the last time i watched the crow was probably some time in the late 90s. i don’t remember much about it to be honest. i recall the sets and visuals were gotherrific, some decent action scenes and brandon lee looked like he had fun playing the part and was on his way to bigger than better things, so probably not 2 showdown 2 little tokyo. i do remember quite a lot of complaints about them making a sequel two years later when the crow: city of angels came out. there are eventually four crow movies and a tv show, with a reboot on the way. it’s like they think it’s some highlander shit.*
though city of angels is not as laughable of a sequel title as the quickening.
much like the crow episode I, a dude and a loved one is killed by the one and only gang in a gothatastic looking city. aided by the powerful crow, he is brought back to life to avenge his own death.
the lead this time is played by swiss/french actor vincent perez (queen margo, queen of the damned, the french version of tv’s law and order: criminal intent). his name is ashe corven instead of eric draven. the loved one killed is his son instead of fiancée. mia kirshner (exotica, tv’s 24, not another teen movie, tv’s vampire diaries, 30 days of night 2: 60 nights later) plays sarah, the blonde girl from the first movie, now all grown and gothed up. the gang leader is played by a black actor this time, richard brooks from tv’s law and order.
the first crow movie is the feature debut of alex proyas, a former commercial/music video director who later went on to make dark city, i, robot, and knowing, all movies i like in varying degrees. based on the james o’barr graphic novels, it’s got just enough plot to make it a step above the usual action sci-fi movie based on picture books. the crow: city of angels is directed by tim pope, who has done music videos for david bowie, the bangles, the pretenders, queen, siouxsie and the banshees, and most of the cure music videos, so i can see why he was picked. the city still looks as amazing as the first one and most of the film still looks as gloomy and beautiful as the first movie.
what’s weird though, is that they decided to slim the script down even more than the first one. the cop character is gone. in fact, we see some town residents in a few scenes but the only thing they seem to do is trick or treat, get tattoos (sarah is now a tattoo artist), going to s&m goth club night, and churchgoing minority people. another thing that’s kind of unintentionally funny is that in the first one, draven came back a year later on halloween but in this movie, he comes back almost instantly, all in the span of the 5-10 minute opening sequence, so the whole day of the dead festival is kind of pointless. even ashe corven himself doesn’t seem to have a job, we see in flashback that he’s fixing a motorcycle, but i don’t know if it’s his occupation. it’s certainly a few glamorous steps down from being a rock star.
another kind of disappointing thing is that city of angels kind of gives up on the whole action movie angle. there’s not really much fight scenes though they make it up with s&m and torture. the one somewhat action-ish fight scene, he’s fighting the only asian character in the movie. at least this was during the days before the post-action avid farts days.
it never occurred to me when i saw the first one but the crow premise is pretty much death wish starring the joker/batman. kind of a goth vigilante movie. but the screenplay is so bad that there is no build up or progression at all. it simply needs five or six villains to fill out the screen time to make it feature length. there are also quite a bit of plot points that doesn’t make sense. like they cut out some scenes. indeed, the miramax/dimension scissorhands strike again. it’s strange though considering they picked up the first movie after it was dropped by paramount, who intended to release it direct to video.
it’s too bad cause in addition to the cinematography, there are actually some good elements for a good movie. there is just the right hint of love interest between the crow no. 2 and sarah, which they were not legally allowed to do in the first one. it helps that she is played by mia kirshner in fishnet. brooks is pretty convincingly evil as the lead villain. one of his henchman is played by iggy pop, who gives…an interesting performance. future punisher (no, not dolph, not ray stevenson) t(h)om(as) jane is also in the movie, looking like a goth in clockwork orange costume, as one of the gang member, the pervy one.
the music score is also mostly good, except for the few instances of unfortunately dated 90s alt rock song choices. like everything else, the soundtrack is also a step down from the first one, gone are nine inch nails and the cure, instead we get filter, korn, and seven mary three. and this not the movie’s fault, but the gothy crow makeup has been co-op-ed by illiterate mid-west trailer park clowns.
there are a few other little touches i like. there’s one iggy pop scene scored to his i wanna be your dog. the movie is so goth that even the cocaine he snorts is black. there is a pretty funny scene where the crow kills the t(h)om(as) jane character in a nudie booth where he repeats lines from the stripper. this also leads to a scene where this crow 2.0 takes off his leather trench coat and beat jane’s character with it. i also like the fact that the gang leader’s name is judah and in his first scene, he’s dealing with a member who betrayed him. and the requisite walking in front of explosion scene is scored to rob zombie’s version of i’m your boogie man.
instead of building towards a climax in the third act, the last half hour of the movie is so bad that it actually made me less willing to give the movie a pass. not only does it destroy the
good mediocre will built up in the first hour, the last act does not make any sense at all and will make you hate the movie if you didn’t already. you know it’s bad when you feel worse about the crow, the actual bird, than any of the human characters.
perez is okay i guess as the crow 2.0. i can’t really say he was bad considering the editing and screenplay. he definitely lacks the drive and emotions compare to brandon lee. the bad guys also seem less menacing and organized than the first movie. the only bright spot is the sarah character, played by mia kirshner. half way through the movie, and this is only the second crow related things i’ve seen, it occurred to me that maybe the sarah character, played by mia kirshner, should have been the crow. it would have been kind of interesting to see a woman as the crow, doing the avenging business. it sure would have been more interesting than the guy from ugly betty, edward “john connor” furlong, marky mark, or the hangover’s bradley cooper. but i guess this studio doesn’t trust anyone to do a female revenge movie unless it’s directed by quentin tarantino.
but geniuses think alike!
according to wikipedia, screenwriter david s. goyer (death warrant, dark city, blade 1, 2, 3, batman begins, the dark knight, the upcoming the dark knight rises, ghost rider 2, man of steel) actually wanted to do the second crow movie with the sarah character as the crow. goyer and pope actually wanted to make a crow sequel that’s as different from the first one as possible, out of respect to the first movie and to brandon lee. the weinsteins effect eventually takes over and they ended up making and cutting the movie as close to the first crow as possible. both goyer and pope have since disowned the studio version. despite what the dvd cover says, the actual director’s cut is still not officially available (there is also a fan edit called the second coming). someone did eventually make a version of the crow with a female lead, at least according to imdb, but there’s not much info on this wings of the crow movie.
maybe it’s because of low expectation, or not remembering much of the first movie, or never read the crow picture books, or my attachment to 90s alt rock, or my familiarity with tall skinny gothy guy in black or my love for gothiness or gothed up mia kirshner, i didn’t exactly hate the crow: city of angels, i would give it a mix review for the first hour and a hateful one for the last half hour. like everything in this movie, from the characters’ names to the inferior soundtrack, city of angels never feels any more than a pale copy of the first movie, though i’m pretty sure paleness is required. it probably would have made a passable direct to video sequel instead of an official theatrical release. this is the definition of words like negligible, middling, inconsequential.
*the director for the crow reboot, juan carlos fresnadillo (intacto, 28 weeks later), is also attached to the highlander remake.
p.s. in addition to the tragedy of brandon lee, the crow curse continues as the girl who played sarah in the first movie, rochelle davis, is in some pretty deep shit. and the asian female equivalent of bai ling from the first movie, played by thuy trang (the yellow power ranger) in city of angels, was killed in a car accident in 2001. i suppose it would be mean to think that maybe marky mark and the hangover’s bradley cooper should be encouraged to take part in a crow movie.
but i guess i shouldn’t say that.
the crow: city of angels is currently available on netflix instant. along with all the other crow movies and the tv show.
the crow 2: city of angels: the game