‘The Crow’ Remake Looks Like A Soulless Hollywood Abomination
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‘The Crow’ Remake Looks Like A Soulless Hollywood Abomination

The Crow Remake

Credit: Lionsgate

Ever since I discovered a remake of The Crow was in the works I’ve had a bad feeling about it. I’ve kept meaning to write a piece with a title proclaiming that “A Remake Of ‘The Crow’ Is Sacrilege” because it really is, no matter how good the end product ends up being—though I doubt this one will be very good.

The 1994 version of The Crow was a lot of things. It’s one of those quintessential 90s’ movies, like Seven or Pulp Fiction, that’s one piece of that decade’s cinematic puzzle. Goth neo-noir meets straightforward revenge flick meets comic book sensibilities. It’s darkly funny at times. Brandon Lee as the vengeful hero, Eric Draven, was irreplaceably perfect. Watching that movie you can’t help but think—much like River Phoenix—he could have gone far.

Lee was not only perfect in the role, but extremely dedicated to his performance. During the shoot for his resurrection scene, he submerged himself in ice-water because he thought that coming back from the dead must feel extremely cold. He took the role very seriously, working closely with director Alex Proyas and stunt coordinator Jeff Imada to craft Draven’s character, including his unique fighting style and look, as well as his odd way of speaking.

Of course, Lee was killed during the film’s production when an improperly made dummy round was fired into the actor. The film was finished with stunt doubles and special effects, and it’s become a major cult classic. Given Brandon Lee’s death—he was just 28, four years younger than his father, Bruce Lee, was when he died—a remake has always felt ghoulish. But even beyond that, some films are just so entirely perfect (I don’t mean without flaws, but just entirely themselves) that a remake can never hope to live up to the original. Sometimes, we ought to let sleeping dogs lie.

It’s been 30 years since the original film came out, and three decades is still too soon to resurrect Eric Draven.

Now that I’ve seen the trailer for the new movie, I’m even more appalled. Behold:

I like Bill Skarsgård (and his father and brothers, too) but he looks more like Florida Joker than The Crow. Beyond that, there’s just something entirely wrong about this trailer. It’s so very polished and so very Hollywood. If the original was metal and leather, this is just plastic. Proyas was adapting the James O’Barr comics into something very dark and wild (Proyas would later make Dark City, another immensely stylish film). Director Rupert Sanders is making something that lacks all of that.

In the original, Michael Wincott was cast as the villain, Top Dollar, a vampiric crime lord just oozing charismatic evil, alongside Bai Ling as Myca. Danny Huston appears to be the big bad in this one, though it’s not entirely clear. Huston is a fine actor and is often typecast as a sort of corporate bad guy, but there’s just no comparison.

The new film looks entirely by-the-book, bringing just enough artificial trappings from the original to do a bad cosplay. But The Crow was all about the aesthetic. Roger Ebert described the original film as “a stunning work of visual style – the best version of a comic book universe I’ve seen” and in many ways I still agree with him on this count, even after so very, very many comic book movies.

Three other Crow films have been released since 1994. None have topped 20% on Rotten Tomatoes. Each has been a sad cash grab, riding on the coattails of a far better film made by far more talented people. It’s entirely possible that this new reboot will be better than those three, but it’s still an abomination—and not the good kind, the kind that come back from the dead for revenge.

I know we can’t judge a movie by its trailer, but this just looks wrong on every level. The song choice doesn’t help. You can’t get much more tone-deaf, and it’s clear that whoever is marketing this has never actually watched the original. Some suit picking a song the kids like from a hat. You could probably make this trailer a thousand times better just by using the same operatic electric-guitar score from the original film’s trailer (or any of the songs from the original film’s soundtrack, which included tracks from The Cure, STP, Nine Inch Nails, etc.)

But even then, is there anything in the new trailer even remotely as memorable as “Is that gasoline I smell?” And why isn’t Draven in makeup for most of it? That’s the look! He’s only wearing it in one segment as far as I can tell. And without spoiling too much about the original, the makeup represents a mask of revenge and hatred that is ultimately washed off as part of Draven’s redemptive arc. I’m getting angrier and angrier about this the more I type it out.

If all of this wasn’t depressing enough, the new film is reportedly just the beginning of a much more ambitious reboot plan.

“The Crow has been a very central and integral part of our company and I’m really proud of the progress and the work that has been done,” producer Sam Pressman told Deadline last year. “I think the movie is just going to blow people away. Our partners want to approach it in a very 360 way, whether it be video games, an animated series or a universe, but it’s got this cosmic legacy that can expand beyond a singular story.”

O’Barr said way back in 2013 when talks of the reboot were beginning: “I don’t have great expectations. I think the reality is, no matter who you get to star in it, or if you get Ridley Scott to direct it and spend 200 million dollars, you’re still not gonna top what Brandon Lee and Alex Proyas did in that first ten million dollar movie.”

Of course, it’s all about the money. Greed is good, yeah? But as Top Dollar said in the original film, “Greed is for amateurs. Disorder, chaos, anarchy: now that’s fun!”