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The Crow: City of Angels(1996)
Ashe Corven and his son Danny are killed when they stumble across a pack of Los Angeles drug kingpin Judah Earl's drug dealers murdering a fellow dealer. Local tattoo artist Sarah, who knows the Crow legend because of what happened to her late friend Eric Draven, has been having dreams about Ashe and Danny. One night a crow leads her to the scene of their murders, and Ashe appears before her. The crow has resurrected Ashe, so he can go after Judah and his right hand man Curve. With the guidance of the crow, Ashe starts killing off Judah's men one by one, on his way to Judah.
For more about The Crow: City of Angels and the The Crow: City of Angels Blu-ray release, see the The Crow: City of Angels Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on April 17, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.0 out of 5.
Starring: Vincent Pérez, Mia Kirshner, Iggy Pop, Shelly Desai, Ian Dury, Tracey Ellis
Director: Tim Pope
» See full cast & crew
The Crow: City of Angels Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, April 17, 2011
Pain is my power.
1994's The Crow won't be remembered for its relative merits, Alex Proyas' chillingly dark direction, or strong box-office earnings, but instead the tragic death of Actor Brandon Lee during the shoot, a victim of an accidental gunshot wound during the filming of a violent action scene. For better or for worse, The Crow went on to find great success both with mainstream and cult audiences, which of course, as with any film that brings strong box-office returns, sparked an interest amongst the studio bigwigs in producing a sequel. With neither its late star nor its director with a penchant for crafting superior dark films playing a role in the new movie, a sequel seemed, at best, a shot in the dark. Sure enough, The Crow: City of Angels, released about two years after the original, was a commercial flop, barely recouping its budget through domestic ticket sales and floundering not because of the absence of Lee and Proyas but primarily because of a weak script and a rushed feel. The Crow: City of Angels isn't without a few positive merits -- primarily thanks to relatively strong performances by Vincent Perez, Iggy Pop, and Richard Brooks -- but it barely passes muster as a worthwhile theatrical film, often looking and feeling like a picture that would be more at home as a direct-to-video release.
Judah Earl (Richard Brooks) is a drug kingpin who runs Los Angels through intimidation and violence. The city is in shambles and everyone is both a target and a potential victim of drugged-up bad guys who live to push and take their product and kill anyone who gets in their way. Such is the fate of a father, Ashe Corven (Vincent Perez), and his young son. Both are murdered in cold blood by Earl's posse, which includes the aged Curve (Iggy Pop), the porn-addicted Nemo (Thomas Jane), the easily-persuaded Spider-Monkey (Vincent Castellanos), and the girl who pulled the trigger on Ashe's son, Kali (Thuy Trang). After being killed and left for dead in a watery grave, Ashe emerges from the depths as an unbreakable hero given a second chance not at life, but at exacting revenge on those who wronged his family. With the help of a prophetic and sympathetic tattoo artist named Sarah (Mia Kirshner), Ashe transforms into "The Crow" and sets out to exact revenge on L.A.'s worst.
The Crow: City of Angels is a picture built almost completely around its look. The story is fairly routine; a fair bit of the supernatural comes into play, but this is little more than a classic tale of revenge where the criminals are shady characters hailing from a seedy underground world that's depressingly and sometimes even maddeningly downtrodden -- hellacious, even -- built on nothing but sin and depravity. Indeed, there's almost a surreal quality to the movie's appearance; it's not dark in a Joel Schumacher carnival-inspired Batman sort of way, but is instead far more sinister and inhospitable, often looking more like something out of a Hellraiser movie, and certainly the way with which the antagonists carry themselves, that's more than an apt comparison. The picture is practically devoid of color save for dull shades of red, orange, and gold, which effectively sucks the life even further out of the story and reinforces the contrast between unnatural evil and supernatural revenge.
Unfortunately, the overwhelmingly dark façade only partially works to support the story and its themes. A dark hero and darker villains in an even darker still backdrop certainly paints a picture that's the very definition of an imperfect world, which may be the point, but it's difficult to find pleasure in a movie that's so devoid of even a hint of separation between the good and evil that exists outside of actions and words. It's a tough fence to straddle; it worked wonderfully in The Dark Knight, but even that picture wasn't quite as one-dimensionally dark and unforgiving as this. Director Tim Pope handles The Crow: City of Angels not with much flair but instead films as if the camera were a blunt instrument; the picture isn't rough, but it is very focused in its effort to bludgeon its audience with its one-track approach, reinforcing its dark story, darker visuals, darker still supernatural sensibilities, and all-around inhospitable façade with every passing frame. It's what the source demands, but the picture never really spreads its wings, so to speak, in an effort to find much value beyond the thematic black hole and depressingly hopeless backdrop in which the story takes place.
The Crow: City of Angels Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Crow: City of Angels debuts on Blu-ray with a 1080i transfer that retains the film's 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Unlike The Yards, which was chopped down to fill up a 1.78:1 frame, City of Angels remains faithful to the picture's original aspect ratio, not even cropping it slightly to remove all traces of "black bars" from the image. Unfortunately, it doesn't fare quite as well as The Yards in terms of its raw visual appearance. The 1080i transfer is often devoid of fine detailing; a few close-up shots pass for a high definition image -- take a look at the detail on Ashe's face as Sarah paints it for the first time -- but this generally looks little better than a fuzzy DVD up-convert. Colors are bland by design, but the Blu-ray offers up only a sloppy assortment of dull reds, oranges, and yellows, with plenty of gray and black backgrounds in tow. Blacks are marginal at best. The opening titles wobble quite a bit, some heavy banding and blocking are visible in foggy and dark backdrops, and occasional speckles are present over the image. Fortunately, the image is generally stable and is certainly watchable, but there's simply no real sense that this transfer is any better than a decent standard definition presentation.
The Crow: City of Angels Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The Crow: City of Angels flies onto Blu-ray with a serviceable but paltry DTS-HD MA 2.0 lossless soundtrack. Cheers for lossless, jeers for only two channels. This is a very crunchy track with absolutely no range and very little clarity. Background ambience is carried straight up the middle, and music rarely spreds out very far from the center. Rock tunes lack vitality, sounding only marginally better than a low-power AM radio broadcast. The track does manage a fairly rumbly, albeit sloppy, low end; explosions are delivered with a fair bit of power but lack much presence and tightness otherwise. Dialogue is fine, nothing special but it never gets lost or seems unbalanced. This soundtrack gets the job done, but does nothing out of the ordinary on the way to completion.
The Crow: City of Angels Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
No extras are included.
The Crow: City of Angels Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Crow: City of Angels is, at best, a superfluous picture, one that lags far behind the original and ultimately flops thanks to a ragged script and a go-nowhere story of revenge that in and of itself isn't bad, but never separates itself from other like-minded films. The picture is hopelessly bleak, both visually and thematically; it suits the material well enough, but the movie and its story are so linear and one-dimensional that the darkness doesn't really reinforce anything. It's there, it seems, only because it should be rather than because it needs to be. Fortunately, the picture is still a fair bit entertaining at a very base level, and a few solid performances make it well worth checking out, but chances are most will prefer the superior original. Echo Bridge's Blu-ray release of The Crow: City of Angels maintains its original aspect ratio but otherwise pumps out a very mediocre 1080i transfer. Accompanied by a flat two-channel lossless soundtrack and no extras, all but the most ardent The Crow: City of Angels fans would be best served giving this one a rental.
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The Crow: City of Angels Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Four Miramax Movies Coming up on Blu-ray - March 18, 2011
Early retailer information indicates that, on May 3, Echo Bridge Entertainment will release on Blu-ray four movies from the Miramax/Dimension catalog: The Crow: City of Angels, From Dusk Till Dawn, Halloween H2O and The Yards. No release details are available at ...
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