It’s kind of tough to try and review a film that you’ve seen more times than you can remember and attempt to stay even slightly objective, so let me just say right off the bat that this will be juuuuust a tad biased. In fact, the year that The Crow came out, I decided that, even though I was 15 years old, I was going trick or treating as Eric Draven. Sure, there were a lot of “Aren’t you a little old for this?” comments, and even one guy who thought I was Alice Cooper, but damn it, I loved the movie too much to not don a pair of pleather pants,a tight black shirt, and a black wig. Now, even though I’m a fan, I won’t sit here and argue that the movie is absolutely perfect. There are a few performances that I’m not super fond of, most notably Bai Ling as Myca. Luckily she’s not in the film very much, but even to this day, her performance makes me cringe a little.
Obviously, The Crow is most widely known for being the film that Brandon Lee unfortunately died while filming. We can only speculate what would have become of his career, and whether or not this film would have truly been a breakthrough for him, but it was definitely a gigantic step up from movies like Showdown in Little Tokyo and Rapid Fire. What’s interesting to me, though, is the way that Lee’s death makes this movie something more than what it would have otherwise been. It’s a dark and haunting film as is, but with the knowledge the he was accidentally killed on set hanging over it, it adds an extra layer to the film. Of course, everyone would have rather had him live to see the film be as successful as it has been, and to be able to marry his fiancée (their wedding date was a week after filming was due to be completed), but there’s something about that tragedy that hangs over every second of the film, especially given the story. On a purely selfish note, I’d like to think that, had he lived, we would have been spared all of the awful sequels (at least the Rob Zombie one never happened). Of course, the film world being what it is, there’s a reboot of the original in the works, but seeing as how one of the writers is Nick Cave, I’m slightly optimistic about this one. Fingers crossed.
Having been a fan of the comic book before the film was released, I was, of course, nervous about how the film wold come out. Up to this point, Hollywood didn’t exactly have a great track record when it came to comic book adaptations (please see the 1994 Fantastic Four film that was never officially released), and this was much, much darker than any Marvel or DC fare. Ultimately, I think that the few changes that were made didn’t detract from the film at all, and really it stayed fairly true to the comic. Changing the names of a few of the characters and taking a little creative license with the storyline wasn’t enough to stop me from thinking that it is a really great adaptation (although I would have loved to have seen the Skull Cowboy), something that Hollywood wasn’t able to pull off again for a good while. In case you don’t believe me, watch Spawn, if you can.
One of the other key things to me that makes The Crow so good is the soundtrack. I really don’t think it’s possible to talk about this film without mentioning the music, and how great of a job it does at setting and matching the mood on screen. To this day, 22 years later, that soundtrack still stands up really well. Interestingly enough, Sofia Shinas (who plays Shelly in the film) was also a recording artist with an album out by that point, but if you fire up the ol’ Google machine to find her music, you’ll be quickly as glad as I am that they didn’t try to include any of her music. Sub-par Paula Abdul knockoff tunes just wouldn’t have packed quite the same punch as My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult. Also, how good is the Nine Inch Nails cover of Joy Division’s “Dead Souls”?! I digress.
The Crow will forever hold a place in my heart, not just because it’s a great film, not just because it has a great soundtrack, and not just because it’s the last chance we had to see someone really coming into his own as an actor. It holds that place because of all of those things combined, and more. It holds a place because I can clearly remember watching it one day on TNT, I must have been about 16, and during a commercial break I tried to take the trash outside as quickly as I could. Once I got around to the back of my house to the trash can, I could see that the movie had started again, and without fail, I could look through the window, and still know every single line that was being spoken. I won’t go so far as to call it a masterpiece or anything like that, but it really is a fantastic piece of dark, gritty, and, at it’s core, romantic film.