The Crow - 4K Blu-ray Review

Michael Scott

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The Crow


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Movie: :5stars:
4K Video: :4.5stars:
Video:
Audio: :4.5stars:
Extras: :4stars:
Final Score: :4.5stars:




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Movie

Abashed the devil stood and felt how awful goodness is…”

I’m not exactly a harsh reviewer (I try to find enjoyability even in lower grade material) but I also don’t give out 5 star film reviews that often. I reserve those for truly great films, and those which have made a lasting impression on the film world (ala The Matrix for example, as it has influenced sci-fi and action for over 20 years), so I RELISH those moments when I get to review one of my 5 star films on home video, and we have that here in 1994’s The Crow.

Trigger warning. There’s gonna be some unabashed fanboyism and gushing mixed in with the review, so bear with me.
Comic book movies didn’t really explode mainstream until the early 2000s with the Tobey Maguire Spiderman films, The Fantastic 4 and other movies which sort of paved the way for Marvel to take a risk with Iron Man (and now we’re absolutely drowning in Superhero films). But the 90s had their own fair share of comic book adaptations, with way more misses than hits, but also some REALLY fun and off the wall stuff. We had films like Blade, Keaton’s Batman, Mystery Men, The Phantom (poor, poor Billy Zane), Spawn (which I love, despite the fact that it’s objectively trash), the cult classic that would become Brandon Lee’s final movie.

The Crow is a dark revenge film straight out of the graphic novel of the same name, and it tells the tale of one Eric Draven (Brandon Lee), a rock musician who is murdered on Halloween along with his girlfriend in an eviction gone wrong. However, 1 year later, a mysterious crow lands on his headstone and resurrects him from the dead, giving Eric a chance to wreak vengeance on those who took his and his girlfriend’s life so tragically.

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The basic premise of The Crow is excruciatingly simple. Brandon Lee’s Eric is a off gotchic rock musician who comes back from the dead and literally picks off the men who murdered him one by one. It’s not overly ambitious in regards to narrative, but whatever it lacks in plot, the film makes up for in spades with style and ambiance. Alex Proyas absolutely steeps the film in early 90s gothic material, slathering the screen with black leather, crazy face paint, and a variation on Detroit that feels like it took inspiration from Batman 1989 and what would become his vision for Dark City (which is probably Alex’s most iconic film along with The Crow).

On top of that, it utilizes Brandon Lee’s best performance ever in what would become his FINAL performance as Lee is famous for dying literally during the last week of primary shooting. It’s hard to say whether The Crow would have garnered as much of a cult following as it has without Lee dying (kind of like The Dark Knight, it was a good film, but got shot to super stardom due to Heath Ledger’s tragic death), but nonetheless, it has gained that cult status for a reason. 1990’s goth rock and Dark metal blended with lurid gothic visuals, and Brandon Lee turning in a superb performance (what’s sad is we got a glimpse of how good he actually could act. Something that was downplayed considering he played in mostly B 80s and early 90s action movies), and what we get is a film that literally stands out among its peers.

Thirty years later I still get teared up thinking of Brandon Lee’s tragic death, and I STILL am absolutely mesmerized by the film. There’s some dated green screen effects going on, but overall the movie itself is visceral, powerfully scored, and has that absolutely perfect amount of 90s angst mixed into a blood soaked revenge action flick to make it one of my favorite movies. While Brandon himself turns in a superb performance as Eric, he’s joined with a heavy hitting array of great character actors, with Michael Wincott hamming it up as the maniacal mob boss, Bai Ling as his incestuous half sister (yay, incest is edgy in the 90s!), Tony Todd in a bit part, and David Patrick Kelly firing it up as the leader of the roving gang.I never tire of the performances, and rank it as the best movie Brandon Lee ever did. And yes,that means it edges out the absolutely amazing work of art that is Showdown in Little Tokyo.




Rating:

Rated R for a great amount of strong violence and language, and for drug use and some sexuality




4K Video: :4.5stars: Video:
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Paramount brings The Crow to 4K with a stunning new 4K remaster that doesn’t look to be tampered with. I’m usually nervous going into a catalog title 4K release from Paramount as it can go either way, but this time around we won the coin toss. The film is heavily grainy, and massively textured with gothic overtones, and the new master struck from this replicates all of that without scrubbing grain (the film is heavily grainy and gritty), while retaining stunning detail. The film is primarily starkly contrasted, with deep blacks, dark grays, and only splashes of primary colors (usually a fire hydrant, or some red blood etc). Otherwise it maintains a very dark and grungy looks that is almost black and white in how it looks. Daylight scenes have a weird sepia look to them, but the majority of the film is bathed in blackness. That being said, the Dolby Vision does a fantastic job at giving us rich and inky blacks that show no small amount of fine details in the dark club scenes, as well as brilliantly detailed outfits that looks like they came out of Hot Topic. There’s some VERY mild crush in a few scenes, but other than that, this is a wonderful 4K remaster of a film that is not exactly easy to get right.








Audio: :4.5stars:
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It seems that Paramount is re-using the same 5.1 DTS-HD MA track as found on the Lionsgate Blu-ray from 13 years ago (if not, it’s so similar that I can’t really tell the difference), and that’s NOT a bad thing. Like most 90s tracks, it sacrifices a little bit of finesse for ferocity, but this is still going to please people just as much today as it did then. Dialog is strong and clean, but the surrounds and mains are used to full aplomb with the Dark Metal/Goth rock/orchestral sound track that literally permeates every fiber of the movie. Surrounds are heavy and hot, and the bass channel never hungers for use. Back channel musical bits are strongly represented, and while the dynamic range isn’t massive, it still gives us some hot and heavy action bits. Simply put, a brash and action heavy sound track that really compliments the movie well with all that 90s sleaze rock (and even some Stone Temple Pilots near the beginning).







Extras: :4stars:
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NEW Shadows & Pain: Designing The Crow
-- Angels All Fire: Birth of the Legend
-- On Hallowed Ground: The Outer Realm
-- Twisted Wreckage: The Inside Spaces

• NEW Sideshow Collectibles: An Interview with Edward R. Pressman
• Audio Commentary with Director Alex Proyas
• Audio Commentary by Producer Jeff Most and Screenwriter John Shirley
• Behind the Scenes Featurette
• A Profile on James O'Barr
• Extended Scenes:
-- The Arcade Bombing
-- The Funboy Fight
-- The Shootout at Top Dollar's
• Deleted Footage Montage
• Trailer











Final Score: :4.5stars:


Simply put, The Crow is absolutely perfection for the genre, and still holds its own 30 years later. There’s been some halfway decent sequels (City of Angels wasn’t half bad, but the rest are garbage) and a new remake coming out this year, but the original will still go down as one of the best kept secrets of the 1990s, and ranks as one of my top 5 films of all time. Paramount has down an absolutely outstanding job with the 4K remastering and disc, but also has put out one of the best looking Steelbooks that I have ever seen. I usually say “steelbooks are for the collectors”, but I 100% would pick up the steelbook over the standard release this time around due to the fact that this is one of the most well done steelbooks I’ve seen in terms of replicating the mood and feel of the film itself (too many new cover arts look like some intern played with photoshop). It looks and sounds amazing, and the extras are really good as well. My recommendation is not going to come as a shock to anyone. This is a must buy.



Technical Specifications:

Starring: Brandon Lee, Ernie Hudson, Michael Wincott, Bai Ling, Tony Todd, David Patrick Kelly
Directed by: Alex Proyas
Written by: David J. Schow, John Shirley, James O'Barr
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 HEVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, German, Spanish, French DD 5.1, Italian DD 2.0
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Korean, Norwegian, Swedish
Studio: Paramount
Rated: R
Runtime: 102 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: April 30th, 2024
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Recommendation: Must Own

 
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VJM

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So good to hear this is a good looking and sounding disk!
 

Michael Scott

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Asere

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I was 21 when I saw it at the theaters. Pricey on Amazon yikes.
 

Michael Scott

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Volt 10 Surrounds
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2x Marty subs (full size with SI 18's)
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Sony 85 inch X950H FALD TV
I was 21 when I saw it at the theaters. Pricey on Amazon yikes.

amazon is out of stock and that's the third party scalpers.

they have the regular "non steel book" version as well

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Asere

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Denon AVR X4200W
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Parasound HCA 1500A
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SVS Prime Towers
Center Channel Speaker
SVS Prime
Surround Speakers
SVS Prime Satellites
Front Height Speakers
Proficient
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Subwoofers
Dual Kreisel DXD 12012, PSA S3000i
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Samsung PNF8500
Screen
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Harmony Ultra
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Panamax M5300 PM, Monster HTS 3600
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