The Crow: City of Angels Reviews
The Crow is back...kind of. Everyone even behind the scenes knows the franchise is better off on its own, as a half assed plot involving a man who lost his son to street violence resurrects and is powered by a crow, much like Eric Draven did in the original, but without the coolness to it.
So I really liked The Crow when I saw the original. The film is better than most superhero flicks of today and the titular character's bright eyed Joker-like wittiness and an atmosphere that rivals that of Gotham City is impressive. The Crow isn't a superhero film but the film prevails in that genre's feel. The Crow's previous actor Brandon Lee passed away on the set of the original, and the franchise should have been left alone. This is the first in a string of bad sequels, the other two I won't review (sorry, it's not like there's anything notable anyways). City of Angels feels like a bad fanmade movie with a bigger budget. The acting is off and sleazy, with nobodies as the main characters and a poor job at establishing characters. The biggest part of City of Angels is establishing a new Crow that still holds true to Lee. The new Crow isn't a tough, fearsome guy. It's an actor who is mainly involved in French films and it really shows. He has no wit or no talent and doesn't deserve donning the same makeup Lee once did. The film's atmosphere of a Gotham like area has been replaced with that of a crackhouse. The darkness yet nicely done grunginess of the original is now a druggie paradise, filled with dull greens of streetlights and an abandoned like town. Nobody seems to inhabit this town. Hell, the secondmost character isn't like Ernie Hudson's cop character, it's a tattoo artist who has little to no importance in the film. City of Angels is extremely poor and even angering in a sense. It's a slap in the face to Brandon Lee and the original, it's an excuse to get big money off of a soon to be tired franchise that was never meant to be a franchise.
With a character like The Crow, it's not unfair to say that the role is interchangeable. The character of The Crow in itself is largely a concept which can fit the profile of any vengeful soul against the forces of evil. The story is widely applicable, and so a sequel to The Crow about a different character is a welcome one especially because it doesn't impede upon the univese created by the original film.
There is a lot of confusing internal logic in the narrative. The bare basic elements of the story regarding how Ashe Corven is resurrected makes sense, but everything gets lost towards the end. Although Judah kills the crow and takes his powers by drinking his blood, Ashe Corven remains alive even after falling off a building. As we learned from the preceding film The Crow, if the crow is injured then it's soul becomes mortal. By that logic when it dies, the soul it awakened should too. Ashe Corven does not die, even though the crow does and he falls off a building. If there is some more deep explanation for this all then you can't see it in The Crow: City of Angels. The ending for the film was meant to be much different to fit Tim Pope's vision before Miramax came in and manipulated it so the truth remains a mystery, but in its current form The Crow: City of Angels remains confusing. There are many narrative problems in the film, but most of them come into play because of studio interference. As it is clearly mentioned. The premise of The Crow: City of Angels was intended to be significantly different from the original, but studio interference forced it to be recut to be as similar to its predecessor as possible. This is clear in the way that the narrative from start to finish of The Crow: City of Angels is practically identical to the original with slight differences in the premise. You can tell that there was a lot of potential in The Crow: City of Angels, even if the screenplay has generic dialogue. There are thin characters too, but there was potentially much more depth in the story until it was tampered with by Miramax. Frantically, it is hard to tell the extent of damage that Miramax laid down on the film, but you can tell that the directorial work of Tim Pope dictated that it really could have been a good film. Even with all the damage imposed by studio tampering his directorial work survives as the best asset to the film. Unfortunately, the film itself does not survive as much. The weak and overly familiar narrative in The Crow: City of Angels ensure that the film dies, but there is enough spirit in it to suggest that if it were brought back to life by a good director's cut then it could walk the earth again. But only time will tell, and for the time being viewers are stuck with a conventional, familiar and confusing narrative to tell the story of the legendary fallen hero.
While the screenplay is far from perfect, the general style of the film is good enough to hit the mark with the right viewers. The narrative flaws and involvement from Miramax prevent me from calling it a good film as a whole, but it is entertaining in many parts and as a whole was a worthy viewing experience thanks to the wortk of Tim Pope. Considering that Tim Pope is the popular director of many music videos, it is no surprise that his one feature film feels like a music video extended to feature length. In terms of style, it actually manages to work because the energetic and dank music combined with the dark and detailed production design give the film a truly gothic feeling which is thoroughly atmospheric. The Crow: City of Angels is an intense and energetic film with a perfectly stylish atmosphere, so it looks right and it feels good. The dark lighting of the film casts an interesting colour of shadow over the production which gives it a dark visual palette without making it impossible to see. The experience is occasionally damaged by the inconsistent cinematography which ends up a bit shaky or too close at times, but the majority of the time it effectively captures the look of everything very nicely. While The Crow: City of Angels does not have the most intelligent thoughts behind it, it general style of the film is undeniably creative which makes it hard to dislike.
The cast of The Crow: City of Angels also make a firm effort.
Vincent Perez is a strong casting decision as the titular crow, Ashe Corven. In contrast to Brandon Lee's performance as the first Crow which was soulful and sympathetic, Vincent Perez plays his rendition of the character in a far more sadistic manner. There are moments where the sadism borders on Heath Ledger's Academy Award winning performance as The Joker in The Dark Knight, meaning that his performance is correctly sick and twisted while he remains a fairly badass hero. Vincent Perez honours a character like The Crow with a perfectly sick and twisted performance without defying the likable elements of the character and his ability to put up a strong fight, so the image of him riding his motorbike through the streets sticks with me to this day.
Iggy Pop is also perfect. The legendary musician is too immaculate in the decision to cast him in The Crow: City of Angels because his rockstar nature and relentless energy is an ideal fit for the film. He is sadistic on a much lighter level than Vincent Perez, but his antagonistic nature is excellent. Iggy Pop's darkly glamourous performance in The Crow: City of Angels is awesome, and it encourages the nature of the music video style of the feature really well. It is awsome to see a musical legend like him taking on someone like The Crow.
Thuy Trang is decent as well. She deseved more than she got because the tame nature of her final fight scene is handled a bit too tamely and she gets minimal screen time, but she is still a welcome presence in The Crow: City of Angels. With her silence comes a haunting sense of wonder about her encouraged by the dark stare in her eyes. She brings a sense of darkness to her role simply by the way she stands and the way she stared, compensating for her lack of dialogue. It is a nice contrast to see her as a villain after she immortalized herself as the heroic Yellow Ranger Trini Kwan from Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, I just wish the fight scene they gave her matched up to her potential more..
So The Crow: City of Angels has an electric sense of style thanks to the creative production design, grim atmosphere and powerful performances from Vincent Perez and Iggy Pop. Unfortunately, the narrative flaws and tampering from Miramax leaves it unsatisfactory as an experience.
It's one of those very gothic movies without substance ... too much eyeliner ... very little intelligence and sensitivity.
Besides the crazy Iggy Pop this movie features the participation of another madman (unjustly forgotten):
Than you came to the right place!