December 13, 2008

The Crow

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The Crow is a 1994 American feature film adaptation of the 1989 comic book of the same name by James O'Barr. The film was adapted by David J. Schow and John Shirley, and directed by Alex Proyas.

The Crow stars Brandon Lee, in his final film, as Eric Draven, a rock musician who comes back from the dead to avenge his own murder, as well as that of his fiancée. While filming in the closing weeks of production, Lee was killed when a dummy bullet, which had become lodged in one of the guns, was fired into his abdomen.

Plot

On October 30, Devil's Night, Sergeant Albrecht (Ernie Hudson) is at the scene of a crime where Shelly Webster (Sofia Shinas) has been beaten and raped, and her fiancé Eric Draven (Brandon Lee) is dead on the street outside, having been shot and thrown out of the window. The couple was to be married the following day, on Halloween. As he leaves for the hospital with Shelly, Albrecht meets a young girl, Sarah (Rochelle Davis), who says that she is their friend, and that they take care of her. Albrecht tells her that Shelly is dying.

One year later, a crow taps on the grave stone of Eric Draven; Eric awakens and climbs out of his grave. Meanwhile, a low level street gang, headed by T-Bird (David Patrick Kelly), is setting fires in the city. Eric goes to his old apartment and finds it derelict. He has flashbacks to the murders, remembering that those responsible were T-Bird and his gang: Tin Tin (Laurence Mason), Funboy (Michael Massee) and Skank (Angel David). Eric soon discovers that any wounds he receives heal immediately. Guided by the crow, he sets out to avenge his and Shelly's murders by killing the perpetrators.

The crow helps Eric locate Tin Tin; Eric kills him and then takes his coat. He then goes to the pawn shop where Tin Tin pawned Shelly's engagement ring the year before. Eric forces the owner, Gideon (Jon Polito), to return the ring and blows up the shop, letting Gideon live so that he can warn the others. Eric finds Funboy with Sarah's mother, Darla (Anna Levine). After killing Funboy, Eric talks to Darla, making her realize that Sarah needs her to be a good mother. He visits Albrecht, explaining who he is and why he is here. Albrecht tells him what he knows about Shelly's death and that he watched as she suffered for thirty hours before dying. When Eric touches Albrecht, he receives the pain felt by Shelly during those hours. Sarah and her mother begin to repair their strained relationship. Sarah goes to Eric's apartment and talks to him. She tells him that she misses him and Shelly. Eric explains that, even though they cannot be friends anymore, he still cares about her.

As T-Bird and Skank stop at a convenience store to pick up some supplies, Eric arrives and kidnaps T-Bird. Skank follows the pair and witnesses Eric killing T-Bird; he escapes and goes to Top Dollar (Michael Wincott), a top level criminal who controls all the street gangs in the city. Top Dollar and his lover/half-sister Myca (Bai Ling) have become aware of Eric's actions through various reports from witnesses. Top Dollar holds a meeting with his associates where they discuss new plans for their Devil's Night criminal activities. Eric arrives looking for Skank. A gun fight ensures the deaths of nearly all present, with Eric succeeding in killing Skank. Top Dollar, Myca and Grange (Tony Todd), Top Dollar's right hand man, escape.

Eric, having finished his quest, returns to his grave. Sarah goes to say goodbye to him and he gives her Shelly's engagement ring. She is then abducted by Grange who takes her into the church where Top Dollar and Myca are waiting. Through the crow, Eric realizes what has happened and goes to rescue her. Grange shoots the crow as it flies into the church, making Eric lose his invincibility. Myca grabs the wounded crow, intending to take its mystical power. Albrecht arrives, intending to pay his respects to Eric, just after Eric is shot and wounded. Top Dollar grabs Sarah and climbs the bell tower as a fight ensues, with Grange being killed. The crow escapes Myca's grip, clawing her eyes and sending her down the bell tower to her death. When Albrecht is wounded, Eric climbs to the roof of the church on his own. There, Top Dollar admits ultimate responsibility for what happened to Eric and Shelly. In their fight, Eric gives Top Dollar the thirty hours of pain he absorbed from Albrecht; the sensation sends Top Dollar over the roof of the church to his death. Sarah and Albrecht go to hospital, and Eric is reunited with Shelley at their graves.

Death of Brandon Lee

On March 31, 1993 at EUE Screen Gems Studios in Wilmington, North Carolina, there were eight days left before shooting of the film was to be completed. The scenes involving Lee and Shinas' characters in their apartment had been saved for the end of filming so that Lee could work the final week without makeup.[2] In the story, Lee's character is shot and killed by Michael Massee's character. Weeks prior to the event, a scene was being filmed that required dummy rounds to be shown being loaded into the handgun. Inexperienced crew members, who were being pressured by time constraints, purchased live ammunition, removed the bullet, dumped the gunpowder, and then replaced the bullets back into the empty cartridges.[3][2]

When it came time to film the scene where Michael Massee shoots Lee's character, the same gun was loaded with blank cartidges. Unknown to the crew, the bullet from one of the dummy rounds had become lodged in the barrel of the gun. When the gun was fired, the propellant in the blank rounds—which is used to give the visible effect of a gunshot—dislodged the bullet, which was sent into Lee's abdomen. It is believed that someone on set was playing with the gun, pulled the trigger, and inadvertently caused the primer to fire; this would have resulted in the bullet moving a couple of inches into the barrel of the gun. As the production company sent the firearms specialist home early, the responsibility of the guns were handed over to a prop assistant, who was not aware of the rule for checking all firearms before and after any handling - this included checking the barrel for obstructions when it came time to load it with the blank rounds.[3][2]

Following the accident, Lee was taken to the New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington, North Carolina where he died about 12 hours later. Following Lee's death, the producers were faced with the decision of whether or not to continue with the film. Sofia Shinas, who had witnessed the accident, did not want to continue and went home to Los Angeles. The rest of the cast and crew, apart from Ernie Hudson, whose brother-in-law had just died, stayed in Wilmington. After two days, Ed Pressman announced that the film would be completed. The technicalities of completing the film following Lee's death added $8 million to the budget, taking it to approximately $15 million.[1] The cast and crew then took a break with script rewrites for the flashback scenes that had yet to be completed.[2] The cast returned to Wilmington nearly two months after the accident.[1]

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Reception

Critics

The Crow was well received by critics; review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes gives it a "fresh" rating of 86 percent based on 35 reviews. Reviewers praised the action and visual style.[4][5] Rolling Stone called it a "dazzling fever dream of a movie", Caryn James writing for the New York Times called it "a genre film of a high order, stylish and smooth", and Roger Ebert called it "a stunning work of visual style".[6][7][5]

The melancholy effect of Lee's death on viewers was noted; Desson Howe of the Washington Post wrote that Lee "haunts every frame" and James Berardinelli called the film "a case of 'art imitating death', and that specter will always hang over The Crow".[5][4][8] Berardinelli called it a fitting epitaph to Lee, Howe called it an appropriate send off, and Ebert stated that not only was this Lee's best film, but that it was better than any of his father's (Bruce Lee).[5][4][8] Critics generally thought that this would have been a breakthrough film for Lee, although James disagreed.[5][9][7] The changes made to the film after Lee's death were noted by reviewers, most of whom saw them as an improvement. Howe said that it had been transformed into something deeply compelling.[4] James, although calling it a genre film, said that it had become more mainstream because of the changes.[7]

The film was widely compared to other films, particularly the Batman films and Blade Runner.[8][9] Critics described The Crow as a darker film than the others,[7] Ebert calling it a grungier and more forbidding world than those of Batman and Blade Runner and Todd McCarthy for Variety said that the generic inner city portrayed in The Crow makes Gotham City look like the Emerald City.[9]

The standout features of the film for most critics were the fast-paced action and visual style. The cinematography by Dariusz Wolski and the production design by Alex McDowell were praised. While the plot and characterization were found to be lacking,[4][9][7] these faults were considered to be overcome by the action and visual style.[8][5] The cityscape designed by McDowell and the production team was described by McCarthy as imaginatively rendered.[9] The film's comic book origins were noted and Ebert called it the best version of a comic book universe he had seen.[5] McCarthy agreed, calling it "one of the most effective live-actioners ever derived from a comic strip".[9] Critics felt that the soundtrack complemented this visual style, calling it blistering, edgy and boisterous.[6][9][4] Graeme Revell was praised for his "moody" score;[9] Howe said that it "drapes the story in a postmodern pall.[4]

Negative reviews of the film were generally similar in theme to the positive ones, but said that the interesting and "OK" special effects did not make up for the superficial plot, badly written screenplay and one-dimensional characters.[10][11]

Box office

The film grossed US$50,693,129 in the United States, $94,000,000 Worldwide including $11,774,332 in its opening weekend. According to Box Office Mojo, it ranked at 24 for all films released in the US in 1994 and 10 for R-rated films released that year.[12]

Awards

In 1995, Graeme Revell won a BMI film music award for his score and the Stone Temple Pilots won the MTV Movie Award for Best Song for "Big Empty".[13] Also at the MTV Movie Awards, the film was nominated for Best Film and Brandon Lee was nominated for Best Male Performance.[13] The film received four Saturn Award nominations from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA, for Best Costumes, Best Director, Best Horror film and Best Special Effects.

Soundtracks

The original soundtrack album for The Crow featured songs from the movie, and was a chart-topping album. It included work by The Cure, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Rage Against the Machine, and Stone Temple Pilots.

A few groups performed covers: Nine Inch Nails rendered Joy Division's "Dead Souls", Rollins Band covered Suicide's "Ghost Rider", and Pantera performed Poison Idea's "The Badge".

The Stone Temple Pilots song "Big Empty" won an MTV Movie Award in 1995. It was not their original choice for the soundtrack. They recorded a version of "Only Dying", a demo they had recorded earlier as Mighty Joe Young, which was replaced following Lee's death.[14]

The bands Medicine and My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult also make cameo appearances in the film, on stage in the nightclub below Top Dollar's headquarters.
The Crow: Original Motion Picture Score consisted of original, mostly orchestral music, with some electronic/guitar elements written for the motion picture by Graeme Revell.


Source: Wikipedia

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