The Crow is a unique revenge tale that features a film noir original in its own right and a character whose mystique carries a certain extravagance despite a thin bedrock.
Sadly, The Crow is not known for these things, but for the accidental death of Bruce Lee’s only son, Brandon Lee, the film’s lead character. When I first watched this film, I saw its potential and at times, dark reverberations for this type of fantasy sketch. Then I discovered Lee’s unfortunate passing in a gun accident on set. Knowing someone died making this film adds a solemn morbidness to its pages and, whether meant to or not, it adds a nuance that perforates through each scene once you have that information at the back of your mind.
It was already a comic that perused the recesses of city crime and the vileness of humanity, the despair that follows and the mourning that ensues and the bitter hopelessness of it all. Like the film’s poster, which I believe is purposefully crafted, the Crow as a character serves as an angelic paradigm, but not one without scorn. He goes unnoticed for the majority of the film and few know that he ever existed, but the aftermath of his actions, those are evident. It is a film that’s contrast weighs partial to one side and begins to tilt back oh so slightly by the conclusion. We don’t feel comforted. We still feel fear, but we’re left with the suggestion that something or someone is looking out for the greater good. Unlike the comic book heroes we see popularized today, this one does not seek the spotlight. He’s not photographed for newspapers. He’s more myth than man. He is the Crow.
The visual tone and aesthetics add to this mirage, this obscurity, never showcasing where this story originates or who’s affected by it. It’s vagueness suggests a city, but the mindset of the characters we are introduced to advocate a worldview, not a perspective, almost a blind acceptance that this is just how it is. Everyone’s eyes appear to have turned inwards like a caged and battered dog afraid to ever leave the false comfort of his barriers. This aura fixates on the film’s scenery, which is incessantly derelict and showers a visual equivalent of an endlessly blaring bellow of a prison riot onto the screen. Both effective and efficient, this visual style allows for more character development and less background dissertation.
Removed from its impressive decorum and the myth of the Crow, Alex Proyas’ superhero installment doesn’t have the character writing it should nor does it take advantage of the said space its cinematographer gifts it. The Crow is a myth to everyone, including his audience. We’re shown his pain, what happened in the loft in which he and his fiancee are viciously murdered but he never puts it into words. The lines of dialogue that craft a superhero into who he is aren’t here. The mind of an artist and a playwright, Eric Draven is left to his theatrics and tour of vengeance, abandoned to his own devices rather than his own identity. This reincarnation of Draven isn’t Draven so much as his body is a vestiture for the Crow to do his dirty work. Draven’s character is swallowed up by the persona of the Crow, which would be akin to knowing Spider-Man but never knowing Peter Parker. The power and allure of Spider-Man is handicapped if we never know who’s behind the mask and that’s what we see here, a man who no doubt has an agenda and higher calling aside from this vigilante tirade, but a person we never know.
Brandon Lee’s performance is the best you can get from a character write-up I found to be lacking. He had talent and what he gives us here, albeit underscored, is worth remembering. Michael Wincott is, like every character in this story, left half buried, but serves as an odd enough persona to create intrigue. Even Ernie Hudson, from Ghostbusters fame, is just learning what’s going on when the work concludes.
Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.
80-89 It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (Olympus Has Fallen, The Cable Guy, The Cabin in the Woods, Tears of the Sun, Edge of Tomorrow)
60-69 It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (Hardcore Henry, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, Beasts of No Nation)
40-49 This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (War, The Ridiculous 6, The Lost Boys, Zombeavers, Crank)
30-39 Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (Centurion, Planet of the Apes, Stonados, Redemption, Pride and Prejudice)
0-19 Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (The Coed and the Zombie Stoner, The Forbidden Dimensions, Cyborg, Outcast, Sabotage)
My score for The Crow: 67.
The Crow is a film with impressive side dishes, but one that could have made a bigger splash had its main course, most notably its characters, been as thoroughly detailed as its decorum.