The Crow (1994) – Review

4 Stars

The Crow is a landmark achievement in many regards but the film carries a morose weight given the tragic underpinnings of the behind the scenes death of the late Brandon Lee. However the look, style and energy are so sensational that the film leaps off the screen at times, engulfing the viewer in the filmmaker’s vision of a semi-futuristic and hellish society of psychopaths, impotent authority figures and the stunning charisma of its star.

Eric Draven (Lee) is a promising musician recently engaged to his girlfriend Shelly Webster. The young couple live a life of bliss in a shabby apartment on the seedy side of town. When Shelly complains to the tenant board of violations she is brutally beaten, raped and killed by a group of vicious thugs with colorful names like T-Bird, Fun-boy, and Tin-Tin. In the midst of the attack Eric arrives on the scene and is promptly shot and dropped out of a window. Sergeant Albrecht (Ernie Hudson) is the beat cop first on the scene, he can hardly stomach the carnage but notices a curious onlooker amongst the by-standers, a pre-teen girl named Sara (Rochelle Davis). She was a daughter like figure to Eric and Shelly, now she is the only one left to grieve their deaths.

The mythology of the film suggests that a crow sets free the restless souls of injustice to roam the earth in order to right past indiscretions. In this case it means the resurrection of Eric Draven into a walking ghost presence that resembles Jim Morrsion crossed with The Joker. A year has passed since his murder but tonight Draven’s mission is to exact revenge on those responsible, directly or indirectly, with the slaughter.

At this point the plot is a rundown of villains being killed off, but it is done with dazzling style and technique. The art direction is obviously influenced by both Batman‘s Gotham City and Blade Runner‘s futuristic imagining of Los Angeles. Though this is a darker and far more menacing environment than either of those neighborhoods. The Crow is an inaugural step toward the direction of what is now common place among comic-book movie adaptations. It is a highly stylized and brooding world, with an anti-hero as the protagonist and a supporting cast of decent people caught up in a unforgiving city. The tone and visual style is similar to Rodriguez’s Sin City, and the theme of karmic justice to the truly evil is shared, but the undeniable talent of Brandon Lee is the real reason to see this cult classic.

Director: Alex Proyas
Stars: Brandon Lee, Ernie Hudson, Michael Wincott

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