Saturday Night Comic Book … uh … something: The Crow edition

I’ve actually watched more of The Crow movies than I really care to admit. I like the first one well enough (I am a fan of Alex Proyas — Dark City is one of my favorite movies) and I’ve actually seen The Crow: Salvation and enough of The Crow: Wicked Prayer to count.

I hadn’t seen The Crow: City of Angels until tonight.

It was nowhere near as bad as I expected.

We first meet Sarah, who it is implied is the adult version of Sarah from the first film/comic. She’s now working as a tattoo artist in Los Angeles. Or rather, some music-video soundstage version of L.A. I know that at one point, Tori Amos was considered for this role, so it’s kind of funny to me that Mia Kirshner’s Sarah reminds me quite a bit now of Amanda Palmer.

The movie is all atmosphere and lighting — it looks like a mid-90s music video, with its cross-processed film aesthetic. This seems to be director Tim Pope’s only feature film — he’s directed a bunch of music videos before this — but it works. Screenwriter David S. Goyer, who for good or bad, knows comics, doesn’t waste any time with his script. Ashe, played by Vincent Perez, is immediately an incarnation of The Crow (he and his son were killed after they witnessed a drug-related killing) and alternates between brooding and hitting people.

I actually liked the character of Sarah quite a bit — she had a tough vulnerability and never came across as a helpless woman who needed saving. She held her own.

The movie moves along at a good pace — it’s not perfect, but it doesn’t waste time, either. It’s violent, but it’s all poetically stylized and it all feels unreal, although not in a funny, cartoony way. Only Iggy Pop’s character was really distracting. Everyone else played their roles pretty straight. I didn’t even laugh (that much, anyway) at Perez’s belly shirt.

This doesn’t seem to be available on DVD anymore, which is kind of a shame. Someone might want to own it. Granted, I had pretty low expectations going into it but I actually enjoyed it.


The Crow:
Stairway To Heaven
Buy at Amazon.com!

The Crow: Stairway to Heaven TV series seems to have grown out of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess as well as Highlander: The Series and more — there was a period in the mid to late ’90s where making sci-fi/fantasy shows seemed like a really good idea to people. And it was — especially for those of us who’d sometimes find ourselves without cable.

Hulu.com has all 22 episodes of The Crow: Stairway to Heaven. I watched two — the first episode, “The Soul Can’t Rest,” and episode 15, “Birds of a Feather,” which I picked mostly at random.

It’s not a bad series — it’s entertaining enough. It’s the sort of show that if it’s this or nothing, you’d be happy to pick this. But it’s probably doubtful you’d want to watch it for any other reason.

The first episode does a good job of condensing the general story into 43 minutes — Eric Draven comes back from the dead one year after he and his girlfriend were killed to extract revenge. It’s basically like the first movie, except with brighter lighting. Mark Dacascos does a good enough job as Eric, even if he seems a little vacant most of the time. I wasn’t exactly fond of the fact that the Crow makeup would just “appear” supernaturally instead of something Eric picked for his face, but it wasn’t a big deal.

“Birds of a Feather,” which was fairly late in the series, seemed to hold the mythology together fairly well — a doctor who had been killed along with her daughter returns as a Crow seeking revenge. Eric leads here through the process, trying to tell her it’s probably not going to be what she wants.

The special effects overall look pretty cheap, but at the same time, I feel like I’ve seen worse on the bits of Charmed I’ve seen and that was much later. The production values are adequate — it takes place in a generic city and the characters are all fairly generic, but there does seem to be some heart in it. I think someone definitely believed in this show. Do I ever need to watch it again? Probably not. But it’s kind of fun. It makes me wish there were many more live-action TV series adaptations of comic books. I think it works.

Reportedly, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen director Stephen Norrington is in talks to make a new version of The Crow. Why anyone would let him near another comic-book property, I don’t know, but I do think it’s cool that it’s a concept that continues to resonate with people, even now.

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