Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Crow (1994) Review:

If there's one movie that will be forever known as the late Brandon Lee's best movie, it is this one. Sadly, the son of famous martial arts master Bruce Lee, would too suffer from a fatal injury on set, leading to his untimely death before this cult classic was released. What's completely astonishing though, is how well this movie was put together even after Lee's death. One would almost think that Lee only had died after the filming, but not so. There were several edits, body doubles and even CGI used to make it look like Lee was in whole film throughout. For 1994, that's extremely impressive. But this isn't the only outstanding thing to this comic book movie. There's very little to nit pick about.

Brandon Lee as The Crow
The story is about Eric Draven, a regular everyday man who witnesses the brutal rape and murder of his wife to-be and is killed off as well. This all happens during Halloween (or Devil's Night as its called) in a crime ridden city where buildings are set ablaze just for fun. A year later, Draven is resurrected by a single crow to take vengeance upon the people who took his and wife's life that same night. In the simplest of terms, it is a revenge story, but the execution is done in such a way that gives depth to each character on screen. Alex Proyas, who begins his directorial debut here, keeps a steady pace as well. Of course, the person who carries majority of the entertainment is Brandon Lee.

Brandon Lee as Eric Draven gives a performance that feels natural. His delivery of lines are not over-the-top campy, nor are they boring. His voice allows the character to sound serious or kind whenever it is needed. The costume design is also great looking as well. It matches not only the gothic tone, but also the whole design as a comic book movie. Attempting to understand Draven's case is Sergeant Albrecht (Ernie Hudson). Hudson is one of those actors who most viewers enjoy in whatever film he stars in because of how relaxed he comes across. The main villain behind Devil's Night is called Top Dollar (Michael Wincott) who also gives a performance that is precise with his delivery. He's an anarchist, so all he wants is chaos, thus creating Devil's Night.

The violence portrayed here is another strong point. There's no plotting or brooding. All it is, is pure vengeance and no holds bar. It's taking care of business with no thinking which is beneficial to this kind of revenge film. That and the dialog used throughout each scene makes the revenge feel that much more justified. What's surprising, is how it feels like this is the movie that inspired other anti-hero films to do the same kind of theatrics. For example, having an outline symbol lit by flames? The Punisher (2004) and Daredevil (2003) performed those same types of moves during their moments of payback. The Crow (1994) is still the antihero that started it all and should be given respected for that.

The special effects have aged rather well too. With most of the background being dark with either black or grey, it's difficult to see what was enhanced by computer and what wasn't. The crows themselves are hard to distinguish between actor and CGI. Dariusz Wolski's cinematography is neat with panning shots of the city that'll make the viewer feel like they are the crow in the sky gliding across the landscape. Wolski would later do all the cinematography for all the Pirates of the Caribbean films. The editing is also competently done considering it looks like Lee was on set for the whole movie even though he died during filming.

Then there's the other crow!
The only thing that could've been slightly fixed was the music. Graeme Revell's score does contain a soft reoccurring theme, which focuses that on Draven's humanity and love for his wife with gentle flutes. Revell's music also contains saxophone, which is rare for an action film but it works. It makes it feel like a film noir in some senses. Yet, the score lacks any real action cues, other than tribal drums, which make it feel empty in some cases. Also, it's understood that the movie has a gothic tone but including metal bands in a few scenes wasn't necessary either. Instead Revell could've included tunes that particularly enhanced them with more power and emotion. Other than that, there really isn't anything to truly be upset about. It's one of those rare, dark comic book adaptations that any comic book reader should watch.

Although it was Brandon Lee's last film, it's one of his best. The action is dark, special effects look good and the actors pitch great performances. It's Graeme Revell's score that could use some improvement although it is still a special element to the film.

Points Earned --> 9:10

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