘Titanic’ also came out that year!

    Well I liked it…

  66. 1998 was also the year of “Deep Rising”, a.k.a. the only film by Stephen Sommers, which not just seem to know that it is a B-Movie, but also is his most (and only) entertaining work so far! (I still got hopes on G.I. Joe)

  67. Oh yeah, without a doubt 1984 is the absolute BEST year for movies, but i was six at the time and barely counted myself as sentient. I caught all the ’84 classics years later on HBO; my folks didn’t even let me go to the theatre until ’86, when Star Trek IV and Karate Kid II blew my mind. I guess I have a soft spot for ’97 b/c i was just out of high school and feeling like an adult, and I could freely get into R rated movies, etc…

    ’99 was such a good year that Entertainment Weekly wrote a front-page article how it was a landmark year in cinema, citing Blair Witch, Matrix, Three Kings, Fight Club, Sixth Sense, and Malkovich as game-changers (which they were and kinda weren’t). But by that point I was knee-deep in film school so had to start looking at things with a critical/skeptical eye. Plus the internet showed up and you could find out the ending/production problems/test screenings etc.. of any movie you wanted to. And then pick apart a movie endlessly (which we obviously love) or listen to someone else pick apart your favorite movie. I guess what I’m saying is ’97 was the last year for me where I could just be a fan and not a fanboy, if that makes any sense.

    But more importantly – (here comes that picking apart) Vern liked The Lost World?!? Good Lord, I’d never have guessed. I know I’ve been hard on KOTCS in the other talkback, but I will say Indy 4 did have heart and a childlike joy(even if it didn’t have a point or a script…oooh burn!!!). Lost World was the coldest, most impersonal, mean-spirited, cynical movie of Spielberg’s career, and always felt he should have been apologizing for that one instead of Temple of Doom. Vern, I know you’re getting flooded with requests and you’re a busy man, but I’m excited for THAT review like a kid on Christmas morning.

  68. I’ll put in a vote for ’99. FIGHT CLUB and MAGNOLIA (one of my favorite movies) were pretty big steps forward for two brilliant filmakers.

  69. Vern — no need to apologize for digging Mask of Zorro or Money Talks. That kind of shit should be reserved for the AICN crowd, where a motherfucker gets attacked/put down/ridiculed for making the simple mistake of liking something that the other person doesn’t. I think it’s been made pretty clear that the Outlaw Vern crowd act rather civil when it comes to disagreements. Occasionally things looked like they were going in a AICN-type direction, but then cooler heads prevailed and things ended amicably. On the Internet, mind you!

    But yeah, Spawn sucked a big one.

  70. As long as we’re making requests….a double feature review of both Street Fighter movies would stop the space-time continuum with its awesomeness. Actually a review of any movie with JCVD or Chris klein would work. Maybe you could finish your review for Hard Target.

  71. Now that I think of it, the last 4 years of the 90’s were a pretty interesting time in movies. It may be because around then I started to seriously get into movies, began to hang out at the video store every day after school and locked myself with my best friend every few weekends into my basement, to watch a dozen of movies over the night, but I think most of the movies that left the biggest impression on me (may it be positive or negative) came out between 1996 and 99. They were my gateway drug, if you wanna call it that. From that point I went from the typical Blockbuster (which for any reason [ID4?] became then more and more loaded with special FX than EVER), to indepedent cinema, to foreign movies, to arthouse movies and from then to the classics.

  72. Yeah, it would be interesting to go back and watch the Jurassic Park movies again. I enjoyed them (well, not the third one very much) but on a much lower level than other Spielberg movies. I used to think of them as fun-but-not-great movies that overcame their overall dumbness by having some cool ideas and great setpieces. But some of these summer movies these days make me long for Jurassic Park like it was Jaws or something.

    Things I remember liking about Lost World: the whole last act with the t-rex loose in civilization, the macho hunters going after the dinosaurs, the creepy scene where the little dinosaurs surround the little girl on the beach, Pete Postlethwaite as a gay hunter, and hearing people confused and irate about Goldblum’s character having a black daughter.

  73. LOST WORLD is worthwhile.

  74. I also never understood what was supposed to be so terrible about Lost World. The stuff with the raptors in the tall grass was cool, and I love the part where the trailer is hanging over the cliff, particularly when Julianne Moore is lying face-first on the window and you can hear the glass crack almost musically beneath her. Yeah, it’s all just escapist fluff, but Spielberg’s skill with set-pieces is on full display. It beats the hell out of the third one any day.

  75. Yeah but what about a scene where the little girl beats the shit out of velociraptors with gymkata? C’mon guys, not saying Lost World is terrible but it certainly has way more terrible shit in it then other Spielberg movies.

  76. I thought LOST WORLD was pretty good. It had some great set-pieces. I guess by the time it came out everyone was pretty much sick of dinosaurs. Also, I hated the bit about Goldblum’s daughter taking on the raptors using the power of gymnastics. Maybe if they’d had an entire sporting team taking on the dinosaurs with the power of their respective sports, like BORN TO FIGHT meets JURASSIC PARK, it would have been cool, but as it stands it just seemed like some goofy GYMKATA shit.

    Also Vern, Emmerich’s GODZILLA also came out in ’98, so I’m not sure even the combined powers of the Coen Brothers and Blade can rescue us from that year.

  77. Christian Brimo

    July 16th, 2009 at 4:22 pm

    I had the same problems with Hellboy 2 that Vern had but I still enjoyed the hell out of it. There was so much craft and thought put into that. I mean the angel guy could have come from Pan’s Labyrinth and the Goblin Market was cool and Hellboy and Abe are just awesome characters. I didn’t think it was as good as Dark Knight because it didn’t aim as high but as a fantasy film it was pretty great

    and i LOVED LOVED LOVED Speed Racer. Vern I know you’re not a gamer but there’s a gamer term – Blue Skies – that fits perfectly. its all the 90s Sonic games with no angst or bullshit. just bright colors and things going fast. i dunno… it was just a joyous movie

  78. Did you guys know that Pete Postlethwaite’s character was supposed to be gay in The Lost World? I never really saw it until someone told me.

  79. Wait, so we’re saying random gymkata is a bad thing now?

  80. Thx for the thoughts, Vern. I’ve given Lost World several tries on DVD after the theatre, and I don’t know what it is – I just can’t get into it; it doesn’t click. I know “i can’t explain it” doesn’t cut it on this board, but it’s really weird how it fails to pull you in, especially after something as immersive as Jurassic Park (I’ve heard other people say this so I’m glad I’m not alone). I’ve disliked my share of Spielberg movies, but this is the only one that feels like it wasn’t directed by him.

    But besides that, I hated the fact that it’s a whole movie full of hunters carrying machine guns, yet zero dinos get shot. I hate that the good guys actually CAUSE most of the ruckus/damage by setting the dinos free, that Vince Vaughn has no personality, no character to play, and just disappears at the end. That the movie asks us to care about secondary characters only to kill them off in funny “oh snap!” visual punchlines. The “Quint” character is good in theory but laughably underdeveloped. The “snooty” villain is awful, the daughter character is blatantly a demographic marketing decision (“hmm…how can we get more black people to the theatre than last time?”). The end in San Diego is also weird and out of place – it’s not long enough to be a natural climax (a la King Kong), but it’s too long to be the “gotcha!” final battle (a la the Alien Queen and the power loader). Again, it’s strange how awkward the movie is.

    Majestyk and Vern did point out though there are some good setpieces – the cracking glass bit and the shot of the raptors in the tall grass are, dare I say, iconic. I also liked the sliding roof tiles and the Goldblum/door gag.

    But a movie needs to be more than setpieces and gags – ex)after the boat wrecks at the end, they find a disembodied hand still holding the steering wheel. But who killed the driver? The T. Rex? How did it get out of the cargo bay and fit through a tiny door then? It doesn’t matter! It’s just a visual gag that looks cool, we’ll come up with an explanation later. That’s some Michael Bay shit right there, not Spielberg.

  81. Random gymkata can make a movie entertaining but not actually good. And Spielberg lost any right to “Not good but fun” style of movie making after two movies into his career. He jus can’t pull that kind of shit and expect it to fly.

  82. I don’t think it’s much different than the sudden bouts of wackiness Spielberg has injected into his movies since at least 1941, where this instinct for slapstick was given free rein over the whole film. This is a guy who’s made movies with drunken aliens, monkey spies, and robotic Chris Rocks. I’d say random gymkata is pretty par for the course.

    One thing I do love about Jeff Goldblum’s daughter being in the movie is that they actually let Vince Vaughn say what the audience was thinking instead of pretending that we’re all so PC that we can see a Jewish guy with a black daughter and not wonder what’s up.

    Anyway, clearly it’s not a great movie, but I didn’t think the first one was either, aside from the still-impressive special effects, and the second one just felt like more of the same to me. Whoever said that they needed to machine-gun some fucking dinos was dead on, though. They’re not ACTUALLY endangered, Stephen. You can waste a couple, it’s okay.

  83. I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that some or all of Spielberg’s adopted children are black, and if so that would be the reason for Goldblum’s daughter, not demographics. But also it makes you wonder even more why he’d put his name on a movie with the Bamboozledbots in it.

    Man, I gotta watch those dino movies again.

  84. i love the turn this comments section has taken. looks like you need a full on message board Vern. haha.
    love bullshitting about the 90’s.

  85. Hey guys I also just realized that motherfucking ‘Pokemon: The First Movie” was released in 1999 as well!

    Well shit we’re just disagreeing all over the place now aren’t we?

    I just recently got done re-watching the ‘Jurassic Park’ trilogy with my nephew. I was the prime age to see the original when it first came out and I was awe of it and fell in love with it. Sure taking off the nostalgia glasses reveals a good amount of flaws I either ignored or was unaware of but even then I still had a hell of a time re-watching them and it was augmented by the fact that this was the first time my nephew was seeing them. Even with all these other big special effects films he saw he was still loving them. So I’ll admit up front that I’m the wrong person to ask (you didn’t but oh well) about the first film. Those nostalgia glasses on tight.

    ‘The Lost World’ I don’t have the nostalgia glasses for though. I feel it isn’t as good a movie as the first one was but I think it’s just as fun. I do feel the pacing the superior in this one than the other two. The action was top notch and I liked all the characters so for me it was all good. As for the child actor, I thought it was refreshing to see someone who wasn’t white in a big movie like this (and wasn’t playing a stereotype). So I liked that and encourage it.

    The series was always firmly a cheesy B-movie but with polishing t make you think it wasn’t (people will argue against that for 2 though) but ‘Jurassic Park III’ revels in it’s B-movie roots. It’s a cheeseball B-flick and it knows it and it loves being it. So with that I think it goes down to whether or not you decide to go along for the ride or not. This is a movie where nobody seems to notice that a gigantic dinosaur is stalking them and as a result is always able to get the jump on them. This is a movie where they play the movie’s theme song every single god damned time there’s a ‘feel good’ moment. This is a movie with a “lovable” kid character who is able to survive in the wilderness with giant dinosaurs (‘Aliens’ Newt syndrome). This is a movie where a divorced couple gets back together because of this wonderful adventure they just had (‘Twister’ syndrome). But most importantly this is a movie where a Raptor up and talks. Like I said, you either go along for the ride or you don’t (Michael Bay syndrome).

    One thing I really like about the ‘Jurassic Park’ films is that the characters actually grow throughout the series which is a rarity. Dr. Grant & Dr. Maclom are different characters in the sequels they appear in and not that lazy writing sort of way where the writer just rewrites them to fit the script but instead the events they lived through have changed them.

    So that’s my take: I wish more movies would cast non-Caucasians and more series/franchises would have characters that ‘grow’ and even if the first ‘Pokemon’ movie isn’t as good as the third, fifth & ninth one it deserves some notice for getting the ball rolling and having a massively hilarious hypocritical moral(s) that makes it all the more fun.

  86. I agree that Jurassic Parl 3 loves to be a cheeseball flick. It’s fast moving come-on-let’s-have-some-fun-and-put-them-into-one-crazy-situation-after-another attitude was always what I liked the most about it. The first two movies tried so hard to be serious, with all their scientific exposition and shit, but part 3 was just “here are the Dinosaurs, let’s entertain the audience”.

  87. Now, I love watching Lost World, but it’s so bad at points that I honestly think Spielberg was having a laugh at how stupid he could make it and still have people buy into the fantasy. I mean, the big dino-lassoing sequence ranks among the silliest things I’ve ever seen on-screen. The guy who’s supposed to be on gaurd for Peter Stormare’s character while he “takes a leak”… away from the party… on a dinosaur infested island… and then the guy can’t hear because he’s… listening to a fucking walkman too loud?!? Come on, that’s just goofy. Random guy screaming and getting stepped on and then sticking to the dino’s foot? Guy running basically INTO a dino’s mouth because he sees a snake next to him? There’s no way that shit is meant to be taken seriously. Hell, casting Jeff Goldblum as the central character should have been enough to tell you the movie’s intended as parody, but if that doesn’t do it the gloriously “Godzilla” slapstick at the end should confirm it.

    That having been said, although I truly truly do think its a parody, it does have some great action sequences, most notably the trailer/cliff sequence which I think ranks among Speilberg’s best. On the other hand, the movie does have weird pacing issues and is absolutely swarming with disposable and underdeveloped characters. And its ludicrous point that we should “just trust in nature” and let the dinos be (wha? Having living Dinos in the world is about as unnatural as it comes) is pretty frustrating. On the other hand, it may be part of the joke. Are we really supposed to be on Vince Vaugn’s side? Even though he flips out about the idea that the corporate types are “interfering /exploiting with nature” he insists on fixing the baby Rex’s leg, and in the process gets on guy killed and everyone else stranded. Oh, and he doesn’t like the dinos in cages, so he lets them loose to run amok in the camp, pretty likely killing more people and again, stranding everyone else. He’s pretty much responsible for every death in the movie, and completely unapologetic about it. I’m a fairly big eco-nut but even I think his point is ridiculous and embarassing, which makes me wonder if it’s actually intentionally an over-the-top parody that the movie pretends to support his cause.

  88. My favourite silly part of The Lost World has always been, when the T-Rex parents eat the guy from The West Wing and then just leave, with the explaination that they aren’t hungry anymore. TWO FUCKING BIG DINOSAURS share ONE MAN with each other and don’t want more? Come on.

  89. Anyone have any information on the Michael Jai White movie called Blood and Bone with Kimbo slice? I just heard about it and it’s a low budget movie but it doesn’t look all that bad. Here’s the trailer-http://irc.lv/video?id=vIZl4I11GHQE .

  90. Lamont Cranston

    July 20th, 2009 at 11:36 am

    “It’s obvious that some asshole liked to draw capes, chains, muscles and Spider-man masks and based his “story” and “characters” around those fetishes.”
    That would be Todd McFarlane

  91. I remember seeing it at the Premiere at Fantasia in Montreal. Before the movie i won a
    Spawn bundle including: movie CD soundtrack, movie poster, Spawn collectible ring
    and a t-shirt. After the movie I threw all that shit in the garbage.

  92. That’s too bad because I think any man or woman would be proud to wear the Spawn collectible ring as an engagement or wedding ring. Especially if they got the t-shirt also.

  93. is there any character from any medium more prototypical 90’s than Spawn? I mean really…

  94. I love shit from the 90’s that tries to be HARDCORE and EXTREME!

    it’s just so….cute

  95. ya know Vern, you saying that it’s weird how much things have changed since 1997 even though it doesn’t feel that long ago is how I feel about the early 2000’s

    I remember them so well but when you take a close look, Jesus, it was a whole other world

    and that the thing, in the modern day things change at a faster and faster rate as time goes on, at this rate God only knows what the 2020’s will be like

  96. You’re just young, Griff. This is your first time really being conscious of what a decade feels like, and you seem to be going through some kind of quarter-life crisis about it. I’m 35, and I’ve actually been lamenting the fact that we’ve reached some kind of cultural plateau. Compare the 70s to the 80s to the 90s. Can you really tell me that there’s that much difference between 2003 and now? Shit feels exactly the same to me. Same music, same movies, same problems. Just louder and more.

  97. it’s true, it wasn’t too long ago that I couldn’t remember a decade back clearly, if at all, but now I can remember a decade ago and beyond clearly and it’s a new, strange experience for me

    but I maintain that things have changed a lot since 2003, that was pre-Twitter, pre-Facebook, pre-Bieber, pre-Kanye, pre-Lady Gaga, pre-Dubstep, pre-Obama, pre-economic collapse, the whole Hipster culture was just getting started, that was the start of the Iraq war, the height of the Bush years, I could go on…

  98. I mean just take a look at this guy and tell me he doesn’t look retro, this is from 2003 (I had a shirt kind of like that back then)

  99. I remember feeling that “we” hadn’t moved on much culturally since the 90s for years and years, but now everything from that decade all the way up to 1999 feels pretty distinct, but I don’t really see much as being “so noughties!” yet, at least not after the first couple of years. The wave of Ibiza-tinged dance pop/melodic trance/whatever it was that dominated the UK charts around 2000 is the only major thing that seems like it’s almost from another world to me now. I’m aware that’s a very personal thing though, and I’m sure it will all fall into place for me at some point.

  100. I remember going to a midnight showing of this and having that “oh shit this is going to suck” feeling as soon as the title credits started. I had no idea the credits would actually look better than 90% of the rest of the film.

  101. grimgrinningchris

    August 27th, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    Funny this topic should pop up for discussion again now since I just re watched it (or attempted to) over the weekend.
    God, is it ever atrocious though. The devil (Malbolgia, was it?) looking not just like a video game cutscene, but like a video game cutscene from one of those “100 GAMES!” software packs you get at Target for $9.99. Gage Creed in his last “cute kid” role (though no talk of penises or vaginas), Leguizamo at his most grating, a script that jumps around and makes no sense. White’s line reading in general but in particular the two seconds it took him to agree to the devil’s pact and the line “anything fo Wanda!” Just just…ugh! This is actually far worse than Batman & Robin. At least that one has an overall sense of fun, silly absurdity and (even though they’re terrible and all fall flat) the jokes make sense in the context of the movie’s tone. This one takes itself so deadly serious, has no idea that its retarded and that makes the “comic relief” from the Clown completely out of place.

  102. I think considering the discussion above, this video is appropriate. REMEMBER 2002: http://youtu.be/bORRM0LNa6s

    And just because: REMEMBER 1999 http://youtu.be/1glM0LgjCOY

  103. I guess I should have posted REMEMBER 1997 too, considering that it’s the year when SPAWN came out http://youtu.be/AFtmGwxbIq0

  104. Speaking of SPAWN, Todd McFarlane is still “developing” his reboot.

    Yawn.

  105. Yeah, but this time “Lots of a-list stars want to be in it” and “It’s totally shooting next year”!

    I don’t believe it, till it’s in theatres (or home video).

  106. HAHAHAHAHA, that’s never gonna happen in a million years

    a new SPAWN movie is about as likely as a Rob Liefeld movie

  107. Never say never,Griff. Since the casting of Affleck as Batman, who knows what crazy shit Hollywood will come up with next..?

  108. Yeah, I mean, before you know it they cast Bradley Cooper as the voice of Rocket Raccoon! Image that!

  109. yeah, but a new SPAWN movie!? come oooooooooon

    how many people even remember that character or who Todd McFarlane is? (is his action figure company even still around?)

  110. With Batman, the RAMBO TV series and the role of Felix Leiter in the next Bond movie I doubt if Affleck has time to go to the bathroom the next 10 years, let alone starring in a SPAWN reboot.

  111. I´ve only read one issue of SPAWN and from what I remember it was pretty gruesome and violent. A hard R-rated comic book-movie would be a hard sell to movie studios controlled by fast food conglomerates with little interest in
    being close to the original material as they are of packing a theatre full of morons.

Leave a Reply





XHTML: You can use: <a href="" title=""> <img src=""> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <b> <i> <strike> <em> <strong>