Netflix User Rating:★★1/2
Director: Alex Proyas
Screenplay: David J. Schow and John Shirley
Based on the comic book “The Crow” by James O’Barr
Starring: Brandon Lee, Rochelle Davis, Ernie Hudson, and Michael Wincott
Rated R: 102 min
I wonder if James O’Barr was aware in the late 1980′s how big of an influence the his comic book The Crow would have on the future of teenage culture, film, and music. That’s not to say that his comic book was the only influencing factor. With the end of the cold war, the late eighties and early nineties was awash in dark comic books, serial killers, and industrial music. Why fear mutually assured destruction when the quiet guy next door was murdering young men and burying them beneath suburbia. From this quiet darkness sprung The Crow, a black and white revenge fantasy set in the decaying streets of Detroit and inspired by real life tragedy.
Comic books are not movies. What works on the printed page doesn’t always work on the silver screen. For what it is, the comic book “Crow” could never work on the big screen. There is no jeopardy, there’s nothing at stake, The Crow is a supernatural superman. An impervious ghost out to exact revenge on those who killed him and took the only thing he loves. There are moments of tenderness and sorrow, but never a sense that The Crow will do anything but kill the bad guys and walk off into the sunset.
At the time of it’s release the average moviegoer had no idea that The Crow was a comic book before it was a movie. For most people this was simply Brandon Lee’s final film, the film that killed him, but for me it was a chance to see one of my favorite comic books translated to the screen. The “average moviegoer” was entertained, I was disappointed. I shouldn’t have been.
The Crow is actually a pretty good movie. Taking the skeleton of the original story and adding a basic three act structure as well as a few artistic flourishes. The screenwriters manage to turn the character from whiney tortured soul, to a saves the day hero. Sure, they do it in the most hollywood of ways. Adding a Mr. Big style bad guy, and a cop who knows the “truth”, yet no one will listen to him. The character of Sherry is transformed from a young girl trapped in the modern American hell of Detroit, into a plucky self sufficient latchkey kid. All they needed was a dog named “Spaz” and the trifecta of hollywood wussification would be complete. What saves the film from being another hollywood turd is the supporting cast. Ernie Hudson, Michael Wincott, and Rochelle Davis all do a great job bringing their characters to life. While David Patrick Kelly as T-Bird brings a sense of shear terror to his death scene, and Brandon Lee’s Crow loves to make him squeal. It’s an amazing performance. The movie isn’t perfect. Due to Brandon Lee’s death during filming, some scenes had to be scrapped or replaced in order to finish the film. This leads to some very confusing moments in the final showdown with Top Dollar. Yet, considering everything the film had going against it, that they could end up with such a stylish, mostly coherent film is pretty amazing. I like it, I like it a lot.