Dunst, in spite of delivering a pretty shrill performance, works well off of Mabius and portrays an interesting enough character who becomes more and more vindictive when she learns Alex is actually a hero and her heroes the villains. Bharat Nalluri is able to help this entry stand out by painting it with a darker blue hue and grain that makes “Salvation” feel more like a low budget horror film. Mabius isn’t perfect in this role but he does look and sound very menacing when taunting his killers and reveling in their pain. He even manages to horrify a pedophile cop and scares the ever loving soul out of two innocent girls caught in the cross fire. The movie doesn’t completely sink as the supporting cast actually helps it stay afloat, particularly Fred Ward who is a most despicable villain who is the obvious culprit.
I don’t know if it’s the horrible editing or what, but the final moments are painfully jumbled as writer Goyer explains that Ashe’s power was taken so he was destined to be a wandering soul and drift through the world looking for the afterlife… but he also re-united with the spirit of his son and went in to the afterlife. Which is it, exactly? It seemed like Goyer and co. wanted to end the story in case the third film didn’t pan out but leave it open to interpretation in case Ashe and his tale continued on. “City of Angels” was a golden opportunity that was blown big time from a studio obviously hesitant to explore new realms of O’Barr’s story and just stick to the mold set by Proyas and Brandon Lee. Ashe, not surprisingly, did not come for the third outing. As if that wasn’t enough the third “The Crow” film was turned over to IMF Studios, a company related to Dimension and went on to visit the purgatory known as Direct to Video land, allegedly after piss poor test screenings.
They’re all so interchangeable and never quite pose a real threat to anyone. There’s a goon named Spider Monkey obsessed with the drug his boss Judah touts who suffers a fate involving a massive explosion that gives the director an excuse to use pyrotechnics. The explosion in the drug factory is eye catching but then once the crow flies past the palm trees setting them ablaze, I just scratched my head. Was that entirely necessary? Then there’s Rob Zombie’s “Boogeyman” blaring as Ashe emerges from the wrecked factory which would have been incredible had Ashe actually been somewhat of a charismatic force of nature who you’d be frightened of. The confrontation between Ashe and Spider Monkey is lame and I never quite understood why he was worth focusing on for a portion of the film. From there we follow Ashe through the city as he battles yet another annoying caricature Nemo, who dons a red wig because of his baldness and is a veritable addict of sex and voyeurism. How does that play out in the story?
Now “City of Angels” tries to be two different things. It tries to demonstrate some originality with its new story, but also relies on devices that hearken back to the 1994 original that shows the studios and Goyer really don’t have much faith in what they’re doing and want people to remember Lee’s film and invest just as much emotion in its imagery. Instead of a flaming crow there’s a crow formed out of shattered glass, and instead of devising new face paint for the main character, the protagonist Sarah paints him to look almost exactly like Eric Draven. And even Gabriel makes a few appearances! That wacky cat! While the story tries to chalk the face paint up to her obsession with Draven and the crow, this instead looks just derivative. There’s a considerable cowardice and exploitative undertone here that the Weinsteins rely on to try and keep this franchise in motion.
The final frame of “The Crow” reads: “For Brandon and Eliza.” Back before the opening of “The Crow” in 1994 life imitated art yet again as when just as filming was wrapping up, Brandon Lee was set to marry his fiancé Eliza Hutton a week after wrapping production much like Eric was set to marry Shelly a day before Halloween before tragedy took its toll Brandon was buried next to his father in a ceremony where reports indicate he was buried in his wedding tux. During the memorial service his future wife Eliza wore her wedding dress, never having children with him.
And not surprisingly, the media jumped on this horrific accident disgustingly describing his death as yet another victim of the “Curse of the Dragon.” In actuality it was the accident on the set of “The Crow” that led to his death, and not a ridiculous curse used to sell books and air time on primetime news with talking heads discussing the cursed Lee bloodline. Unfortunate human error has no place when it comes to making profit off of human suffering. The footage that showed Lee being shot was never used and promptly burned and Hutton has insisted that no one will ever see it again, thankfully.
Unlike the film, Eric and Shelly are stranded on the side of the road after celebrating their engagement and happen across T-Bird and his cronies who basically taunt Eric. Knowing his fate he makes Shelly lock herself up in their car, and he is shot in the head twice in spite of humiliating himself and begging the guys to leave them alone. About to die he is forced to watch as Shelly is torn from the car and gang raped by each of them very slowly. She then has her face stomped in after she screams, and is also shot in the head. To make things all the more disgusting, Tin Tin proceeds to continue raping Shelly even with half of her head missing. To add pure insult to injury the surgeons who take Eric in make jokes at his expense while trying to bring him back to life on the surgery table. Shelly has long been dead and Eric survives only to live a brief moment as a vegetable forced to endure jokes and mocks from surgeons unwilling to sympathize with his pain. Speaking as someone who knows what it’s like to have loved deeply and lost greatly, “The Crow” manages to speak to someone like me.
I cried when Brandon Lee died. I can still remember being a young kid still reeling from watching “The Crow” a week before and suddenly watching a news report about the death of Lee. Is that a bit over the top? I don’t know, I can’t say. I don’t think it was an irrational response, to be honest. In that age I was impressionable and very passionate about movies and I was becoming a huge fan of Lee. I’d seen “Rapid Fire” and “Showdown” a million times and he’d convinced me he was worth following in “The Crow.” I mean what’s so wrong with mourning someone you admired? People cried when Lennon died. People cried when JFK died. People cried when John Wayne died. Hell people cried when Bruce Lee died. So I don’t honestly think my reaction to Lee’s death was unreasonable. Because this man had every single aspect that showed he was capable of becoming a humongous star. And whether he became the neo-Bruce Lee or just faded in to obscurity, it didn’t matter. “The Crow” encapsulates everything that was amazing about Brandon, and if he moved on to doing nothing but cheap action movies, “The Crow” would have stood as his ultimate.
“Someday all things will be fair and there will be wonderful surprises.”
If my house was burning around me and I had to pick one movie from my collection to keep, I’d pick “The Crow.” Even over “12 Angry Men.” Yes, I think about these sort of things, because in the last month I’ve done a lot that has revolved around “The Crow” and Brandon Lee. I am finishing up a large fan fiction about “The Crow,” I saw “Rapid Fire” for the first time in a year on HBO, and one day out of the blue I had the strange urge to watch “The Crow” again, and for some reason it was kind of emotional for me. I can’t explain it, really. Movies make me emotional but that’s during the dramas and whatnot. Normally movies based on comic books only manage to elicit excitement from me and that’s about as far as it goes, but with “The Crow” it’s a movie I’ve seen a thousand times and for some reason this viewing on the morning of a Sunday, I found myself quite engrossed in it.