Five reasons why The Crow should be rebooted -- and done better this time
Fans of The Crow rejoiced back in 2008, when we heard that it would be up for a remake. (For the two or three of you who didn't see the movie or read the graphic comic-book series, it's about a gothy-hot dead man with eyeliner who returns from the grave to exact bloody-gutsy-gory vengeance on a gang who murdered his girlfriend.) Now, after some hellish pre-production drama with director/lead actor swaps and a distribution lawsuit, it looks like this reboot of The Crow may finally happen, with Spanish filmmaker F. Javier Gutiérrez directing and, as of a few days ago, Luke Evans cast as Eric Draven.
The first version of The Crow got infamous fast when lead actor Brandon Lee was killed on the set -- but even that tragic turn of events wasn't enough to make the movie worth watching, and the terrifyingly horrendous sequels dug its grave. But with this new version, there's a chance that we'll finally get a movie worthy of James O'Barr's dark, tragic comic-book masterpieces. Here are five reasons why The Crow needs to be rebooted -- and done better this time.
A page from the graphic comics.
5. Because the first version sucked
Anyone who has read and understood James O'Barr's graphic comics on which the original movie is based knows that the screenplay veered so far from the source that it would take a crack team of specialists to extract a grain of authenticity. This was a crushing disappointment to O'Barr fans -- and probably O'Barr himself, who should have locked himself in a dark room and put black curtains over all the mirrors -- because there was so much really, really good material to work with. Making a few changes to keep the plot moving quickly and adding a few big names is understandable and often works, but director Alexander Proyas and screenwriters David J. Schow and John Shirley should have been the ones shot for creating non-comic-book characters that added nothing but confusion and stupid shock factor to the project.
Keeping it simple and keeping it closer to the original comics would have been the best way to go with The Crow, which is at heart a black, dangerous, poignant story about rage and loss. If the filmmakers wanted to blow off some excess energy, they should have brainstormed on how to get Edward Norton in the flick as one of the bad guys.
Edward Furlong---or Helena Bonham-Carter?
4. All of the sequels sucked worse than the original
It's not often that a slew of movie sequels have nothing to add to a franchise but a gag reflex; however, the three sequels -- The Crow: City of Angels, The Crow: Salvation and The Crow: Wicked Prayer -- were so poorly acted, poorly directed, poorly written and poorly conceived that I think I got brain cancer watching them. City of Angels had a couple of good moments with an Iggy Pop cameo and beautiful shots of a Day of the Dead celebration, but also plot holes you could drive a fleet of hearses through. Salvation (direct-to-vid) was not Kirsten Dunst's finest two hours, and who the hell is Eric Mabius? Oh, wait, no one knows or cares. And Wicked Prayer spent an entire week in theaters -- until it got yanked and thrown into the video bin because Edward Furlong looked like a huffy teenage girl, Tara Reid was on some peyote-infused Cleopatra kick, and I'm pretty sure Dennis Hopper got stoned and wandered onto the wrong movie set.
The only redeeming qualities to any of these movies, including the original, are the tight soundtracks -- but even songs from Nine Inch Nails, My Life With the Thrill Kill Cult, Pantera, Rage Against the Machine and the Cure couldn't make the movies marketable. When Iggy Pop showing up can't redeem a movie, there is something fatally wrong with it.
R.I.P. Brandon Lee.
3. Brandon Lee's sacrifice should not have been in vain
The Crow could have been up-jumped to cult-classic status based on the source materials alone, and then Brandon Lee would not have died in vain. The accident happened when Lee was filming the scene where he walks into his loft and sees his girlfriend being attacked by a gang of thugs; when one of the other actors went to shoot him with a handgun firing blanks, there was an actual bullet lodged in the gun barrel and the dummy cartridge exploded, launching the overlooked bullet at Lee, who underwent hours of surgery only to be pronounced dead on March 31, 1993. Lee was 28 years old, his death was officially ruled an accident, and the film was wrapped up with some creative stunt-doubling and special effects.
Becoming known as the film that killed an up-and-coming, attractive young actor who happened to also be Bruce Lee's son is a tough legacy for any movie to live down. For Lee's sake, it would have been nice for the finished film to have been better directed, acted (Lee was definitely the breakout, and he gave a stunning performance, unlike almost all of his castmates) and written, because The Crow was a lot of things, but a movie to die for sure wasn't one of them.
2. There is never a bad time for a dark, gothic, penetrating tale of vengeance
If there is a set list of characteristics that movie-goers enjoy, it would be sex, violence and revenge -- not necessarily in that order. The original O'Barr comics have all those things, with gritty, stark realism that should translate well on the big screen with the right vehicle. Main characters seeking revenge on bad guys is such a classic theme, it's no big surprise that vengeance flicks sell -- just look at popular revenge movies all the way from Commando to the Kill Bills, and films made before and after. People like revenge movies because they feel a sense of hope in a reality of chaos and lost opportunities, and filmmakers who tap into this rich vein are smart -- and often rich. With an upcoming Crow reboot, it isn't like anyone will have to reinvent the friggin' wheel -- just make sure the vehicle it's attached to is in good running order.
1. Because O'Barr's graphic novel is a masterpiece that deserves a better film adaptation
I would strongly encourage anyone who hasn't yet read James O'Barr's graphic comics to pick up a copy -- maybe the special edition, conveniently compiled into a single-volume book. While the comics are so good they'll almost inevitably be better than any attempts to re-create the story on film, there's no reason not to try. I would be duly warmed down to me cockles to see a decent interpretation of The Crow on screen, hopefully with all the kinks of the original film worked out, no fuck-parade of ridiculous sequels, and a new soundtrack with some chest hair -- d'yuh hear that, Killswitch Engage? The original comics deserve no less, and while I read recently that O'Barr himself didn't have high expectations for the reboot -- who can blame the poor guy? -- that also means that the new director, screenwriters and cast have nowhere to go but up at this point. There is always room for another cult classic, and if this new film works, I'll be the first one to buy the DVD and set it right next to my copy of the comics.
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