April 8, 2013

Movie Review: The Crow - City of Angels

The Crow is a film that probably did not need a sequel. It is a fantastic film whose modest box office success could be partially attributed to those curious about the foal performance of Brandon Lee, who tragically passed away during the making of the movie. In any case, the decision was made to make a second film. The resulting film was The Crow: City of Angels. The movie was a box office disaster, disappearing after just two weeks.



It is clear the movie was made as a money maker, trying to cash in on the moderate success of the first film. You can tell this by the seemingly rushed script. While I think The Crow as a franchise has room for more stories and different characters, this sequel takes a cut and paste approach. Sure, some of the details are changed, but the movie map lines up with the first pretty closely. You could probably describe these movies plot flow with the same words.

The movie has been much maligned over the years as being unnecessary, bad filmmaking, and trading on the Brandon Lee tragedy. The studios attempt to cash grab has seemingly backfired as it tanked at the box office, but somehow I still like it.


Yes, you read that right. Despite the plan to grab the box office and the cut and paste screenplay, I think there is still a lot to like about this movie. I am not going to defend it as anything great, it isn't. I will say it is worth watching while leaving your cynicism behind. It is all right if a movie merely entertains, this is far from an embarrassment to cinema.

At the center of The Crow: City of Angels is Ashe Corven (Vincent Perez). Ashe and his son are killed by a gang of bad guys, for a reason that I forget. Their bodies are tied up and tossed off a dock where they sink to the ocean floor. Meanwhile, we are reintroduced to Sarah (Mia Kershner), she has grown up and moved to Los Angeles since we last saw her in the first Crow film. She works as a tattoo artist and has a connection to the supernatural following her experience with Eric Draven. So, she has visions of Ashe's death and knows that his spirit is restless with unfinished business.


Sarah acts as Ashe's guide. She paints his face similar to Eric and he sets off into the night to exact his revenge on the minions of evil responsible for the death of his son. J goes after guys with names like Spider Monkey, Curve (Iggy Pop), Nemo (Thomas Jane), and Kali (one time Power Ranger Thuy Trang in her last film). He fights his way all the way up to their boss, Judah (Richard Brooks).

All right, as you can see, there is nothing particularly special there. The plot feels rather generic, especially coming on the heels of the prior film. Not to mention, how do you follow up that iconic performance from Brandon Lee?

Plot and icons aside, I think they did a lot of interesting things. They have a similarly grimy look that fits the world of the first while still feeling separate. Music director Tim Pope does a fine job adapting his musical sensibilities honed directing many Cure videos. It many not be a perfect cinematic style, but the music heavy soundtrack fits right in.


I also like some of the performances. Vincent Perez stands out. He has some great lines and delivers a genuinely emotional and heartfelt performance as a man avenging the death of his son and struggling with his newfound status as, essentially, undead avenger. It is something that does not come with hard and fast rules, and this character struggles with that. Perez does a good job of being different from Lee. Mia Kershner and Richard Brooks give fine supporting performances too. They are theatrical and understated.

I don't know. It seems like I should hate the movie for riding the originals coattails and not really trying to offer anything of artistic merit. Still, I think it manages to succeed in spite of itself. It in no way surpasses the original, but still manages to offer something of substance. There is some real emotion to be found and I like the heavily stylized feel, like the image of the Crow appearing around all the dead bad guys.

Hate me all you want, tell me why you ate the film. There are plenty of reasons not to like it, maybe I am too much of an optimist in regards to it. So what and why not? Give the film a revisit, perhaps you will find something to like too.

Recommended.


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