the crow | alex proyas | david j schow | john shirley | brandon lee | michael wincott | rochelle davis | based on | comic book | james o'barr | action | drama | fantasy | united states | ernie hudson | bai ling | sofia shinas | anna levine | david patrick kelly
Film: The Crow
Director: Alex Proyas
Writer: David J. Schow and John Shirley
Starring: Brandon Lee, Michael Wincott and Rochelle Davis
This was a film that I only remember when it came out because of the controversy of its star, Brandon Lee, passing away during the filming. I never actually saw this film until after college and I did enjoy it. I got the chance for my second viewing to be in the theater I’m a member at as part of their Summer of 1994 series. The synopsis is a man brutally murdered comes back to life as an undead avenger of his and his fiancée’s murder.
We start this film on Devil’s Night, which is an event in Detroit the day before Halloween. There are a ton of fires going on around the city, but we focus on an apartment that belongs to Eric Draven (Lee) and his fiancée Shelly (Sofia Shinas). They were supposed to be getting married on the following day, but they were attacked. Eric was thrown from their window, killing him. Shelly was raped and brutally beaten. Albrecht (Ernie Hudson) is there and he gets scolded by a detective for messing with his crime scene. On the way to the ambulance, a girl Sarah (Rochelle Davis) asks about the two who were attacked. She is quite close to them.
It then shifts a year into the future. We learn through some voice-over narration that the crow takes the souls to the land of the dead. If something really bad happens, it can return it to the body to get vengeance. That’s what happens here. Eric wakes up in his grave and returns to his apartment. He is quite upset about what has happened and decides to get his revenge.
Those that attacked him are led by T-Bird (David Patrick Kelly). Working with him are Skank (Angel David), Tin Tin (Laurence Mason) and Funboy (Michael Massee). Eric’s path starts with Tin Tin. It then leads him to Gideon (Jon Polito) and his pawn shop. When he blows it up, it draws the attention of Albrecht, who starts to look into the old case. On top of that, he also draws the attention of Top Dollar (Michael Wincott), Myca (Bai Ling) and Grange (Tony Todd). Top Dollar is actually T-Bird’s boss and doesn’t like what happened to Gideon’s. He also doesn’t like his men being picked off. Myca seems to know the lore about the crow and what is happening here, which means she might know of a way to stop him.
Something that I remembered from the first time I saw this film was that it really feels like a comic book movie. That makes sense as it was based off a strip as well as being expanded into much larger form there. I will admit, I give the film a pass for some of its CGI look at the city since it has its roots in comic books.
I do like the idea of this story. I know that crows are definitely birds that are associated with the underworld. There is a moment where Eric quotes Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven, which I thought was interesting. I know I’ve looked up what the difference is, but it is something that is escaping me while writing this. The lore that is used here that the crow can bring the soul back is good. The issue I had though was that I don’t like Eric being invincible. This does get resolved late in the film, but I think I would have liked this to be explored earlier on.
Since I’ve brought up how this is a comic book film, I love that they went rated R on this one. It is actually quite violent and I was down with that. The crime that is committed against Eric and Shelly is pretty heinous that the revenge he gets is quite justified. I like that he does mimic the same death with just different items. I almost would have liked to see that a bit more, but it does become problematic with some of the people he goes after.
I do have to admit something here though; I do feel that this film has some pacing issues. I think that the film is too long for one thing. There are a quite a few scenes of Eric just brooding about what happened to him. I don’t want all of them cut out, but we don’t need as many of them as we get. I think that actually really hurt the film for me. I don’t expect it to be all action all the time, but there had to be different things to do to break up the action if I’m perfectly honest. I do like how it ends and the stakes being raised for sure though.
Something that I didn’t have any issues with was the acting. Lee was really good here. He just had a good look about him and he really brought this character to life. I like the charisma that he had for sure. Davis was solid in her performance. She has a difficult role as she needs to act more adult, because her mother is an addict and she really has to take care of herself. I thought that she definitely played that pretty well. It was nice to see Hudson here. I thought he was good. Wincott, Ling, Kelly, Todd and the rest of the criminals I thought were all solid. Shinas has a minor role, but she was quite easy on the eyes. I would say that the rest of the cast did round out the film for what was needed.
To move next to the effects of the film, I have to say that they’re pretty hit or miss for me. The practical effects, like the blood and the deaths actually were good. I thought they looked pretty real which is all I can ask for. The problem comes from the CGI that is used. There are a few times that the crow was CGI and didn’t look good. I can’t fault it too much, but it did take me out at times. I won’t hold it against the movie the city being CGI, as it has a comic book feel. The only real issue is with the CGI fire. I’ve said it before, this is actually an issue we still see today. I do think the film was shot well, which is definitely a plus.
The last thing to cover would be the soundtrack, which I really liked. They did go heavy with the rock music and it fit. Eric was in a rock band before dying and I like that they embodied that. I also think it works because the city is dirty so it helps to establish that gritty feel.
Now with that said, this film I did really enjoy the first time I saw it, but I do think after this second viewing my rating is coming down a bit. It does do some good things. First being that it’s based off of a comic book, I like that they went with the hard R rating on this. The crime that starts this all is pretty heinous and makes the revenge work better for me. I like the lore that is used here, but I do think that they made Eric a bit too powerful for too long. The pacing of the film did have some issues for me, but I do like how things played out. There is just some filler that could be trimmed. The acting is good across the board, with a pretty solid cast. The practical effects of the film are good, but the CGI really isn’t. Soundtrack of the film was also good and definitely helped to build how the film needed to feel. I would say that this film is definitely worth a watch, especially if you are into comic book films. I do have to say that this is above average for me though.
My Rating: 7 out of 10