The Crow (1994)

Directed by: Alex Proyas

Written by: James O’Barr (Original Comic Story), David J. Schow (Screenplay) & John Shirley (Screenplay)

The Crow is one of my all time favourite films as well as one of my all time favourite graphic novels. This Gothic, fantasy action film has a tragic story that’s powerful to behold as we witness what the power of revenge can do to a person. However, this isn’t your typical revenge plot, because it involves supernatural powers and a shallow yet still obvious religious theme.

Eric Draven, portrayed by the incredible Brandon Lee (son of Bruce Lee), is actually brought back from the dead as an avenging angel, after he and his fiance were murdered by a group of thugs on Devils Night (the night before Halloween). Eric returns home one night to find strangers in his apartment, and before he has a chance to discover what’s going on, he is stabbed and shot, before being thrown from a high window out of his apartment onto the road below. His wife Shelly is raped and murdered by these same men, and the two are buried together in the local cemetery with only one being alive to remember them, a young girl known as Sarah.

If you’ve read the graphic novel you’ll know just how great this film is, and the only downside to it is knowing it was Brandon Lee’s last after an accident that happened on set. However, the film sticks close to the source material, especially since James O’Barr, the creator of the characters and the graphic novel worked closely with the cast and crew of the film to ensure it was done correctly.

The tone of the film is, for obvious reasons, dark but there is still humour in it which lightens the mood and gives you a sense of Eric Draven’s mind because let’s face it, coming back from the dead with the ability to heal any wound, and the opportunity to get revenge on those who wronged you, it’s enough to send a sensible man insane, and we see that shine through Brandon Lee’s performance with jokes and laughter, whilst still remaining eerily dark and twisted. When the bad guys realize he can heal all his wounds and can’t die…You can see how much Eric enjoys seeing the fear grow in their faces, and as the story unfolds we learn that the group of thugs who committed the crime, were just pawns to a bigger villain leading a crime syndicate in the city.

We see emotion as Eric tries to find out the truth of what really happened that night, and why he and his fiance lost their lives, and we see him trying to connect to his past through Sarah, a young girl that he and his fiance looked after and cared for. We also see the truth unfold through Officer Albrecht who was in charge of the investigation, and another living character that grows a strong bond with Eric as the story progresses.

The characters are all brilliantly written, from Sarah’s childhood innocence becoming a more mature sense of realizing that the world can’t always be a happy place, to Eric’s lust for revenge and being sidetracked by emotions of his former life, trying to remain a good person whilst committing these acts of murder for revenge.

The music in the film really fits the scenes and the feel of the entire story with bands like The Cure, Pantera, Rage Against The Machine and Stone Temple Pilots among others, its soundtrack is brilliantly dark.

Also the main aspect that you have to love is Brandon Lee in the crow makeup and clothing. He looks menacing, he looks like he has a lust for revenge, most importantly he looks badass! One of the greatest comic book characters in film that I have ever seen, and whilst I was a little wary of the talks to remake this film in 2016/2017, I would be curious to see the character brought to life again and given a fresh look but I don’t know if anyone can beat Brandon Lee in that portrayal because he looks incredible.

This film is dark, powerful, moving and poetic and will remain one of my top 5 films of all time. Maybe even top 3. I highly recommend this film to anyone who enjoys a comic book movie, especially if you like movies with action and drama with Gothic overtones. Whilst there is a lot in the book that doesn’t make it to the films, the general plot and themes are there which makes this one of the greatest comic book adaptations I know of. It’s just a shame that Lee couldn’t have survived it to make more.

R.I.P Brandon Lee (1965-1993)

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