• Tag Archives john leguizamo
  • Canister X Movie Review #123: Land of the Dead (2005)

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    Land of the Dead (2005)
    Written by George A. Romero
    Directed by George A. Romero
    Runtime 93 min.
    3 out of 5

    One day, they rose.
    The next, the world fell.
    Now, humanity barely survives.
    And the undead have gotten smarter.

    Zombies abound in this recent blockbuster by George A. Romero and, as always, the man who invented the zombie genre shows us he still has what it takes to turn out a good flick.

    Simon Baker does a great job playing the hard-edged-yet-soft-hearted hero, while John Leguizamo steals the show as a kind of crooked hero-turned-bad guy.

    What I enjoyed about this flick was the idea of a walled-in society, a city-turned-world of its own, with its own hierarchy, running down from rich to poor. I suppose that even if the dead walked the earth, we’d still have the same problems we have today with the rich getting richer and the poor poorer.

    Blood and guts fill the screen of this feature: graphic, wet and sloppy. There’s no shortage of stomach-turning moments here.

    I liked the idea of some of the zombies getting smarter instead of just roaming around looking for folks to eat, and the idea of them trying to regain their former humanity was well done. However, the “human-hearted” zombies also made the creatures feel a bit too human, for my taste, and the undead lost their edge as a result.

    The story was simple, but fun.

    Not a bad effort, this one.

  • Canister X Movie Review #68: Spawn (1997)

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    Spawn (1997)
    Written by Alan McElroy
    Directed by Mark A.Z. Dippé
    Runtime 96 min.
    3 out of 5

    Seasoned soldier Al Simmons is double-crossed by his boss, Jason Wynn, and is assassinated. Heading straight to Hell, Al cuts a deal with the devil and is sent back to Earth. The catch? It’s five years later and his beloved wife Wanda is married to his best friend. Worse, Al’s rethinking his vow to lead Hell’s war against Heaven. Endowed with the powers of a hellspawn, he not only looks terrible but is hounded by a demented and demonic clown and finds himself at a crossroads as to what to do with these new abilities. Deciding to take his fate into his own hands, Al begins to mark out his own path as Spawn.


    This movie is a CGI extravaganza unlike anything that had ever been seen in a superhero film at the time. Most of the effects are computer, and I mean com-put-er, but those were how effects looked back then so whatever.

    That stuff aside, the movie’s all right. They got Al’s origin right, but really seemed to tame down the gruesome exploits of a hellspawn for mainstream audiences. Realistically, a true Spawn film would be rated R and loaded with language and so much gore that even the most desensitized audiences would cringe.

    Michael Jai White as Spawn worked for me. He was tough, brooding, had the grumbly voice, and the dude knows how to fight! (He’s a real-life martial artist in several disciplines.)

    John Leguizamo as the Clown/Violator was awesome. He was disgusting, funny, rude and was a thorn in Al’s side right from the get-go.

    The story seemed more like an overview versus the thick of Spawn’s mythos. Spawn does have a dense mythology with a lot of players and it’s real hard to get all that into an hour-and-a-half movie. At the same time, they didn’t have a choice but to go short and sweet because Spawn—back then and outside of the comic book universe—was completely unknown. Even now, unless you’re a comic fan, not many people know who he is. Hard to convince a studio to green-light a long Spawn movie.

    On the plus side, this flick is intensely atmospheric and harkens back to Tim Burton’s Batman movies in a lot of ways. There is a sense of Spawn’s world throughout the film and not just, “Oh, this is happening in that city down the block.” Some of the fights were top notch, too, especially the Spawn vs Violator battle when the Clown first reveals his true form. This was new for comic book flicks at the time and should not go unappreciated.

    Maybe Spawn’ll get a second shot at the big screen? There have been rumors of that for years. You never know.