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Movie Review: The Crow: City of Angels

The Crow: City of Angels is a wannabe doppelgänger of its older and more prominent sibling. In its quest to better itself, it only succeeds in being a lesser replicate of the cult film that started it all.

The problem that plagues sequels is their stubbornness to piggyback on their relative rather than demonstrate how they differ and can be successful in their own right. I’ve seen it too many times. I think we all have. Sequels are meant to build off the original, making additions and further insulating the piece while constituting itself as an individual feature. Too many times sequels have played their cards the same way as their predecessors did, formulating a creation that is as mindless as a clone. It only knows what it has been taught by its elder. It has no cognitive function or inner direction. It just follows the script.

This leaves a film or any art for that matter rehashing the footsteps of another, going through the paces with the lifelessness of a weathered doll. It’s stodgy. There are no wheels turning or current of energy flowing through it. It’s as animated as a mannequin, faceless and without an identity to distinguish it from all the others. It’s practically invisible at its own party because all of the guests that have been invited have naturally been attracted to the superior, The Crow, which has more energy and enthusiasm than his woebegone brother.

City of Angels is a prime example of why every promising film does not need a sequel regardless of the established fan base. Based off a plethora of examples, I think we’ve seen we can’t count on Hollywood to make sequels that do justice to the original work. Sadly, critical acclaim from sequels is not a certainty, no matter the sometimes glorified state the original finds itself. Sequels become remakes, the opposite of what a sequel should be.

The Crow didn’t need a remake and it didn’t need a sequel. As I hashed out in my review, The Crow has a unique aura surrounding it, even perusing the mystical but amorphous Crow. The lack of knowledge of the character at times worked in the film’s favor, spurring curiosity. City of Angels spurns all that with a new director who lacks the vision that Proyas had. It’s obvious this film is under the control of a different hand. This project’s brokenness is ubiquitous. The production is more depressing than the atmosphere. The acting, especially by the man beneath the spotlight, Vincent Perez, is a fresh serving of histrionics, quips and dialogue so malignant I feel I should be wearing a hazmat suit. It’s hard to find Perez culpable, however, given the character write-up.

The motif of the film overrides the players trying to carrying the film and with no calling to the audience, there’s little reason to stick with it or find any value in the banners it does manage to raise. It’s a message taken verbatim from the 1994 work, but with no new composition.

The bug that crawls all over this piece is the lack of productivity. Like the wheels turning on a bike with no chain or a car left in neutral on the plains of the Midwest, the vehicle is left stagnant, milling in the limited space it’s afforded and susceptible only to its own gravity. City of Angels weighs so little that gravity doesn’t have a reason to act upon it and so it’s left still on a remote campus.

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.  

90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (Captain America: Civil WarDeadpoolAvengers: Age of UltronThe AvengersThe Babadook)

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 FallenThe Cable GuyThe Cabin in the WoodsTears of the SunEdge of Tomorrow)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (The Running Man10 Cloverfield LaneCreedScouts Guide to the Zombie ApocalypseCrimson Peak)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (The CrowHardcore HenryBatman v Superman: Dawn of JusticePride and Prejudice and ZombiesThe Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (X-Men: ApocalypseD-Tox/Eye See YouConstantineRaceEverest)

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. (BloodsportWar, The Ridiculous 6The Lost BoysZombeavers)

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. (CenturionPlanet of the ApesStonadosRedemptionPride and Prejudice)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (Avalanche SharksCatwomanThe GunmanThe VisitThe Fantastic Four)

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 StonerThe Forbidden DimensionsCyborgOutcastSabotage)

My score for The Crow: City of Angels: 34.

A short review for a short film, it’s been a little too long since I’ve seen this to write a thorough piece, not that City of Angels deserved that anyway.

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Movie Review: The Crow

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.  

90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (DeadpoolAvengers: Age of UltronThe AvengersThe BabadookInterstellar)

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 FallenThe Cable GuyThe Cabin in the WoodsTears of the SunEdge of Tomorrow)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (The Running Man10 Cloverfield LaneCreedScouts Guide to the Zombie ApocalypseCrimson Peak)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (Hardcore HenryBatman v Superman: Dawn of JusticePride and Prejudice and ZombiesThe Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2Beasts of No Nation)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (D-Tox/Eye See YouConstantineRaceEverestHercules)

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 6The Lost BoysZombeaversCrank)

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. (CenturionPlanet of the ApesStonadosRedemptionPride and Prejudice)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (Avalanche SharksCatwomanThe GunmanThe VisitThe Fantastic Four)

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 StonerThe Forbidden DimensionsCyborgOutcastSabotage)

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.

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