Furburt reviews: The Crow

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Furburt reviews: The Crow

Post by Furburt on Wed Oct 13, 2010 2:32 pm

And now, Furburt reviews :

The Crow is a 1994 film directed by Alex Proyas (Who directed the amazing Dark City and the stupefyingly bland I, Robot), loosely based on the popular comic book series. It stars Brandon Lee (son of Bruce), in what was, tragically, his final role before his accidental death on set. And it is tragic, because his performance is really what makes this movie.

Now, let's get this out of the way as soon as possible. This film is intended for goths.
If it wasn't already clear from the cover of the DVD, it will be when you watch it. It features Brandon Lee as Eric Draven (Get it? D-Raven? Oh, never mind), a sensitive, poetic and artistic musician who dresses like Jack Skellington, beating the ever-loving crap out of lots of muscly, idiotic jocks.

Ok, the film is more complex than that. Unlike a lot of other films aimed at a specific fan group mostly inhabited by teenagers (Step Up, Twilight), The Crow manages to shine despite its genre limitations, mainly due to its brilliant directing, great set design, evocative lead performance by Lee and being generally very stylish.

The story is nothing you haven't seen or at least heard of before. Eric Draven and his bride to be, Shelley, are murdered during a break-in by 4 thugs the night before Halloween, known as Devil's Night, typically famed for the huge rise in arson it brings. Shelley dies in intensive care, and Eric is thrown from his 6th floor apartment. The cop on the case, an old timer who was once a detective, but got busted down to a beat cop after nosing around too much in closed cases, wants to investigate further, but is forced not to by his superiors.
The opening is narrated by Sarah, a young teenage girl who is cared for by Shelley and Eric as her mother, Darla, is a negligent drug addict. She explains that when people die, a Crow comes and carries them to the next world. If the person who died has a great pain, then they cannot rest, and sometimes the Crow lets them come back to right their wrongs.

You can see where this is going. Sure enough, Eric rises from the grave, alive and well, a year later, on the same day, to exact revenge. Oh, did I mention he's essentially immortal?

So far, so standard revenge story, but what rises the Crow above the usual genre trash is the incredible style is uses in telling it. The city which the plot occurs is rainy, grimy, and dark, clearly influenced by graphic novels. It's closest to a modern day Bladerunner in its design. The city frames the mood perfectly, a pathetic fallacy to the dark tale.

The city itself, bathed in rain and grime

I must say it again, Brandon Lee is excellent in the role. He pulls off the tricky feat of making the character both sympathetic and threatening. He's constantly followed around by a crow, which protects him and gives him his power. This leads to some especially fun scenes where round after round is emptied into him, and he just takes it all and laughs, all the while quoting poetry and philosophising calmly.

I'm still not exactly sure why he dresses like that..

Sure, he's not the most subtle actor ever, one might even say he's hamming it up, but it fits the tone, and makes the character memorable and likable, rather than your standard forgettable hero. The supporting cast is good too, even if they're mostly playing stock characters. The main bad especially, played by Michael Wincott. You won't recognize the name, but you will recognize his distinctively hoarse and evil voice. Think Christopher Lambert in Highlander on 40 a day and you're close.

I don't think this guy could stop being creepy if he tried.

The film uses pretty much every cliche in the book. There's the dumb bad guy banter, the smooth, calculated villain running an army of unstable maniacs, the hard-assed superior detective who's always busting the cop below him, the flashbacks, the witty death soliloquies, it's all there. If you like your films original, you probably won't like this. If you're prepared to compromise on that and enjoy this movie for what it is, you'll find it's quite an entertaining and very well paced supernatural thriller.

Some of the obvious attempts to placate the goth fanbase can be somewhat obnoxious, sadly. The way the bad guys insult the cool and trendy band in the club they enter, the constant inclusion of music by The Cure, Nine Inch Nails, et al, and the mournful guitar that Eric noodles on the rooftop. It doesn't bother me so much, but if you don't particularly like goths, I'd advise you avoid this. I'm not going to recommend it to goths either, because if you are goth, you've most likely already seen The Crow, several times. It's as big in that scene as The Nightmare Before Christmas. However, it does have My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult performing live in it, so all is instantly forgiven!

Really, The Crow is a good blueprint for what Twilight should have been. An attempt to appeal to a specific social group, sure, but given a great director and letting him make it his own. The Crow is most definitely a film that's more than the sum of its parts, and at 100 minutes, it's given just enough time to get its fast paced story down, but not enough to become over indulgent. While it follows a fairly standard plot with no big surprises, it gives the audience what it wants and does it with panache. Avoid the sequels though, they're not even worth a pity buy. The 4th one is so bad it hurts, featuring Edward Furlong (Terminator 2, American History X) as perhaps the least threatening person ever.

Yes, seriously, that's what he looks like.

All in all, it's certainly worth a purchase. It won't make you think, throw up any huge emotions, or change the world, but it's an entertaining piece of pulp cinema, and whether you're a goth or not, it's very enjoyable, due mostly to the direction of Mr Proyas. He would later expand on his talent for hauntingly bleak cityscapes in the aforementioned Dark City, which I also urge you to see. The Crow isn't as good as that movie, but it's still enormously influential (The Matrix is one film that shows clear signs of The Crow in its many influences), and very watchable.

All criticism welcome, as long as it's reasonably polite.

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Re: Furburt reviews: The Crow

Post by Timotei on Wed Oct 13, 2010 7:04 pm

I had the opportunity to watch this last night on Starz.

Kinda makes me wish I did....

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Re: Furburt reviews: The Crow

Post by ItsAChiaotzu on Wed Oct 13, 2010 10:46 pm

Well laid out review, good use of pictures and very informative. Excellent review get's thumbs up from me.

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Re: Furburt reviews: The Crow

Post by Mr. Wiggles on Sat Jun 04, 2011 4:41 pm

I saw PayJ's Furburt reviews thread but am too young to understand it. So I went looking for a review.....

Found this. Got excited. Opened it. Got dissapointed.

See round here Krow is slang for ganja and not just any either. A bag of Krow is like the paraletic skunky fucked-up shit that imprisons you to the sofa....

Understand my misuderstanding...


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Re: Furburt reviews: The Crow

Post by zombie_fucker on Sun Jun 05, 2011 5:55 am

The Crow is a very good film. It sucked that Brandon Lee was killed while filming it.

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Re: Furburt reviews: The Crow

Post by MilkyFresh on Sun Jun 05, 2011 12:06 pm

I quite liked the Crow, and goths piss me the fuck off most of the time. Good movie. Good review.

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Re: Furburt reviews: The Crow

Post by Alkaline on Sun Jun 05, 2011 12:13 pm

The Crow ist krieg.

Seriously, that's honestly what I thought of his attire.

Edit: Also, Timotei and Chiaotzu.

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