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Christopher Webster [Celluloid 10.28.11] movie review blu-ray

Year: 1994
Directors: Alex Proyas
Writers: James O'Barr / David J. Schow / John Shirley
IMDB: link
Amazon: link
Trailer: link
Review by: agentorange
Film Rating: 7.5 out of 10
Blu-ray Rating: 6.5 out of 10

The Crow is one of those rare genre films that I only ever saw once in the theatre and never revisited on VHS or DVD. And I love that, because seeing it again this week on Blu-ray was basically like seeing it for the first time. My memories of the film were all fragmented and mostly based on pop-culture references and the odd iconic clip from the film. Thinking back, I probably didn't revisit the film because it was so alienating to me at the time. I was just a kid, and Proyas' film is intensely dark and, well let's just say it, goth.

The film was probably just a little too much for me. Think Gotham City meets Sin City meets the crime-ridden Detroit of Robocop 2. It's a scary world. Four years later when I saw Dark City I was relatively more prepared, but even then it took me a while to wrap my head around Proyas' vision. Now, of course, I love the hell out of it, and the The Crow officially comes in a close second.

The first thing I noticed about the The Crow was that it is so very 90s in all the best possible ways. The early 90s was the time that music video directors were starting making films in a serious way and you can see the influence of Proyas' time working with montage and rock-stars in this movie. The flashbacks sequences in particular are MTV-tastic with their impressionistic colours and and flash editing. And of course the film pre-dates CGI (sort of), so the scope is confined to back lots and in-camera trickery. For instance, the director's love of cities made of miniatures and force perspective is fully on display and I would argue that the opening fly-by of the city ranks up there with Blade Runner in setting the stage for a unique, otherworldly experience.

And Brandon Lee. Fu@& me, but he's a goddamn force in this film. I never gave much of a thought to Lee back then (beyond the news of his death while making this film), but he was clearly a rising star. His performance is physically aggressive and I would put out that there's something of Heath Ledger's Joker in there too.

The Blu-ray itself is decent, but not mind-blowing. The transfer is probably a big step up from the DVD release (I never saw it, remember), but the film was only mid-budget at the time and full of composite shots so it's a mixed bag. Sometimes the clarity is astounding and sometimes it's grainier than a multi-grain loaf of bread. The Crow is also a VERY dark film to the point that its almost black & White. But this Blu-ray handles the stark contrasts really well which makes me think that some time was put into this release.

The special features are slim. There is an odd interview with The Crow comic creator, James O'Barr which looks like it was recorded in his basement. It's an intimate one-on-one with a very strange, thoughtful and talented dude. But other than that, the commentary with Proyas is the only other feature worth anything on this disc. Considering this films status, I think a feature documentary was in order, but there's been so many legal battles over the franchise that I'm not surprised there wasn't one put together.

Revisiting The Crow was a great time at the movies and learning more about the comic and film from the mouths of O'Barr and Proyas makes this an easy recommend.

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Marina (10 years ago) Reply

Nice! I've been meaning to pick this up but haven't had the time to stop at the video store. On my list for next week.

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