The Crow: City of Angels
Directed by Tim Pope. Starring Vincent Perez, Mia Kirshner, Iggy Pop. (1996, R, 80 min.)
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Sept. 6, 1996
More often than not, film sequels are inferior things, pale shades of their predecessors, born shrouded in a caul of Tinseltown greed sometimes months before the original film has even seen release. There are exceptions, of course: Among genre films, George Miller's The Road Warrior springs instantly to mind, as does George Romero's Dawn of the Dead, but continuations such as these are, regrettably, few and far between. I'd love to say that Tim Pope's take on The Crow saga fell into the latter category, but sadly, this isn't the case. Pope's film takes up some years after the events chronicled in the original: Sarah (Kirshner), the young narrator of the first film has grown up and apparently moved to some godforsaken metropolis that may or may not be Los Angeles. (Production designer Alex McDowell is back again as well, expertly filling the screen with complex, haunting images and backdrops of ruin; indeed, his intensely personal vision may be the real star of both Crow films.) It's here she discovers that another unjustly murdered innocent has been brought back by the great black bird to seek vengeance on his killers. This time it's Ashe (Perez), a young father who, along with his son, was brutally gunned down by a local crime kingpin and his motley crew of hyper-violent toadies. Among the worst of the lot is Iggy Pop, hardly more than an ambulatory mass of bulging, coiled muscles and pulsing veins. The others are merely fodder for the Crow's wrath, oddly generic victims to be set up and quickly chopped down. Pop, on the other hand, feels like an overfilled champagne bottle in a cyclotron; from the moment he steps onscreen, you cringe, hoping that when he finally does blow up, none of the shards clip your carotid on their way back to hell. And Perez as the Crow? Well, he looks good in black, but then so do I. Suffice to say, when people think of the moribund, brooding Eric Draven, they think of Brandon Lee, and this sequel isn't going to change that one iota. He's amiable enough in the pre-death scenes with his son, but vengeance from the grave and stilted line readings do not a legend make. One other thing that smacks of a put on -- and may be the most damning trait of all -- is the matter of the soundtrack. Whereas Alex Proyas' original Crow took great pains to weave a wholly thematic, wholly nouveau gothique tapestry, one that complemented the film alongside Graeme Revell's lushly tribal score, City of Angels is a scattershot collection of alterna-metal and Top-40 near-misses. It's this kind of rush job, market-niche attitude that nails the film to its chintzy balsa-wood cross. The romance of the original is nowhere in sight, and in its place is Courtney Love doing Fleetwood Mac. The horror… the horror….