Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Crow (Series)

The Crow (1994) * * *1/2

Cast: Brandon Lee, Ernie Hudson, Michael Wincott, David Patrick Kelly, Rochelle Davis, Angel David, Sofia Shinas, Tony Todd, Bai Ling

Directed By Alex Proyas

This was the infamous film Brandon Lee died on the set of, when a prop gun with a bullet jammed in the barrel killed Brandon Lee, causing speculation about a family curse. The Crow ultimately turned out to be the best movie of Lee’s short career mainly due to Director Alex Proyas’ excellent directing and moody atmosphere. Brandon Lee is also very good in the role, proving himself an actor while handling the action chores with effortless ease. Some will argue The Crow is merely a style over substance Death Wish clone and ultimately they would be right but Proyas keeps the pace fast, injects a lot of heart in the proceedings and gives us excellent villains (Wincott and Kelly are every bit as good as one can get in the villain stakes) Indeed The Crow is in fact a rare case of hype really living up to the reputation. The movie also has a stigma of Lee’s death hanging over it and ergo the film has more irony and power in some of the smaller scenes but Lee’s charisma and dispatching of the bad guys often seem poetic. The carnage level is ultimately high and the action sequences have a mean spirited kick to them that ultimately make this one of the best comic-book adaptations ever made. Interestingly enough The Crow would go on to draw comparisons to The Dark Knight years later. A series of sequels (sadly) came to surface but these all lack the atmosphere and mean spirited punch this one contains. Brandon Lee’s charismatic performance is ultimately what makes the difference.

The Crow:The City Of Angels (1996) *1/2

Cast: Vincent Perez, Mia Kirshner, Iggy Pop, Thomas Jane

Directed By Tim Pope

Murky and dull sequel finds Perez as the new Crow Avenger, this time back from the deep six to avenge his and his son’s murder. This time however the bad guy in question wants to be immortal or Satan or some other incoherent gibberish that the film never explains. The action sequences lack the violent poetry of the first installment, while lacking the swagger of most Death Wish clones, what makes matters worse is that Perez is not convincing whatsoever when it comes to the fight sequences and worst of all the film is a brainless rehash that fails to add anything new to the mix. The film looks ugly, as it is a grimy and ungainly in its dreadfully gaudy goth excess. Not even the always appealing Kirshner can bring any life to this stale exercise in tedium.

The Crow: Salvation (2000) *1/2

Cast: Eric Mabius, Kirsten Dunst, Fred Ward, William Atherton

Directed By Bahrat Nalluri

This time The Crow brings back wrongfully executed Mabius to get revenge on the corrupt cops that set him up for his date with sparky and also killed his girlfriend of course the rules all apply as do with sequels as this one is just as bad as the last one. One gives credit for at least trying a new concept but once again the movie stripped of its supernatural elements is just a sub-par Death Wish clone. Indeed without the anarchy craving bad guys with Satanist tendencies the film doesn’t even feel like a Crow movie so much as a remake of the Patrick Swayze yawner Ghost. The fight sequences are uninspired, the acting is bland and it’s blatantly obvious nobody was trying to take this movie to the limit and make something worth watching. The worst thing of all is Eric Mabius’ stiff acting which makes his unappealing hero whiny and hopelessly white-bread, as to make him completely unconvincing when he gets his vengeance, and even worse when he has to emote with the loved ones in his past life. Obviously that Salvation lacks the craftsmanship of the Brandon Lee original is expected, that it doesn’t even work as a half way decent Death Wish clone is ultimately what disappoints.

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