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SPAWN ($25) is one hell of a cool addition to New Line Home Video’s Platinum Series of DVDs. If you love the comic book, you are going to love the DVD. Executive producer Todd McFarlane’s involvement insures that the film version of SPAWN is faithful to the spirit of the comic book character that he created. However, McFarlane allows the necessary changes required for the character to move from the printed page to the motion picture screen. For those unfamiliar with the SPAWN mythology, the film tells the story of one Al Simmons (Michael Jai White), a CIA assassin, who is killed by his own people and goes to Hell after his death.

The demonic powers offer Simmons a deal, which will allow him to return to Earth and see Wanda (Theresa Randle), the woman he loves. In return for getting to see Wanda again, Simmons must agree to be a general in Hell’s army during the upcoming war against Heaven. Simmons takes the deal, but is returned to Earth five years after his death and with his physical features burnt beyond recognition. To make matters worse, Wanda is now married to his best friend and the mother of the friend’s child. Despite being tricked by the dark forces of Hell, Simmons soon discovers that as a General in Hell’s army he now has an array of supernatural powers. Another fly in the ointment for Spawn is a creature known as Clown (John Leguizamo). Clown, a demonic emissary dispatched to Earth to guide Spawn’s hellish destiny and set the demise of humanity in motion. Also added to the mix is the mysterious Cogliostro (Nicol Williamson), who also hopes to guide Spawn to an entirely different destiny. The cast of SPAWN also includes Martin Sheen, D.B. Sweeney, Mindy Clarke, Miko Hughes and Sydni Beaudoin.

New Line Home Video offers SPAWN in a terrific looking Letterboxed transfer that presents the film in its theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The Letterboxed transfer features the 16:9 anamorphic enhancement for wide screen televisions. While SPAWN is a purposely-dark looking film, Guillermo Navarro’s cinematography is rich and colorful. The transfer is faithful to his work and reproduces a well-defined image with highly saturated colors. MPEG-2 compression artifacts were seldom noticeable on this DVD.

SPAWN has a Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack that is in a word LOUD. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since SPAWN is an action oriented fantasy film. The mix has a lot of directional effects, deep bass and heavy-duty hard rock music. Other soundtrack options include a French language track, plus an audio commentary featuring director Mark AZ Dippé, producer Clint Goldman, visual effects supervisor Steve 'Spaz' Williams and Todd McFarlane. The commentary seems to be edited together effectively, giving one a good deal of information behind the production. Through his comments, one will find that McFarlane’s overwhelming exuberance for the project is nothing short of amazing. Subtitles are available on the DVD in English and French.

The DVDs excellent animated menus offer access to its extensive supplemental features. Most of the supplements are contained on the second side of the DVD. As supplement this Platinum Series DVD contains a "making of" featurette, a sketch gallery, scene to storyboard comparisons, two music videos (one hidden), a theatrical trailer and cast biographies.

SPAWN is another excellent example of New Line’s superior Platinum Series DVDs that take full advantage of the format’s capabilities and offer the kind of value that other companies should try to emulate. Recommended.





DVD reviews are Copyright © 1998 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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