Thursday, 14 March 2013

The Crow Challenge Day One: Taking Flight

My friend Peter recently challenged Living Dead Girl and myself to watch and review ALL of The Crow films. I’m a big enough fan of the first film, am interested in seeing John Connor gothed up in the final installment  and it’s not like a film premise as terminally cool as The Crow can go too wrong, so why not?

Kicking it all off with Alex Proyas’ 1994 cult classic The Crow. I won’t waste too much time here. It’s one of those films we all know, and if you don’t, it means you did being a teenager wrong.

Returning as an undead avenger one year after his and his fiancées brutal murders, Eric Draven takes revenge on the gangsters responsible, aided by the daughter of a junkie, a too-old-for-this-shit detective, and a supernatural crow. The well-worn story is pretty solid, or at the very least, entertaining to watch, with performances all round working well for me.

The film is unique stylistically, being the cinematic equivalent of grunge music (but with a metal soundtrack). The film feels claustrophobic in scope, but not in a good way. More of a cheap way, with everything feeling like a set. But still, there are very few films that have as much artistic cred as this one right here. The ever-looming topic on The Crow is the tragic accidental death of Brandon Lee by a gun firing blanks. For my money, it is glaringly obvious every scene he was no longer with us for, and it is a major detraction from the film, but when he is on screen? This is one mighty performance, and a hell of a legacy to leave behind.

I will have to show my true colours here and say that though I like the film, I don’t love it. It is pretty much Twilight without the sparkles. Give me hate all you want, but most people experienced this film as misbegotten teens, and sentimentality has us forgiving the telegraphed dialogue, flat characters, and the fact the unmitigated coolness of the entire film was really a prototype for appealing to the teens who weren't into their John Hughes (Ok, I know that is a late reference, even by 90s standards, but you get the jist). Nope, the record and poetic motif of ‘It can’t rain all the time’ is as cringy as the poetry you wrote on the back of your schoolbooks, and though it is visually awesome, The Crow character crosses the line of badass to ‘no, seriously, I’m cool. Really’.

The film is an emo and goth mainstay, and will continue to speak to an audience that feels ignored, to the point of missing some of the glaring problems with the film. But hey, I’m not saying it’s bad. I’m just saying it’s only alright.

Remember the good side, because ‘It can’t rain all the time’ (yeah, I went there).

Come back tomorrow to see how I find/if I survive The Crow II: City of Angels.