If you ever see a crow wandering around in the street, it probably isn’t a sign of bad luck and instead a sign that some undead guy is knocking about. Not sure if that makes you feel any better when you spot one though. Just hope you haven’t ticked this person off when they were sleeping in beds not graves. Otherwise that crow will definitely be bad luck.
The Crow starts with a bang as Eric Draven (Brandon Lee) goes flying out of his flat window and his fiancée Shelly Webster (Sofia Shinas) is brutally raped and beaten. There’s an explosion too. Both end up dead, but Eric comes back from the dead thanks to the power of a wandering crow. With revenge on his mind and some newly acquired martial arts skills, Eric hunts the four thugs who did him wrong and hopes to brutally murder each one. And he does it with style and a smile.
The film keeps things simple and has Eric and his friendly neighbourhood crow approaching each member one at a time and engaging in some darkly humourous chit-chat and a spot of sadistic violence. The performance from Brandon Lee is excellent and he comes across as a true psychopath, especially with that clown make up and mangy hair. I imagine Heath Ledger took some notes when he was developing his Joker character in The Dark Knight. Though Eric does have a slight sense of normality when he hangs out with his cop pal Albrecht (Ernie Hudson) and do provide the necessary contrast. Can’t always be sticking knives in people.
The setting goes well with the comic book action; a dark grungy city full of punk clubs with things like box fans hanging from the ceiling coiled in wire and slanted neon lit signs in need of repair. The messy rain drenched city is beautiful and the kind of grime that you don’t see so often in cinema. I found the rather gothic grim environment rather beautiful. Because my head processes things a little funny. Add an awesome soundtrack featuring The Cure and Stone Temple Pilots and I’m in love.
The Crow might tingle my aesthetic and audio fetishes but it has a fair share of problems which really throw me out of the immersion of the world. Some of the acting is dodgy, especially regarding the teen skater Sarah (Rochelle Davis) who is stiffer than the board she carries, and the feature villain (Michael Wincott) is a bit of a bore. The film contains a number of free-falling scenes which look like a man waggling around on a paper background. They don’t look good, though they do have a slight tacky quality to them. The film isn’t exactly super serious so it isn’t too much of a problem. The strange plot development of super nice guy Eric into a psychopath seems a bit suspect. I guess being dead changes everything.
The Crow excels at offering comic murder in a dense setting and while certain characters and plot points can let it down, this is one of the better comic adaptations out there. It’s certainly better than the likes of The Amazing Spider-man and Captain America which have all the polish but none of the charm. Just a shame about what happened with Brandon Lee who ended up dead on set. There are conspiracies of murder, and if that’s the case hopefully the perpetrator is flinching every time he sees a crow fly by.