The Crow ★★★★½

This film certainly rises up to be a triumph! Yes, I loved it, wishing I had seen this sooner. But perhaps it is a good thing I waited until I was beyond mature enough to appreciate the film without being overbearing or elitist about it (not to say this was a problem for me in my youth).

Alex Proyas (a director I quite admire) provides raw energy, strong atmosphere, and some wit into his direction here, proving a formidable match for the material. This helped him break through and go on to do some movies ( Dark City, I, Robot, even Gods of Egypt ) that sparked my admiration of him as a director. The film certainly has its darkness but it’s not oppressive or depressing about it. Instead, it channels all that into supporting a story rife with revenge, grief, and humanity (and lack thereof). There’s also room for surprisingly tender moments throughout, which strengthen the film’s catharsis factor.

Proyas’s sleek style amounts to German Expressionism on steroids, which absolutely works for this film. It was also a delight to see miniatures and practical effects working alongside sets and camerawork to bring this seedy, dingy world to life. Complementing that is one killer soundtrack that elevates the Gothic/industrial/grunge flavor the aesthetic’s going for. “Burn” by The Cure is the go-to jam (and scene) for many yet my personal highlight is the rooftop scene set to Nine Inch Nails’s cover of “Dead Souls” (I discovered that song on the radio almost six months ago.)

Brandon Lee truly did a great job, injecting his character with stoicism, vulnerability, and a bit of wry humor. It is sad he died during production yet this fact adds to his presence here as well as this film overall. Kinda poetic if you think about it. He and the good guys are easy to root for. The bad guys are despicable but quite entertaining. This dynamic might be simplistic but that’s a part of the charm. Helps that the supporting cast puts their A-game into their material.

The film does run around in moving its way from scene to scene though. It expects you to catch up, which can be disorienting for those who don’t already gravitate towards the style. The second act somewhat drags in moments other than The Crow’s killings and personal interactions. This really shows its age glaringly in some spots but that ultimately doesn’t hurt it.

This particular review is a lot longer and more personal than normal for me. But with a film this damn cool, it’s hard not to get excited. It’s a gripping revenge tale, a nice little love story, a visually intoxicating trip, and a comic book come to life all in one go! Yeah, this film is not for everyone. Some people may get tripped up or worn out by the experience. But for those who can appreciate what it is doing, The Crow is one hell of a ride, warts and all.

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