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The Crow

April 28, 2010

The Crow

This is a film that people seem to love or hate, which I mainly attribute to the fact that the people who love it make it out to be something more then it is.  This film is simply a dark super hero film with some fun action sequences, some symbolism and not much else in terms of a great underlying message.  It has a strong music score and is entertaining to watch.

The mythology surrounding the crow is that when someone dies a brutal death, a crow, can bring them back from the other side to exact judgment on those who killed them.  In this case, Eric Draven and his fiance are murdered by a gang who is running the town.  Draven comes back a year later, on Halloween, to exact his revenge.  He takes on a colorful group of bad guys working almost along side the law but just outside of it.  Only one police officer and Sarah, a young girl who was a friend of him and his fiance know who he is and what is going on.  Eventually the bad guys figure out that the crow who is following him around holds Draven’s life and is giving him is undead powers.  They go after the crow and lure him into a trap by using Sarah.  Draven must then fight to save her from Top Dollar who is running the whole city.

The acting in this film is pretty nondescript.  Eric Draven, who has the most screen time, is played by Brandon Lee who does a solid job in the role.  Brandon Lee died during a mishap on the set of this film so a few of the scenes of Eric Draven aren’t actually Lee but recreated from other footage in the film.  Sarah is the next biggest character, in terms of screen time, and she is played aptly by Rochelle Davis who, for a child actress, does a good job and this is the only film that she has been credited with working on.  Bai Ling shows up in this film as a sex crazed and just crazed half sister of Top Dollar and while her performance is poor, as are all her performances, she is probably the most recognizable name in this film.  Ernie Hudson plays the police officer who Draven works with at times and Michael Wincott plays Top Dollar.  Their performances are average at best.

What really makes this film entertaining is the visual aspect.  The film is based off of a comic book, so much of the action is over the top and absurd.   James O’Barr was the original writer of the comic series and strip.  Basically all the film is shot in a series of dark images and at night giving it a properly creepy feeling.  Alex Proyas, director of Dark City, I, Robot, and Knowing, does a solid job of creating an eerie atmosphere for this film.  And while this film is shot in a gritty light, realism isn’t something that it strives for, when you have an undead killer and over the top action, I don’t think it would be possible to have succeed.  I can’t forget to mention the music as the strong rock soundtrack really amps up the energy in the film and meets the over the top action and styling perfectly with music from the Stone Temple Pilots, The Cure, Nine Inch Nails, and Rage Against the Machine.

I am one of those who likes the film, but not because it was some great dark comic book/superhero masterpiece.  It isn’t that type of film, Batman Begins would be the only film I qualify as that.  The Crow, while gritty and dark, is much more over the top in terms of action and in terms of the characters.  Someone like the Joker is obviously a crazy villain in Batman, but Top Dollar and everyone under him are more in line with a villain from Dick Tracy then anything.  This film is meant to be enjoyed as a fun dark comic book film and nothing more.

Entertainment Grade: B

Critical Grade: B (It gets too much critical love because Brandon Lee died in the making of the film, much like The Dark Knight and Heath Ledger get too much love because he died just after making that film)

Overall Grade: B

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