Spawn [1997]

Genre: Action, Horror
Adult, stylish, and more than a little mean, this full-length animated tale has one very strong thing going for it--it knows how to milk cool. The animation is superior to anything recently devoted to a superhero...or super antihero, in this case. Al Simmons was a government assassin before he was burned to death and sent to hell (plot summary's starting out nicely, isn't it?). After making a particularly bad deal with the devil--to lead Satan's dark armies in exchange for seeing his wife again--Spawn is let loose upon the world. He immediately whacks three mob hit men, making his presence known and getting himself into all sorts of trouble. Spawn is also visited by the Clown, an obese, disgusting Beatrice, guiding our third-degree-burned Dante through this hellish, topside world. There are other nasty characters, but in this first segment a very gratuitous inclusion of a child murderer goes too far for even this mature fare. Spawn isn't fun; there's very little joy in any of this. But the point isn't fun--it's brutal, adult-comic style. And there's plenty of it. --Keith Simanton

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