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Featured Blu-ray Review: The Crow

October 16th, 2011

The Crow - Blu-ray - Buy from Amazon

The Crow was released in 1994 and earned $50 million domestically and close to $100 million worldwide on a budget of just $15 million. It spawned three sequels, all of which were savaged by critics. Was the original better than the films it inspired? Obviously. But is it better by a large enough margin that it is worth checking out? And is the Blu-ray worthy of the film?

The Movie

The film takes place in Detroit, specifically a bad part of Detroit, where every October 30th is Devil's Night. On Devil's Night, the gangs run wild setting fire to as many buildings as possible and generally cause as much chaos as possible. Eric Draven and Shelly Webster are two of the victims this year. He is shot, stabbed, and thrown out of a window. She is raped and stabbed, and later dies in the hospital. The next day was supposed to be their wedding day. Sergeant Albrecht is one of the first cops on the scene. Later, as they are taking Shelly away, he meets Sarah, a young girl Eric and Shelly had been taking care of, because Shelly's mom, Darla, is a drug addict.

Flash forward one year and the same gang that terrorized Eric and Shelly are still on the streets, but so is Eric. Because of the violent nature of his death, his soul couldn't rest and he returns from the dead, back for revenge. While he's dealing with T-Bird, Tin Tin, Funboy, and Skank, he doesn't realize they were working for someone else, but this someone else learns about him and wants to stop him from interfering with his plans.

It's not a very complicated plot, but it is very well executed with a real sense of style and Brandon Lee is great as The Crow. His tragic death in a stunt gone wrong did have an obvious effect on the film and likely helped raise the awareness pre-release, but it also caused the film to be a little choppy at times. Also, while Brandon Lee is great and Ernie Hudson and Rochelle Davis (Sarah) are assets, the bad guys are almost all disposable. Of the four gang members, only Tin Tin seems to have any real personality, while Tony Todd brings his skill to the role of Grange. The rest of them are completely forgettable. A good villain should be a character you can base an entire movie around. That's certainly not the case here.

The visual style Alex Proyas brings to the film, the writing from the original comic by James O'Barr, and the acting by the lead is more than enough to earn a recommendation, despite the flaws.

The Extras

There are a lot of extras on this Blu-ray, including some that are new. However, there are also some extras from the previous DVD releases that were not ported over. Leading the way is a new audio commentary track with Alex Proyas that replaces the old audio commentary track. Like many solo tracks, the energy level isn't very high, but there's enough information given that it's worth checking out. There are extended scenes and a deleted scenes montage. The behind-the-scenes featurette runs 16 minutes. The meatiest extra is a profile on James O'Barr, which runs over 30 minutes in length. Finally, there are images and storyboards.

The Crow is a very dark film, so the video quality depends on the black quality, which is excellent. The blacks are deep without any crushing. The detail level is strong, although this emphasizes the use of miniatures. (I don't think this is a problem; it adds to the style of the movie.) Grain is present, but never excessive. Color doesn't play a huge role in the movie, but it is also not a problem with the transfer either. (Skin tones are never off, there's no bleeding, etc.) The 5.1 audio track has enough ambient sounds and directional cues, plus the bass is active when needed. Add in clear dialogue, and you have all you need for a solid audio track.

$15 is on the high end of the acceptable price range for a catalogue title, but still worth it.

The Verdict

The Crow only cost $15 million to make and was only a midlevel hit, so I wasn't expecting too much from the Blu-ray. It can't compare to $100 million hits made today, but I was still pleasantly surprised and it is worth buying.

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Filed under: Video Review, The Crow