The Crow ★★★★

They're all dead. They just don't know it yet.
-Eric Draven

The Crow is not an easy film to love and defend as great. Not because there's anything wrong with it, but because of the douchebags that praise the film for all the wrong reasons. They are the type of people that cause others to hate this film. They're also the type of people that make others think twice about praising the film in public for fear of being grouped in with them.

I'm talking about those Emo bastards that "love" the film because the character of Eric Draven is SO relatable to them. He witnesses his fiancée being gang raped, beaten to death and then he himself gets shot and thrown out of a 5th story window. I'm sorry you little Emo prick, but your teen angst bullshit is not relatable to this character. In fact as soon as it's discovered that he's engaged, all relatability should have ended right there. If you claim this is your favorite film, but the only thing you can contribute to a conversation about it is the fact that Brandon Lee died while making it, that doesn't make you "dark". It makes you a douchebag.

Then you have the assholes that thought dressing up as The Crow for Halloween in 1994 would be cool and original. Even though they would see a dozen other guys dressed up the same way at the same party, it wouldn't stop them from trying it again next year... and the year after that... and so on... until 2008. That's when these A-Holes started dressing up as Heath Ledger's Joker. Is it the tragedy of the actors' death that attracts them to the characters, or is it simply the fact that they're "cool" characters that have easily replicated costumes? Either way thank you for taking some of the fun out of loving this film. You bastards.

The film is based on a comic book that was created out of anger and frustration. Detroit native James O'Barr was an orphan who grew up in Foster Care. When he was 18 years old his fiancée was killed by a drunk driver. With no family support system and not knowing what to do, O'Barr ended up joining the Marines, when that didn't help, he created The Crow while stationed in Germany to vent out. He was also further inspired when he read about a young couple killed in Detroit over a $20 engagement ring. This helped fuel O'Barr's revenge fantasy even further.

Because the creation of the comic book was meant more as a cathartic experience it ended up sitting on a shelf for almost 8 years after it was finished. It was eventually given to an independent publisher and became an underground hit in 1989. The early 90s were of course plagued by Hollywood attempting to recreate the success of the 1989 Batman film by getting cheap licenses of lesser known comic books. This ended up giving us some truly awful comic book movies, but if Hollywood hadn't gone the cheap route we probably wouldn't have ended up with The Crow.

This was Alex Proyas' second feature film and still one of his best. The Crow, along with Dark City, are (to me) better films then his later big budget outings (I, Robot and Knowing). Here Proyas is able to create a stylized film on a modest budget that should seem dated now, but the visuals still stand up. Part of the reason is that the film employs washed out colors creating a very dark film that ends up blending in the special effects shots of the city perfectly with the practical shots. The contrast of having heightened color saturation in the flashbacks also adds a great deal to the overall look of the film. The fact that a lot of visual queues were later reused in other comic book adaptations certainly helps this film not feel dated as well.

The story is simple enough. One year after being killed, Eric Draven comes back from the dead to exact revenge on the people responsible for killing him and his fiancée. He's lead to each one individually by a crow and the encounters are original and memorable. Draven's character is back for that sole purpose and when he attempts to reconnect to elements of his former life, like friends or playing music, he soon realizes that it's all meaningless and his existence is for the task at hand and nothing else.

I was a fan of Brandon Lee when this film was made, obviously aware of him because of his father. I had the films Rapid Fire and Laser Mission on VHS, I was THAT much a fan. His portrayal of Eric Draven is easily his best work in any film as it's probably the only one where he's playing an actual character. He has great screen presence here and each encounter with one of the murderers is a highlight of the film. Whether or not this film would have made him an action star however is highly debatable considering that his death contributes a great deal to this film having such a cult following. Keep in mind that's coming from a fan that's trying to be objectionable.

The rest of the cast is quite good highlighted by the underrated Michael Wincott as Top Dollar. He's one of those villains that's become bored with dealing with the common man and looks to enact some real carnage on the city. It's as if being the crime boss of the city has become mundane and he needs something or someone to get him out of this rut. He also has to have the coolest voice of a B-List actor currently working in Hollywood today.

The four individuals that committed the original crime are well drawn out bigger then life characters with David Patrick Kelly being my favorite performance of the group. His ultimate scene with Lee is a highlight of the film even though it's the one with less action. All four encounters are still memorable however, and you can also throw in the pawn shop scene with Jon Polito who always gives great character performances and this is no exception.

How would this film be regarded without the death of Brandon Lee is impossible to tell, but regardless I think it's one of the best comic book films to come out of the 90s if not THE best.

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