I recently heard a horrifying bit of news from a friend of mine. Specifically, that there is an upcoming remake of one of my all-time favorite movies, The Crow. The fact that they are remaking this movie at all scares me, especially when combined with how other remakes of movies I love are turning out. The fact that the director they chose to make it could barely handle a sequel to 28 Days Later, and that the actor supposedly set to play Eric Draven is one of the idiots from ‘The Hangover’ makes me cringe. I have little doubt in my mind the upcoming product will suck more then the vacuum of space, only coupled with the screams of millions of fanboys.
With that in mind, I decided to sit down and re-watch The Crow for the first time in a couple years. For those who have never heard of the film (Shame on you!) I will inform you. Based off of a cult classic comic book, the movie begins with the death of musician Eric Draven and rape/murder of his fiancee Shelly Webster, both victims of gang violence on Detroit’s yearly festival of anarchy, Devil’s Night. One year later, a spirit personified by a crow resurrects him from the grave, and guides him on his quest for vengeance, as he hunts down the ones who killed him and his bride so that he can at last go to the afterlife in peace.
The acting is surprisingly strong for a comic book movie, and the cast does very well portraying their characters. Ernie Hudson, of Ghostbusters fame, plays SGT Albrecht, the police officer who was on call when Eric and Shelly were killed, and helps Eric upon his return. Rochelle Davis, who gives a strong performance as the streetwise girl Sarah, and also narrates parts of the film, would never act again following this film. For the villains, Michael Wincott gives a chilling performance as crime boss Top Dollar, and David Patrick Kelly, whom some of you might know for playing Luther in The Warriors, plays T-Bird, the leader of the gang that killed Eric and Shelly. Yet no performance from the movie outshines that of Brandon Lee.
Brandon Lee, the son of martial arts and film legend Bruce Lee, had taken the role in an opportunity to break away from the martial-arts oriented films he had been stuck in prior to his landing the role of Eric Draven/The Crow. In a way few others could, he plays the melancholy, emotionally tormented undead hero effortlessly. Odds are good that this would have been his breakthrough role, but instead it would serve as his epitaph. In a tragic twist of fate, he was killed by an accidental gunshot during the shooting of the scene where his character Eric Draven was killed, a week prior to his own marriage. . The film was dedicated to both him and his fiancee, Eliza Hutton. If this film is any indication, like his father before him, it was a career and a life cut far too short.
The music is another benchmark of the movie, as the soundtrack is filled with gems from the golden age of grunge rock. The soundtrack includes original songs from bands like The Cure, Nine Inch Nails, Rage Against the Machine and Stone Temple Pilots. During the movie itself, the bands Medicine and My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult both make cameo appearances in the nightclub, and Brandon Lee has several guitar solos in the movie. And that’s on top of a fantastic original score by Graeme Revell, consisting of a stunning mix of stings and synth. The visual style and cinematography are both worth note as well, with the dystopic Detroit in the film making Gotham’s darkest nights look utopian mornings in comparison.
As a whole, The Crow remains one of the best superhero movies ever to grace the silver screen, even almost twenty years after its release. The story remains as grim and powerful as it the first time I watched it. The characters are just as endearing or menacing now as they were then, and Brandon Lee’s presence on screen is just as haunting as it is powerful. It’s at times dark and brooding, yet oddly enough, inspiring and uplifting at other times. The Crow is a must see for any and all movie lovers, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. If you haven’t seen it, do so at once. If you have seen it, watch it again.
In the end, that just leaves me even more dismayed that there is a remake in the works. The Crow is one of those rare movies that everything in the movie was perfect the first time around, and one famous for the death of its chief star at that. If anything, this once again proves your average Hollywood studio head cares nothing for critical legacies or making good films, just as long as they make money and get butts into the theaters. They can rest assured that mine will not be one of them. I can only hope that for once, the people behind producing the remake will bow to common decency and popular demand and not aim for a quick buck at the cost of defiling this masterpiece.
After all, it can’t rain all the time.