Incredibles 2 Review

It’s time to look at the second Incredibles film. It’s naturally been a long time since the first one so the question was really whether this sequel would go for nostalgia or just pick up where the first one left off. I think it did a good job of getting some nice nostalgia in the opening scene and then just going for the plot. Of course, you can do both and nostalgia is often a good thing, but with this method it’ll make watching both of them back to back very easy.

After the Incredibles save the day once more we find out that times have changed. Heroes are now illegal so helping save the day is considered a crime. It’s related to the whole vigilante argument. The heroes come in and save the day but usually with a lot of property damage of which they aren’t exactly held liable. Heroes must go underground or be arrested. Mr Incredible doesn’t like this and wants to keep on being a hero while Elastigirl believes that they have to follow the law.

Fortunately their debate is postponed when a rich guy named Winston shows up and declares that he will make heroes legal again. Of course, it’s going to be tricky to do so. First he thinks Elastigirl is the key as she can stop minor crimes and do so with no actual damage. He’ll even give her a camera so that the public can see how heroic she is. A new villain even shows up which is convenient for her. Maybe…too convenient. Is this guy hiding something?

With the way the plot is set up you can probably guess right away that something is shifty here. Still, while you may guess part of how this will go down, it may be difficult to guess it completely, at least for a little while. It’s a good plot set up so it definitely works well. I do think the film did a good job of making Winston fairly likable. He’s a rich guy who is actually using his profits for good. He’s a slick business man but one with morals. That’s always nice to see. His sister Evelyn is a genius and is the other half of how the two became so rich. She does tend to bring up how Mr Incredible used to overshadow Elastigirl quite a lot though even when the heroine tries to debunk it. I’m glad that Elastigirl didn’t fall for the bait each time.

Going back to the opening scene, it was definitely a solid way to start the film. Seeing the situation from this random kid’s perspective was pretty hype and worked to make the opening a little more suspenseful. It was also great to see the memory manipulator as it not only destroyed a possible romance plot before it even got started, but it felt like a homage to Men in Black. That’s definitely what you want to see.

Meanwhile the animation still looks pretty nice as always. The character costumes are cool and the battles are fun. I don’t really think the first film had any big fights since there were no other heroes so it was cool to see them here. Lucius did a good job in the house where it was basically just him against a bunch of opponents. His ice abilities are very useful for such confrontations and I think he could have easily claimed a full win if he had just been a little more careful in the matchup. The soundtrack is less impressive as I can’t recall any really memorable tunes, but it wasn’t bad.

Mr Incredible is good for the most part even if he does get pretty jealous of Elastigirl almost immediately. I would have thought he would be a better sport about the whole thing. I did agree with him on the moral debate of following a law though. They can’t just follow every law the way Elastigirl was saying they should. If a law is bad then it’s bad. You can’t quite follow it at that point. Still, Incredible did his best to look after the kids and did a good job there. He may not have done very well in the climax at times, (Losing in a battle of super strength to a random hero) but at the end of the day he did what he had to.

Meanwhile Elastigirl was good. She used her powers very strategically throughout the film. This is particularly evident when she has to stop a train as that is pretty tough for someone with her powers, but she is able to maneuver very well. Her fight scene against the guy with the mask was also pretty solid. I like how he would throw in cheap shots while they were running. It’s the kind of thing you would expect a villain to do.

Violet and Dash aren’t quite as solid. Considering that Violet knows about the memory manipulation I feel like she should have realized what was happening a lot sooner. It would have made more sense if she didn’t know that the heroes ever did that. Her barriers are handy though so I’d like to see her get in more fights. She just happened to fight someone that was a bad matchup for her. Portals are hard to defend against. Dash is still too young to be of much help in a fight which is a shame since his power is probably the best of the bunch. No way you should lose when you have super speed.

As expected, Jack Jack doesn’t add much to the plot as he is just a baby. Still, he could have been worse. At least he doesn’t get too many scenes to himself. Meanwhile, Lucius continues to excel and is certainly the best character in the film. He does a good job during the house fight where it was 1 vs around 6 and shows a lot of natural leadership skills. He’s definitely the kind of ally that you want on your team. He seems more skilled and competent than Mr Incredible if we’re being honest.

I do have some questions about the superheroes becoming illegal bit though. How are the heroes able to hide in plain sight so easily? Is this one of those laws that the government doesn’t really care about? Sort of a “look the other way” kind of deal because that’s the only way I can see them not arresting the heroes by now. Especially with how active they are. Maybe they would get fined the next time or something. It is taken to the extreme for humor of course like showing how they would rather the heroes not even try to stop the villains, but of course some media try to seriously make that case as well. The bottom line is that the citizens and government in these things don’t usually appreciate the danger of a super villain. It’s only once they blow up a city or something that they see why heroes are needed.

Overall, Incredibles 2 is definitely a fun sequel. It brings back everything you enjoyed about the first film and even manages to improve upon that. This is certainly a success in my book. While Mr Incredible himself may not be quite as impressive as he was in the first film, he’s still a fun lead at the very least. Hopefully by the third film he’ll be back to being the heroic lead that we’re used to seeing. If you haven’t seen this film yet then I’d say that it’s time to change that.

Overall 7/10


Wonder Woman (2017) Review

All right, it’s time to check out DC’s latest film in its big film continuity. It scored 2 mega hits with Man of Steel and Batman V Superman, but then delivered one of the worst films of all time in this genre with Suicide Squad. Clearly it’s been an all or nothing gamble thus far. Well, DC tried to stay with this motto for a while, but ultimately they had to cave in. Critics demolished their older films for being too serious so DC had to fall in line. This was their first attempt to make a film that’s more like a Marvel film with a large increase in humor and a lighter tone. It works to an extent and this film is fun, but a considerable step down from the first two. I’ve been a little cautious about this new tone as Justice League also looks like it’s going to be very jokey, but perhaps it’s good that they switched sooner rather than later. The dark tone worked surprisingly well for Batman V Superman, but typically it’s a recipe for disaster. This is the safer option for the series especially if they want the critics on their side. That being said, I hope we still get a lot of action.

The film starts off with a long prologue of Wonder Woman growing up on Paradise Island and deciding that she wants to be a warrior. She trains in secret and quickly grows to be the strongest on the island. One day, Steve Trevor crashes on the island along with a bunch of Germans so the Amazonian warriors are forced to fight back. They suffer many losses but drive back the intruders. Steve pleads his case to return to Europe to expose the German deeds and potentially end the war with a book that he has found and Wonder Woman decides to go with him. She believes that Ares is secretly behind this war and that destroying him will finally Make Humanity Great Again! Steve doesn’t believe her, but he now has a ticket to get off the island so he agrees to take her to Ares. Can the two of them stop the war?

There’s definitely a lot to say about a big film like this so I guess lets start with the positives. The big climax was pretty great. I had been worried that we wouldn’t have any real villains during the movie and it would just be Wonder Woman beating up helpless soldiers the whole time. Fortunately, we did get a big boss in the end. It should be obvious who the villain is, but I won’t say just in case. We got some tributes to Man of Steel with the imagery and seeing the super fight was intense. The speed and punches were at a high level and still show that DC has the best fights. Wonder Woman’s use of her lasso in the battle was great as well and her bracelets are definitely going to be very useful in future films.

Also, the film gets the sword out of the picture for the climax so Wonder Woman has to fight in hand to hand combat. I can safely say that this is how Wonder Woman should always be fighting. Hand to hand is just the most satisfying for fighters like her, Superman, and the other heavy hitters. It makes their strength feel more real. Now, you can make the case that there is a bit of power level fluctuations in this fight as WW’s opponent is initially much faster than her along with being much stronger as well but suddenly can’t dodge. We can chalk that up to arrogance on his part of just plot hax. Either way, the fight and visuals were on point so it’s not really a big deal.

Speaking of the visuals, those were definitely pretty solid. Wonder Woman’s lasso certainly glowed rather well and seeing it used in combat was fun. The video game esque combos that Wonder Woman got off it was certainly cool. The fiery landscape at the end was also very epic. DC seems to like it as we’ve now gotten this landscape for BVS, Wonder Woman, and it’s confirmed for Justice League as we see it in the trailer. It’s a great background so I wouldn’t mind if they used it for all future films. It just works really well.

Time to quickly mention a moment in the film that felt rather convenient. This was when Wonder Woman decided to raid the Amazonian armory and steal the artifacts. Why was there a random brick sticking out on the wall so she could grab it? I don’t get the purpose of that brick as it would just make stealing from the place a little easier. There were like 4 or 5 others that I saw as Wonder Woman crashed so maybe it was a design thing for the tower? It’s not like it mattered since she could climb it on her own, but I was a little puzzled.

One plot element that didn’t make sense as well in a more major way was how Paradise Island has no defenses. Apparently you can just wander near the barrier and walk right in. Once you’re through, then the illusion fades. If it’s that easy, I can’t believe that more people haven’t gotten through. So either the Amazons have been murdering everyone who’s gotten through (That wouldn’t be too hard to believe, but they acted as if a man hasn’t shown up in a long time) or they’ve just been lucky. Regardless, I think it would have made more sense to have had an actual physical barrier or gusts of wind that typically blow everyone else back. That way, Steve crashing there could still work since he would be going so fast that the winds couldn’t stop him.

Okay, time to talk about the iffy parts in the film. Roughly the first 100 minutes are pretty slow. I had my phone off and my watch is still broken so I couldn’t record the exact time, but it’s not a very exciting start. Wonder Woman training on the island isn’t exciting, but I suppose it’s necessary so the average viewer can get used to the character. As long as origin stories are done once and then never brought back again, then I’m okay with them. Every character has to go through the motions at some point although Hulk still did it best by just including it in the intro. That being said, most films counter this by starting off with a big action sequence. I feel like that would have been useful for this film. Have Wonder Woman start off with a cool fight in the present time as she beats up some super powered crooks or something and then have her reminisce about the good ole days.

Once Steve lands on the island, things go south. The film’s writing is particularly bad as we get very long flirting conversations. Since the Amazons haven’t seen a man in a while, the film plays up this angle extremely hard. It just keeps coming back and back over and over again. The whole boat ride is basically about this as well as Wonder Woman’s conversation with Steve while he was bathing. The film goes for some misdirects by having Steve misinterpret what’s happening half the time, but these scenes are just filler and not very well handled filler at that.

One plot I’ve never cared for much was the “I don’t know about human culture so I’m going to take everything literally and get into a bunch of crazy situations” trope. This one isn’t as exaggerated as other versions that I’ve seen through the years, but it is surprisingly high up. Wonder Woman doesn’t know that you can’t undress in public, but she’s read a lot of rather mature novels. She gets into a lot of trouble by waving her sword around and falling for Steve’s flirtations. I should mention that the romance is pretty bad as you’d expect. It was expected of course since Steve Rogers was about to get in the plane for the last time….I mean Steve Trevor. He got to have some fun before dying this way.

Another issue here is the supporting cast. Don’t bother to learn any of their names since they are complete throwaways. Steve figures that to break into Germany they’re going to need some men. So he picks up a drunk punching bag who used to be a sniper but is too traumatized to shoot anymore and is only good for singing. We get a liar whose whole strength is being charismatic, but there is never a chance to use this skill except for a drive through enemy territory where the villains are so inept that they let a guy in without a passport. Finally we have an Indian who is good at stealing cars and making smoke signals. These are not interesting characters nor are they good ones. The Indian is the only one who is somewhat tolerable as he doesn’t actually do anything…but then why is he in the film? Any scene with the singer is pretty bad and he really should have been cut out. The liar guy is also just bad as he’s only good for bringing us the beer scenes and we really didn’t even need those. The slow dance could be cut out as well.

I think it’s fair to say that the humor is also pretty bad. I suppose it’s a little better than Guardians as it’s handled with more tact and we don’t have a character like Drax running around, but it’s not really funny either. I can’t say that I really laughed at any of the scenes. The funniest moment of the film would probably be when Steve pretends that he can’t hear his boss and hangs up. I rather like that trope and it’s one that has lived through the test of time.

One problem that this film has to an extent comes back to the fact that there is no villain until the final 20-30 minutes. Because of that, most of the action scenes are of Wonder Woman beating up humans. It’s a slight problem because it makes the fights less exciting. For example, how engaged would you be if Superman breaks into an enemy base and beats up all of the minions? It’s just so easy that it’s not as exciting as it could be. It depends on your mileage as we did have a lot of people cheering in the theater as Wonder Woman took them down. The scene of her breaking a tower to stop a sniper got a lot of applause as well. At the same time, for me there is less enthusiasm because that’s just so easy for her. It’s why I was thrilled for the last fight because it meant that she could finally have a challenge. I think I’ve basically covered everything now.

Meanwhile, the Amazons better hope that they never have to fight a real opponent. Despite their tough talk and camaraderie they wouldn’t last very long against any army. Their island suffered losses to a very small battalion of German troops. What this effectively says is that any army could easily defeat them if they wished to do so. It seems like Wonder Woman is the only one with any actual super powers since she is the chosen one. The rest have to constantly keep their guard up or they’ll be shot.

The film is never boring though so that’s always a good thing. Even if the dialogue isn’t always my favorite, it doesn’t feel like the film ever slows down to a halt. Part of that is the novelty of finally having a Wonder Woman film and the other part is the visuals. It’s an entertaining film and it’s why I’d have greater hopes for a sequel since it would ideally take place in modern day. The old World War 1 days may be a better backdrop than the Jungle or the Wild West, but it’s still nowhere close to a nice high tech city.

One worrisome thing to keep in mind is that the film doesn’t explain why Wonder Woman abandoned humanity. We learn in Batman V Superman that she kind of grew bored of them and only came out of retirement on a whim. I was expecting the film to end with her being jaded with humanity and going back to the island, but I suppose a sequel would delve into that. The reason why I’d be worried about this is because I want her sequel to take place in the present. Hopefully they can just briefly mention it or make some kind of excuse for why nobody’s heard of her. I mean, she’s not exactly stealthy based on this film or even the ending where she jumps across buildings striking a battle pose. Something just doesn’t add up here.

As for the soundtrack, it’s definitely pretty sharp. There are a lot of fast paced rock themes that are fun to listen to. Wonder Woman’s signature tune plays a few times and the end credits theme of the film is good as well. Throughout the movie the soundtrack was consistently rapid which is certainly my style. DC’s been hitting it out of the park in this area for sure. Hopefully we’ll get some more epic tunes like this in Justice League.

I suppose we can’t end the review without talking about Etta Candy. Her role was a lot smaller than I had expected, but that’s fine. She was a reasonably good character and she took the situation in stride the whole time. Candy’s the kind of person who always makes for a good friend. I didn’t talk about Steve much either, but I wasn’t a fan. He’s basically your average Captain Kirk. He fights for what’s right and makes the tough calls, but always finds time to flirt now and again. Wonder Woman’s a great lead and certainly makes for a contrast to Batman and Superman as she murders everyone in her path. As a warrior that’s just how it goes and especially in war time. The first villain, Doctor Poison is basically just your average scientist so there’s not much to say about her. She came and went. Hopefully she would not return for a sequel since I want to stick to fighters who can fight back. Adding in Aresia to the 2nd film would make sense if you ask me. She would be a great opponent.

Overall, Wonder Woman is a good film. It has a pretty great climax and Wonder Woman herself is a good lead. The film tripped up a bit with the below average writing and supporting cast, but that wasn’t enough to destroy the film. There’s no after credits scene I’m afraid, but I suppose DC didn’t want people to claim they were copying Marvel. Hopefully Justice League has one though. If you haven’t seen it yet, then you should definitely check the film out. Low replay value is an issue with the film, but it’s not something that would affect you on a first viewing. Wonder Woman will certainly play a major role in upcoming films so you’ll want to see her origin first hand.

Overall 6/10

Batman vs Robin Review

DC has been spiraling downwards with their animated films for quite some time now. I still look at the Flashpoint Paradox as the beginning of the end as that’s when DC seemed to have decided that it was time to switch directions. As this film is the sequel to Son of Batman, I can’t say that I was too hopeful for it and it was basically what I had expected. More on what’s happened to DC in a little bit, but let’s go into the plot.

Batman and Robin take down a crook, but a new villain appears and destroys the guy first. This puts some tension between the dynamic duo and Robin decides that he can do well on his own. While Robin is being tempted by the darkness, Batman must work to try and make Gotham City a better place and find out what is up with the whole Court of Owls organization. Can he really find them and do they exist?

So, let’s talk about DC comics as a whole with their animated films. Originally, they were pretty incredible. We had the DCAU titles and solid stand alones like Superman Doomsday and the Batman/Superman series. The Justice League films were also fantastic. I’d say that Batman Year One is where DC slowly began to consider how things would play out if they went for a bit of a darker stretch. JL Doom was good, but not as good as the previous Justice League films and then we got The Dark Knight Returns films. The original comic wasn’t great so how could the film be? Then Superman Unbound came and that was probably the last really solid film before we entered the Flashpoint film and the New 52. JL War was actually decently good, but it should have been great. The film was already trying to push on with the excessive violence motive, which continued to plague all of the films, which came afterwards.

It’s no surprise that Batman vs Robin is also really violent and dark. Unnecessarily so, but it’s DC’s new MO. It’s too bad because they used to be leaps and bounds ahead of Marvel when it came to animation. Right now, Marvel has probably taken the lead when you compare the current films and shows for the two companies when it comes to animation. DC still has their other products like the Lego series and the new Batman Unlimited titles, which should be good. Unfortunately, all of their mainstream products are staying along the road of darkness and violence.

In Batman’s case though, it’s not entirely new. Even his comics have typically always been a little darker and grittier than the others. I’m a big fan of the character, but I can’t even think of the last time that I read a full comic from one of his mainstream titles because they all tend to be pretty intense. Especially New 52 and onwards. You also can’t blame DC from an economic stand point. Look at what Marvel did with Daredevil? DC probably saw the good reviews and decided that it was time to make things get more intense as well. I’m sure that you’ve heard about the Gods and Monsters movie that is accompanied with a show. Let’s face it…DC doesn’t seem to be changing their mind about where they’re going anytime soon, which is why it may be a good thing that they’re taking a break from adapting the classic arcs. I’d rather that they wait on the next Batman/Superman film until they start to make more tame epics like they used too.

Part of the reason why the Marvel Cinematic Universe succeeded is because it was so light. All of the main films were fairly cheerful with the exception of The Incredible Hulk, which still never got dark. Even Iron Man 3 and Age of Ultron, which seemed to be a little grim based on the first trailers still turned out to be the comedy action blend that Marvel has really been shredding the competition with. If you’re going to copy a competitor, copy what really made them a force to be reckoned with. If DC was able to emulate that style for their films, they would definitely be on the map by now.

So, aside from the constant stream of excessive violence in Batman vs Robin, the opening is pretty off putting as Robin deals with a psychotic criminal. Again, this guy is just added to remind us that Gotham City is a very bad place and that the team must go up against crazy people like this all the time. I still wonder, why would you live in Gotham? It’s apparently better to be homeless in Metropolis than rich in Gotham. At least you will have a Man of Steel to watch over you in the other place.

Another big negative was one that Terminator always managed to sidestep. There is animal violence in this film as Bruce Wayne shoots an owl…with a gun! Remember how Superman snapped Zod in Man of Steel to show that he wasn’t always perfect as Superman? DC must have loved that because they’re doing the same thing with Batman. Before he got the no killing and no guns policy, he actually used guns and looked for the people who murdered his parents for some time. He shoots an owl because he thinks that an Owl organization took them and it’s just really bad. For starters, this isn’t Batman and the whole point is that he trained himself to avenge them with justice. He didn’t go around as a kid looking for trouble and shooting animals.

I suspect that the Bruce Wayne subplot from the past was around for Oscar bait and to show fans how deep and moving this film was. It’ll likely work as flashbacks like this one typically seem to work quite well, but it definitely didn’t do any wonders for me. Bruce Wayne also looks bad in the present as he lets one of the Owls charm him for a while and there’s a reason why we don’t see his playboy side anymore, it simply doesn’t help his job aside from finding out intel. It’s just unnecessary.

The ending is also a big anticlimactic way to end it all. Ready for spoilers? Skip this paragraph if you don’t want to find out. Batman actually loses to Talon in the end after talking so much about how he was going to win. That was embarrassing and the film was really heavy handed with the Damian hype at that point. Robin was also losing, but Talon helped him with the kill and naturally, DC decided to make it a decently gruesome one. Off screen, but you definitely know what happened. What I can’t get over is the fact that Batman lost. He also lost to Damian earlier and said “Finish me” basically. Seriously, they made Batman look so weak during those moments.

Now, Batman didn’t look bad in all of his screen time. On the contrary, typically he was shown to be an excellent fighter as he overpowered many of the Owls while they were teaming up. Batman still is the world’s greatest hand to hand fighter, he just has a tendency to lose a lot and also forget that he wears his gadgets for a reason. What’s the point of a utility belt if you’re only going to use it on zombies right? Still, let’s take a break from the negatives to look at the big positive of the film.

You can find solace in the fact that the fight scenes here are animated very well. Batman’s fight against Talon looks similar to Captain America vs Winter Soldier and debatably better as the director added a lot more feints. Both opponents will keep pretending to throw a punch to make the other block and they do this until one of them finally panics and throws a punishing move that the other counters. It reminds me of a good SSB4 battle as it’s all very tactical. Batman definitely shows his mastery of hand to hand combat and Nightwing also looks quite good. The feats here are quite good as Batman definitely pushes himself to the peak of human perfection. We haven’t seen many Batman fights that were quite as good as these and DC essentially pushed the hand to hand fight scenes as far as they could go.

Nightwing was the best character in the film as he did a very good job of fighting the Owls and his twin staff fight style helped to differentiate him from the others. The film shows that he is naturally not quite as skilled as Batman and doesn’t fare as well, but I was satisfied with his performance over all. He definitely should have wrecked Robin when they fought, but it was basically his win as he had already stopped to gloat a little bit. He should have beaten Talon, but considering his numerous injuries at the time, I suppose that it was basically all right.

Talon’s an interesting villain and his design quite good. His fighting style and build are similar to that of Deathstroke’s, but he’s not the kind of guy to just run away. His origin story was there to show us that he already knew how to make the tough calls and now he is a pro at what he does. I have to question how he got good enough to be one of the best martial artists in the planet, but everyone has to start somewhere right? He was a fun villain to have and he gave us most of the best fight scenes in the film.

As for Robin, he’s still not one of my favorite characters. His fight between Batman was really his fault and there was not much of a reason for it. I suppose that Robin wanted to test his skills, but he still just let Talon get away. Batman’s defenses were sound and made sense so I was not on Robin’s side when the kid decided to get past them. Robin’s a good fighter and he shows signs of becoming a good character soon, but he’s still a little too arrogant and he got tempted by the darkness a little too easily. At least he made the right calls when necessary.

It’s pretty much a given that the animation is solid even when no fights are occurring. Everything is streamlined rather well and you can tell that this is a modern film right when you start. DC’s definitely been doing well in this department and I hope that they can keep up this level of quality. The voices are another story. Most of them are all right, but this is easily my least favorite Batman voice. He just sounds so…weak. Batman won’t be scaring any crooks with this voice and he just sounds nothing like Batman. I’m hoping that he gets a new voice for future Batman films.

One of the more powerful moments in the film was when Batman fought with the Owls (Talons I suppose, but I prefer to call them Owls) in the museum. That was when we found out that they were already effectively dead so it was all right to go all out. Batman held his own for quite a while, but the enemies could keep regenerating and they were able to fight at high speeds.They were a good challenge for the Dark Knight and I liked them as villains. They’re mindless, but powerful enemies. It’s safe to say that these guys would overwhelm Captain America pretty quickly.

I’ve just about wrapped up everything that there is to say about the film. It’s rather short as it’s barely over an hour, but that’s still enough time to fit in a lot of fights. The movie also adapts the famous moment where the Owls infiltrate the Batcave. This is an extremely loose adaption of the arc, but it still covered some of the main points, which is cool. If you ever wanted to see the real arc animated…time to take out your old comics once again!
Overall, Batman vs Robin is still in the new DC style of seeing how violent and dark their titles can be without crossing the line, which hurts the film a lot. The actual fight between Batman and Robin is fun even if you probably know who will come out on top. The Justice League are essentially referenced thanks to Alfred and Star Labs, but I wish that they hadn’t been since that means that Superman exists in this universe. I try to forget that since Superman should have been around to help at various points when the Talons invaded the cave. Ah well, guest stars can’t appear every time. The action segments were solid and Nightwing continues to remind me why he is the best Robin. If you don’t mind a decent amount of violence and intense themes, you can check this film out, but I’d recommend just watching Batman Sub Zero instead for a deep and emotional Batman film. Batman’s been getting a lot of films lately, maybe it’s time to go back to someone like Green Lantern or Superman. After all, the Man of Steel deserves his time in the spotlight.

Overall 4/10

Spawn Review

It’s time for a triple horror review on the blog. Not in one post of course, but I’ll be posting them consecutively as I get to work on the film backlog. The third film review isn’t technically horror, but it’s a tragedy, which shares many of the same qualities as a horror. Why not right? All right, back to Spawn! This is one of those films that had an incredible premise, an awesome poster, and yet you knew that it wouldn’t be a very good film. Probably not even a good one. Well, your fears were well founded as this title shows why it will always be known as one of the weaker superhero films.

Al worked as a hit man of sorts for a shady company. He took out threats to the country in secrecy. One day he finally realized just how much collateral damage he was dealing to the outside world during this chaos and decided to fight back. He told his boss that he would quit so the boss had his replacement shoot him with more holes than a chunk of Swiss Cheese. The joke was on the boss though as Al was sent back to Earth from Hell so that he could lead the demon’s army against Earth. No worries though, the demons will allow Al to get his vengeance first!

It’s hard to know where to start first for a film like this one so let’s just look at things from the demon’s point of view first. After all, his plan doesn’t make a great deal of sense. For starters, why did Al have to lose his memory of the deal that he made in Hell when he went back to Earth? If not for the clown, AKA, The Violator, he would not have known to lead the armies anyway. Al was incredibly mixed up for a great chunk of the film and it felt like the villains almost didn’t care. That was rather sloppy and if Al has retained his memories from the start, he may have stayed on the path of darkness. Their loss I suppose.

One of the big weaknesses of this film is the..crude humor! Trust me, that’s the last thing that you want to see in a super hero film that’s supposed to be really dark and gritty. A little crude humor doesn’t tend to phase me, but it was extremely over the top and very cringe worthy. The scene where the clown bites into a certain slice of pizza is really what did it for me and you really will feel like losing your lunch. If the film was trying to be original, it may have succeeded, but certainly not in a good way.

The clown is also an example of another poor character. All of his scenes are pretty bad and some of his lines are pretty terrible. His threats to Al may be pretty personal, but it just makes him a rather despicable villain, not a likable one. You will certainly be pulling for Spawn to take him down already. The Clown also isn’t an incredibly impressive fighter, it’s just that Spawn isn’t very strong here. He definitely has a lot of work to do if he wishes to master his abilities. I could have definitely preferred another sidekick to help Spawn instead of this guy.

Okay, let’s back up a bit and look at some of the film’s pros. Spawn is a pretty likable character. It’s good that he wanted to get out of the shady business and he ultimately decides to act in the name of justice over being an emissary from Hell. Given his circumstances, it certainly shows a lot of willpower. In the hands of a better writer, he could have been a great protagonist. As it stands, he was simply a good one. He did make all of the right choices after all. Spawn can be rather slow on the uptake and it takes him a very long time to even think of using some of his abilities, but he would likely have been much more powerful in the sequel. A shame that we’ll never get one for this film…..or not.

Another big positive is the soundtrack. It’s easily one of the greatest comic book soundtracks of all time. I definitely prefer the instrumental themes though since that’s where all of the real action is at. The rock/metal themes really get your heart pumping and you’ll be ready to see what kind of action scenes they throw at you. I haven’t heard a film with fight themes like this since Mortal Kombat and Man of Steel! (Man of Steel had one good battle theme anyway!)

I can’t really complain about the fights either. They holds up pretty well. Spawn’s fight with the Violator will remind you of Spidey’s recent clash against the Lizard in TASM while Spawn’s epic fight against the master demon is something that is very original. Most of the fight is in CGI, which actually works quite well since it looks like a video game. I was loving every second of that fight and Spawn definitely got some good durability feats as he was constantly slammed to the ground and kept on getting back up. He also used his spikes to impale dozens of villains at once, which is something that he’ll get better at as the years go forward. Even Spawn’s quick spar against his replacement is pretty intense. The fight reminded me of Resident Evil…only less graphically intense, which was neat. Spawn definitely knew what it was doing in the action category.

All righty, back to the negatives. So far, this probably sounds like a 5-6 right? Well, we’re bumping it down 2-3 spots from that so we need to figure out why. Wait for it….waiiiiit for it….Animal Violence. Talk about adding insult to injury right? A dog gets punches by the big villain and we see him limping in his next appearance. That’s simply inexcusable and you’ll want to exit the room right after this happens. It really had no place in the film and I don’t see why they would add this. It made things more personal of course, but how much more personal does this have to get before Spawn unlocks his true powers?

Beyond that, the film is pretty tame violence wise compared to what you may expect. Granted, they may have edited out some of the violence on TV, but usually the language is what gets hit the hardest. So, I didn’t find the violence to be that bad. There isn’t really any romance although one of the plots also seems a little crazy. So, Al’s wife moves on to his best friend after he vanished. Really? Sure, he may have been dead, but that’s an incredibly low blow and especially after she said that she would be with him forever. It’s why you’ve always got to be careful before you fall into the romance trap. I’m still glad that it didn’t get more screen time since that could have been dicey.

Another reason why this film simply wasn’t that good is some scenes can drag a bit. The main example of this is when Spawn first returns to the world. He can’t talk so we just see him crawling and walking around as he has no clue what he should do. It’s pretty painful to watch the scenes as the Clown gets to mess with him for a while. I want to see Spawn verbally debating the pros and cons of fighting with a neat cloak, not getting thrown into an alley to get some more sleep!

I think we’ve mostly established why this is a film of missed opportunities. One more thing that needs to be mentioned is the ally who lends his strength to Spawn. This guy pops up out of nowhere and he has some connection to Hell or Heaven. It’s all very vague and he silently threatens to kill Spawn at one point before just joining him into the fray. He looks decent when it comes down to a fight, but he’s also pretty old so he can’t last very long in the heat of battle. He got his moments I suppose, but he really needed some actual character. One minute he’s basically telling Spawn to let his revenge go and then encouraging him to tackle the human villain in the next scene.

Overall, Spawn is a dicey experience. Some scenes can certainly be funny and it actually does work as more of a comedy than a horror. That being said, it goes too far in too many different ways to really be a good film. The animal violence, crude humor, and unnecessary scenes/lines keep it from being the kind of film that you will want to rewatch. The costumes and effects are way ahead of its time, but a film can’t get a good score on good looks. If it could, then I’d expect TASM2 (Electro vs Spidey) to have better scores than most other films. The video game is probably much better than the film, but I can’t really vouch for that. Either way, this is a film that you will want to skip and you’ll be better off watching the first Ghost Rider. It really outranks this title in just about every way.

Overall 3/10