THE CROW SOARS TO HD
The Crow is most well known for the tragic on set death of Brandon Lee. This is quite a sad testament given that whenever the film is brought up in discussion this is usually what comes to mind rather than the performance that Lee so brilliantly gave; a performance that to this very day holds up not only as the actor's greatest achievement, but as one of the most powerful and emotional efforts given by an actor.
The film follows the comic book created by James O'Barr, which sadly came to fruition after a tragic accident took the life of O'Barr's fiancée. James O'Barr has stated many times that the work on the book was often times daunting and that he struggled to finish it. For anyone that hasn't read the original source material I strongly encourage you to locate a copy of the graphic novel. The sorrow that O'Barr felt during his time of grief is ever present though the story which is so beautifully told through the Eric vehicle. Recently, an Author's Edition of The Crow was released. I personally do not own this version, but have heard that there were some good and bad changes made to it. If this is true, I suggest tracking down an earlier printing of the book that is left untouched. For you fans out there (myself included), recent news was released that comic book company IDW would be taking on the license to The Crow. A new series, as well as reprints of the original Caliber Comics issues have been discussed within the company.
For those unfamiliar with the film, the story is about rock musician Eric Draven (Brandon Lee), who returns from the grave to enact vengeance upon a group of ruthless killers who are responsible for the murders of both himself and his fiancée Shelly Webster (Sofia Shinas).
The Crow is a beautifully dark film full of style and substance; a trademark of director Alex Proyas (Dark City). A film of this subject matter could quickly become silly if it wasn't for the solid script that was written by David J. Schow and John Shirley as well as the tremendous performances from the rest of the cast. I personally love Michael Wincott's rendition of Top Dollar; a character with a slightly different angle in the comic book. Ernie Hudson also gives a great emotional effort as police officer Sgt. Albrecht; a character that plays both friend and ally in Eric's quest for justice.
Now, I would like to get to the disc. This is the Blu-ray edition of the film, so that means that all the bells and whistles that make this format exceptional are here. It's in 1080p High Definition as well as 5.1 DTS-HS Master Audio. The film looks amazing and even though it's a dark picture, there are things that stand out. Items that are of color in the film are especially more noticeable on screen than they were with the DVD format. I personally am more excited about the sound. The soundtrack sounds spectacular in this format and all the little sound effects have more depth to them. The cracking of the glass as Eric punches through Gideon's door is a perfect example of the sound quality on this thing.
With this being a new release, one would think that there would be more in the way of Special Features, but sadly that isn't the case. Although, the disc does have the much rumored commentary by director Alex Proyas that was withheld from previous releases of the film and is damn informative. There is a lot to learn in this commentary track so I would advise you give it a listen when you can. Some questions regarding the film are answered here and are finally put to rest. The Skull Cowboy sequence being one of the issues that is finally discussed by the one person the fans truly wanted to hear from the most. Other than Alex Proyas's long lost commentary finally being released, the disc just recycles the Special Edition DVD's Extras which is fairly disappointing. The extras themselves aren't the disappointing aspect. The featurettes and additional footage that are included are very informative and entertaining, but there is still a large amount of unseen footage and additional features that the studio has not, and seems unwilling to, release. There is a vast array of theories as to why this may be. One reason is over contract disputes and the handling of the films release to the home market. Whatever the reason is, it is a shame that anything would be held back from such triumphant film.
The Crow is a film and a story that I have enjoyed for many years. It is one of the few tales that I can return to time and time again and still be completely enthralled by both its nature and its atmosphere. If you are a die hard fan of this film then the purchase of the Blu-ray is worth it for Alex Proyas's commentary alone, but there isn't any new material here besides that. It's a great addition to any collection, but if you aren't into the HD aspect and you have the Special Edition DVD, you don't really have to pick it up. I am still awaiting the definitive collector's edition of this film and I can guarantee I am not alone in that regard. Here is hoping that Miramax gets that message and finally gives the fans and the legacy of Brandon Lee, the proper release this film so very much deserves.