No 468 - The Crow
Director - Alex Proyas
As I was watching this Toby got home with a big bag of vegetables (for a stir fry, he informed me). He took one look at the screen and asked me whether this film was really on the list. He seemed surprised when I told him that Yes. It was.
To be honest, I kind of understand Toby's surprise, because compared to a lot of the stuff that I have watched through the Empire challenge - it isn't that good. It isn't awful, and it is certainly one of the better 'vigilante spirit back from the dead' movies to have come from a previous comic. I'd rather watch The Crow a hundred million times than rather than ever watch Spawn again. Hell, I'd rather be felated by a bear trap. It is mainly John Leguizamo's clown, but I HATE IT.
Sorry, I got distracted - so whilst The Crow is by no means a bad film I can't help but feel that a large reason for the film's rank is the tragic demise of Brandon Lee. It is similar to my reasoning for why The Dark Knight managed to make 20 billion dollars in the cinemas. I don't think it is the be all and end all as The Dark Knight is an excellently well made film and The Crow is a cult classic. Both of these factors will have helped their respective films, but the sad truth is that a terrible death will boost the film's public image and therefore lead to more bums on seats.
This is not the only similarity between the two films. Let us move away from the stories behind the film and look at the actual physical similarities.
Brandon Lee's Eric Draven is essentially a monochromatic version of Heath Ledger's Joker. And I don't just mean the make up (although it is very similar) - Eric's very mannerism as he speaks to the police echoes the taunts and insanity of the Dark Knight. It is impossible to think that Heath Ledger did not take this film as an influence to some degree. The similarities are too great.
So let us move to some of the other film aspects which I have noticed.... firstly the ridiculous nature of the villains. It is almost like they made a checklist and never felt there was quite enough evil in the characters.
"Oh they rape and murder people and start massively destructive fires.... how about making them WITCHES and they have to gauge out eyeballs. They could also torture children. Have we missed anything? INCEST! Of Course!" So to solve that little problem they made the chief villains lovers as well as siblings.
The bad guys are so ridiculously wicked, with no remorse or even any real character. They are there to be cruel, and to be killed. Their wickedness is so over the top - I mean they chase shots by downing bullets - that it is impossible to relate to them in anyway.
That isn't necessarily a bad thing, as I have mentioned when talking about Sin City, it doesn't matter if a character is ridiculous and ott as long as the rest of the film's universe fits with it. But The Crow is such a po faced serious film that the cartoonish villains jar horrifically. It wasn't that much of a surprise when I found out that the original comics were written as a cathartic project to help him come to terms with the author's girlfriend's death. This is apparent in the film - Death is viewed both as being a beautiful release but also shows the traumatic pain it brings to everyone around it.
Sadly you can't focus on the horrors of death and also provide such insane cartoon villains. this mish mash means a large proportion of the film gets lost in a pseudo Gothic grungy 90s confusion. Which is a shame.
I'm not sure if this confusion is what causes Eric to quote the Raven. It could either be linking up with Poe's poem and the connection with insanity or just that Crows and Ravens are both big black birds.
And also - Once Eric Draven has got his clothing from his various sources he appears to cover up most of it in Gaffer Tape. Which I really don't understand.