The Crow: City of Angels
directed by Tim Pope
(Miramax, 1996)

I referred to The Crow as "an elegant dance of horror and death." The Crow: City of Angels, the first in a line of subpar sequels, is a frantic spasm of bad acting and worse direction.

I tossed this movie on the reject pile when I first saw it years ago. I recently unearthed it, decided to give it a second look and realized it is still as bad as I remembered.

The series deals with spirits of the slain who return from the dead to avenge themselves and their loved ones. The story in Angels -- with a father fighting back after he and his young son were murdered for being in the wrong place, wrong time -- has a lot of potential for emotional punch. But you never feel much connection with anyone in this flick, making it a fairly soulless experience all around.

Vincent Perez, as Ashe Corven, makes a horrible Crow. He goes through the motions, wailing and smashing defenseless knickknacks around him, but you never truly feel his anguish. You can't even tell if he was a good father; at one point, he considers dropping the whole revenge kick just so he can hook up with the hot tattoo artist, Sarah, who's played by Mia Kirshner as a catatonic blur. Sarah, of course, was the name of the kid from the first Crow movie with Brandon Lee, but there's no other reason for her being here.

Angels also tries to recreate the original gang of baddies, but this group is a pale caricature of T-Bird, Skank, Tin Tin and Fun Boy. Iggy Pop, as Curve, is the worst of the lot, overacting each time he takes a breath. Richard Brooks, as evil gang leader Judah Earl, is creepy, but he's too mystical, philosophical and emotionless to seem very threatening; I found myself longing for Michael Wincott. (Brooks channeled this character, much more effectively, years later as Jubal Early in an epidode of Joss Whedon's excellent Firefly series.)

It's also a shame that every scene in the movie looked like a movie set. Usually, directors try to mask that by making things look, I dunno, real.

The Crow concept is a winning idea, but Hollywood has bungled it at every turn since its initial success with Brandon Lee. It's sad to say, but the series really should have stopped at one.

review by
Tom Knapp

27 March 2010

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