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Crow, The

 

Starring: Brandon Lee, Ernie Hudson, Michael Wincott
Director: Alex Proyas

Rating: R

Review Posted: 5.10.02

 

By John Teves.

 

The Movie

 

Eric Draven, a young rock guitarist, and his fiancée, are brutally killed by a ruthless gang of criminals. Exactly one year after his death, Eric returns from the grave to seek out his attackers. His task is simple, avenge his death and that of his beloved Shelly by taking out each of the four killers. Helping him along the way is a mystical black crow, his guardian through the land of the living, and police officer Albreck (Ernie Hudson). In the end our ruthless gang of criminals meet poetic justice, vigilante style, from the dark angel himself.

 

The Crow pulls the "knife shoulder" move that only Blade was able to copy professionally.

 

The Crow is based on the comic book series by James O'Barr; who created the character to release some of his rage after his own fiancée was brutally murdered. The Crow has a basic revenge style premise that is enlivened by great production designs and cinematography. As viewers we are plunged into an ugly, grim society where criminals do as they please and the police are all but helpless to put an end to the massacre.

 

It’s no question that The Crow will be remembered for the sudden death of star Brandon Lee. Director Alex Proyas halted production for a month, after the death of Brendan Lee, but Lee's mother and fiancée who convinced Proyas to complete the film. Reworking the film added an additional $8 million to the $15 million budget, (thanks to CGI enhancements). Paramount, the original distributor of the movie, dropped it. Miramax, the new distributor, consulted the family and carefully marketed the film without exploiting the tragedy. Knowing its history makes this dark gothic film a haunting and unforgettable experience.

 

The Video

 

This new 2-disc release of The Crow marks the film’s second appearance on DVD, as this package replaces the old movie only edition.

 

The Crow appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, dual-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. This re-mastered version of The Crow came to it’s out most perfection, the movie looked absolutely terrific!

 

"So it was YOU who let one slip!"

 

Sharpness was fantastic from start to finish. There were no signs of soft or fuzzy images, as the entire film appeared crisp and well defined. No concerns with effects and jagged edges, a couple of print flaws cropped up occasionally, but they stayed modest throughout the film. I saw a few signs of speckles and a little grit, and some light grain cropped up, but otherwise the movie looked clean.

 

The Crow featured a very stylized color palette, this was the sort of movie that wasn’t actually shot in black and white, but much of the effect strongly resembled that kind of image. However, when colors did appear, they were solid and vivid, and I saw no problems related to bleeding or noise.

 

Due to the film’s dark nature, black levels became especially important for this film. The dark tones of The Crow seemed deep and rich, and contrast levels were excellent. Shadow detail looked heavy but never excessively thick. Overall, The Crow provided a breath taking/visual experience.

 

The Audio

 

The Crow included both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 mixes (thank you!). I thought the two tracks sounded virtually identical, but of course I’m going to plug the DTS version. The film’s sound field offered an engaging experience. Many scenes provided more specific audio and didn’t suffer from this minor failing. The audio used all five channels to a solid degree, sounds moved reasonably well between channels, and at times panning sounded realistic.

 

"Kick me in the jimmy and see what happens!"

 

Dialogue seemed mildly edgy and rough. However, most of the dialogue were acceptably natural and distinct. The film’s musical soundtrack seemed acceptably clean and crisp. I found that bass levels were fairly high and the low end seemed strong.

 

The Extras

 

Audio commentary: from producer Jeff Most and screenwriter John Shirley. A variety of production issues were discussed, the emphasis stuck with character development and story points, plus we learned about how the whole “Crow” legend fit into this movie.

 

Behind the Scenes: this program is about16 minutes; the show combines the usual mix of footage from the set, movie clips, and interviews.

 

The featurette is pretty interesting, as is A Profile of James O’Barr. This 33 minute program offers an interview with the creator of the Crow comic, this dude has major issues, it’s clear that O’Barr  has led a messed-up life, and his discussion of these events was brutally honest.

 

Extended Scenes: area provides three lengthened segments. For the most part the extra footage essentially just made the pieces more violent than they previously shot.

 

Original Poster Concepts and Production Design Stills: this segment shows 24 alternative advertising looks, 13 drawings that informed the appearance of the film.

 

Brandon Lee on the other end of the gun, fortunately.

 

Deleted Footage Montage: This five minute and 25 second section offers a variety of trims from scenes, some unused footage.

 

Storyboards: Drawings per scene; still-frame material appears as well.

 

DVD-ROM: Enhanced Playback Track, Screenplay View, Devil’s Night Retribution Trivia Game, and the weblink.

 

Sneak Peeks: No Crow trailer! We do however have other trailers, Scream boxed set, From Dusk Till Dawn boxed set, The Faculty, Break Up, and Phantoms.

 

Overall

 

This is one of my favorite films. So to ask the question, Should you buy or rent? Well it should be obvious. This disc was well anticipated for everyone who felt cheated prior to the first disc release of The Crow.

 

The DVD offered excellent picture positive audio and a nice mixture of extras. A solid DVD! Highly recommended!

 

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