|Category||Action||Theatrical Trailer(s)||Yes, 1|
|Year Released||1997||Commentary Tracks||None|
|Running Time||95 minutes||Other Extras||Featurette - "Todd Speaks" (20 mins)
Featurette - "Making of..." (8 mins)
Featurette - untitled (5 mins)
Cast & Crew Interviews
Cast & Crew Biographies
|Region||4||Director||Mark A. Z. Dippé|
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Michael Jai White
D. B. Sweeney
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||No||MPEG||5.1|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1||Dolby Digital||5.1|
|16x9 Enhancement||Yes||Soundtrack Languages||English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
English (MPEG 5.1)
|Theatrical Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
The movie opens with a prologue at an airport, where four men are killed by a way-cool rocket. We then go through some amazing titles, and the movie proper begins. We meet Al Simmons (Michael Jai White), a government killer who works for a mysterious organization called A6. Al's boss, Jason Wynn (Martin Sheen) is in league with the Devil via his representative on Earth, Clown (John Leguizamo).
Wynn is convinced by Clown to have Al killed, and Al goes up in a blaze of fire. Five years goes past and Al awakens, as Spawn. Al has been allowed to return to Earth to see his wife, Wanda (Theresa Randle) on the basis that he will lead the armies of Hell in a fight against Heaven in return for this. It is Clown's job to ensure that this happens as Spawn regains his awareness and learns about his powers. Mixed in with this is Cogliostro (Nicol Williamson) who is trying to stop Spawn from acceding to the Devil's plans. Spawn's superpowers involve a huge red cape which appears on demand, and his armour, which can be commanded to perform some pretty incredible things.
Rather than didactically continuing to reveal the plot, I will simply say that Spawn is a very very dark tale indeed, populated with evil, sinister characters with dubious motives, both living and dead. Clown is excellent in creating a macabre evil presence and Spawn himself has tremendous depth of character.
Spawn is a movie which has many dazzling visual effects, but fortunately, these are used to dramatically visualize the story without being a substitute for a good strong storyline or well-developed characters, which this movie also has in abundance.
The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced.
The transfer was razor sharp at all times. Shadow detail was superb with a great deal of detail to be seen in the dark areas of the picture, which is fortunate considering the frequent low level of lighting throughout this movie. No low level noise was present.
The colours were generally clear, and somewhat on the muted side except for well-lit sequences which exhibited brilliant colour saturation with never any trace of oversaturation or colour bleeding.
No MPEG artefacts were seen. Film-to-video artefacts were non-existent. Film artefacts were few and far between, commensurate with the recent vintage of this film.
Dialogue was generally clear except for Clown's dialogue which I found hard to understand, but this was more Clown's fault than the fault of the mix. A more significant problem is out-of-sync dialogue from 6:22 - 10:58. This is most of Chapter 4. Fortunately, the problem corrects itself.
The music adds enormously to the dark and grungy atmosphere of this movie, and was suitably strident in its nature. It was aggressively mixed throughout the soundfield.
The surround channels were heavily used for ambience, special effects and music. Frequent full-range signals emanated from the rear channels to draw you into the movie, especially with the supernatural and action sequences.
The .1 channel was used moderately for effects and music. I personally felt that a little more could have gone into the subwoofer channel to give some scenes more impact.
Unfortunately, the remainder of the extras are presented in MPEG 2.0 sound only, 4:3 windowboxed.
The video quality is excellent, and basically faultless.
The audio quality is very good with aggressive surround effects, but Clown is quite hard to hear which is a bit of a problem since he has a lot of important dialogue, and a small section of the movie is out of audio sync.
The extras are excellent, particularly the featurette with Todd McFarlane, and the only extra which would have been nice to have in addition to what has been provided would have been a director's commentary track.
© Michael Demtschyna
28th December 1998
|DVD||Pioneer DV-505, using S-Video output|
|Display||Loewe Art-95 95cm direct view CRT in 16:9 mode, via the S-Video input. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Audio Decoder||Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer|
|Speakers||Philips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Yamaha B100-115SE subwoofer|