Friday 16 August 2013

The Crow (1994)

Eric Draven (Brandon Lee †) rocks out on a rooftop, because he can.
So, some guy called Eric rises from the grave on the anniversary of his death to wreak a bloody revenge on his fiancée's murderers.  On the basis of that pitch I was wary of the film, expecting it to be distressingly horrific and charmlessly dour.  As it transpired I was quite mistaken: 'The Crow' turned out to be excellently enjoyable, with a genuine wit, warmth and lightness of touch.  The heroes are extremely likeable, enviably cool, and share a friendship that's appealing to watch.

The villains, on the other hand, are outlandishly despicable, and seem to constantly invite their own destruction.  Not in the ridiculous and pantomimesque way we saw in last week's 'Battlefield Earth' (2000), but through a habitual disdain for everyone not in their gang, almost a violent snobbery, expressed through exploitation and extreme physical abuse.  The villains are cool too but, unlike in the later 'Battlefield Earth', never threaten to eclipse the Heroes.  Indeed, if I've one criticism of 'The Crow' (which, as you may note, I'm rather taken with), it's that the gang of villains are on the back foot from the start.  The format of the film is invulnerable Eric Draven busting their asses, which means that, though the baddies present a substantial threat to society, there's really no prospect of our hero losing.  The villains are doomed.

Sarah (Rochelle Davis) and Sergeant Albrecht (Ernie Hudson)
Eric's friends and allies, down at the hot-dog stand. 
It's a visually striking film, and had as significant an effect on the fashions of the alternative and gothic scenes as did 'The Matrix' half a decade later.  The film has the flavour of Batman noir, a tone at which early-nineties cinema excelled.  Watching this, I also realised where the 'Doctor Who' TV movie two years later stole all its most memorable shots and images.

It was a particular delight watching this film so soon after the aforementioned 'Battlefield Earth', that superficially exciting plodder in which no two elements complemented one another, as it showed up this film's wonderful consistency.  Here the sound and picture, dialogue and story, mythology and character all work together to make something that's amply enjoyable to sit down and watch for a couple of hours.  I'm rather surprised it took quite so many years for this film to be set before me, and I'll be glad to see it again.

Myca (Bai Ling) enjoys gouging out eyes.  She's a villain, by the way
P.S. I'm aware that almost any film would probably delight me after 'Battlefield Earth' (2000).  Even if I'd watched 'Doctor Zhivago' (1965) straight afterwards (to pick a well-made film that I nonetheless don't enjoy at all), I'd probably have come away saying it was great fun and sparkling with wonder.  Nonetheless, I found 'The Crow' to have many merits.

Hey look, optical media!

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