Saturday, June 08, 2013

Penny Thoughts ‘13—The Crow (1994) **

R, 102 min.
Director: Alex Proyas
Writers: David J. Schow, John Shirley, James O’Barr (comic book)
Starring: Brandon Lee, Rochelle Davis, Ernie Hudson, Michael Wincott, Bai Ling, Sofia Shinas, Anna Thompson, David Patrick Kelly, Angel David, Laurence Mason, Michael Massee, Tony Todd, Jon Polito

It’s more than sad that the most significant thing about the movie “The Crow” is that it was the final screen appearance of Brandon Lee due to a freak accident on set that saw the actor and son of screen legend Bruce Lee killed by a gun shot during shooting. His first headlining role was in 1992’s “Rapid Fire” and with “The Crow” he was poised to become a new action star. Alas, it was not to be so.

I don’t think the fact that “The Crow” is a less than stellar movie would’ve slowed Lee down. It was a time when martial arts-based action movies were being spewed by Hollywood non-stop and surely another project helmed by one of the up and coming directors, like say John Woo, would’ve offered Lee an even bigger canvas on which to launch his super stardom. From what I could see, he wasn’t the best of actors, but the roles he would’ve been called to perform in his early career wouldn’t have required much. Surely, he could’ve returned for one of sequels to this egg.

“The Crow” was part of another movement by Hollywood at the time, a desperate attempt to recreate the success of 1989’s “Batman”. Many of the big name comic book properties were mired down in legal battles and pre-production hell, so many of the smaller studios were buying up lesser known comic book properties like they were liquid gold and spewing them out at a record pace in hopes of hitting the next big thing. Anybody remember “Tank Girl”? At least “The Crow” wasn’t that bad.

“The Crow” is important for one other thing. It marked the feature directorial debut of Alex Proyas, one of the many music video directors that brought a world of fresh ideas to Hollywood in the 90s. In watching “The Crow”, I get the impression that Proyas was under a great deal of control by the producers, which included Edward R. Pressman, who has a history of working with cutting edge talent, but whose experience in Hollywood also would’ve dictated a certain way to approach this unique material that probably stripped much of its uniqueness away. Proyas would follow up this project with his own “Dark City”, which offered similar atmosphere to “The Crow”, but in an uncompromised vision that proved to be one of his masterpieces. 

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