Features Film Reviews

SECOND LOOK: The Crow

Written by Ariana Zink

Buildings burn, people die, but real love is a cult following. During the nineties, theaters near you saw a boost in live-action superhero/comic book adaptation films. At least, a surge from the eighties, most notable for where, in his quest for peace, Superman instead finds a franchise killer, and the true beginning of Batman. Among the surge was the 1994 neo-noir fantasy The Crow, where director Alex Proyas brings comic creator James O’Barr’s dark and twisted world to life. Much like the titular crow, rumors of a reboot have been lurking in the shadows of the internet for years. However, according to Indiewire, it seems former Game of Thrones actor Jason Momoa is already celebrating his new leading role. It’s not surprising, with darker reboots all the rage in Hollywood. But does The Crow need, or even deserve, a reboot?

The film opens with the grizzly murder of rock musician Eric Draven (Brandon Lee) and the gang rape/murder of his fiance Shelly. One year later, Draven crawls out of his grave thanks to a crow landing on his tombstone and giving him back his disgruntled soul. He finds he can heal quickly from any wound, and sets off with his trusty crow on his hunt for blood and vengeance. And that’s the story. It’s a fairly straightforward story that has a terrific and gripping set-up. As the film continues on, it loses steam when it decides to focus more on its underwhelming side characters. It’s hard to get attached to anyone when half the cast is on Draven’s hit list. It would’ve made more of an impact if the narrative focused squarely on Draven rapping on everyone’s chamber doors. Though the plot is not the real draw of the film.

That honor goes to the crow himself, Brandon Lee, for two reasons. One, unfortunately, is because his on-set death haunts every scene he’s in. And two, because Lee is a riot. He immerses himself into the role. His relish for his character’s torturous monologues before he unleashes hell is entertaining to watch. Lee makes Draven’s journey through the film compelling, and uses the film’s environment and tone to his advantage. His final scene is heartbreaking but comforting in a weird, twisted way. It’s a beautiful send-off of the character and the man behind him.

Lee’s performance, paired with The Crow visuals aesthetics, is what gives the film its cult classic tagline. Just the opening shot over Detroit, the use of shadows and fire, immediately establishes the movie’s tone. It’s dark; brutal; it’s your stereotypical Detroit. The special effects are definitely a product of the nineties, with the falling scenes being especially chuckle inducing. But it’s hard to fault it too harshly for that. Regardless, it’s easy to see where this film has made its mark on dark comic book adaptations today. Clearly someone on the hair and makeup crew for The Dark Knight saw this film and threw it on Heath Ledger‘s Joker. The Crow is a visually stimulating film that is a perfect time capsule of its time.

Which is exactly why The Crow should be left alone. The 1994 version is already a perfect version of itself. Whether Momoa or another actor shines as the new Eric Draven, Lee has cast a huge shadow over the role, both with his brilliant performance and tragic death. The only aspect that could be updated are the special effects, but better effects could deafen the original’s visual style and become more about the action and less about the emotion behind Draven’s journey. The Crow does not need to be brought back to life; it deserves to rest in peace.

Do you think The Crow needs a reboot? Let us know in the comments below, or send us a crow carrying your thoughts on  Twitter!

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Ariana Zink

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