Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Wicked Prayer revisited

This is what I said then (condensed as this was my longest review ever).............

Well, after much waiting and build up, the film delivered the goods for me. Having followed the film for so long, reading all the scripts, etc, I had built up this image of the film in my head which frankly, I thought couldn't be matched. That image was not only met, it was surpassed. This is a more than worthy addition to the Crow franchise and one I feel a majority of the fan base will embrace. My only regret about the film is that it will not see a much deserved full fledged theatrical release. It is high quality work and it is a shame that a film like this is not given its just due, especially in light of the films that HAVE been given a theatrical releases of late that absolutely tanked at the box office.

4 Crows

What I say now................

Boy was I wrong when I said that "one I feel a majority of the fan base will embrace". I should have said this was a Crow film that like-minded fans would embrace. This is the film that basically soured me on the franchise as a whole. Not the film itself, but the absolute mean-spirited nature of the reviews from print/net critics and, to me at the time, the absolute short sightedness of fans. Some time has passed since my bitterness toward the fan base boiled over. I have come to the realization that I was too close to this project. I had insight that many didn't and wouldn't ever have. There was a good amount of emotional context that didn't make it from the script to the film, but unlike the average fan, I had insight to so was able to put the pieces together easier. There is no way I can view this film without all of that context therefore have no way of being able to see it as someone who totally disdains it sees it. I do think the film proved that the fan base as a whole was stuck on one thing; the first movie. For better or worse everything from the first film is burned into fan's consciousness and can't be removed. I will go down with my guns blazing defending Wicked Prayer. It has a few hiccups, such as some of the worse dialog ever created for a character (El Nino, played by Dennis Hopper). But all in all, in my opinion, this film hit the core of what O'Barr's comic featured. Not only that, it featured a storyline I could all too identify with. I thought the blurring of lines between good and evil as well as having two righting of wrongs missions going on, parallel and in conflict, were a fantastic new element. I just watched this again recently and still feel it is the best film since the first one. I rated it 4 Crows originally and I stick by that rating.

The DVD release of Wicked Prayer was and is, for me, the best Crow DVD release of the 4 films. We have 4 commentary tracks from the director, producer, star and composer of the film. We have a comprehensive making of feature, deleted scenes, composer profile, etc. The film may have been a direct to video venture, but the quality of the images and sounds as well as extras gives the buyer their money's worth and then some. Unlike the previous 3 film's DVD's, I have no complaints here. My only complaint is that Jamie Christopherson's excellent score was never released. It is haunting and beautiful.

To see my full review of the film go here.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Rochelle Davis interview

As you know, Frank has kept up contact with Rochelle Davis since we learned of all the legal issues she was going through last year. As we reported last week, she is on the road to getting her life back on track. Frank contacted Rochelle recently about doing an interview. She has agreed! We want to solicit questions from fellow fans to ask her (to be approved by her manager of course). So we need you to get those questions in to me at . We will use as many questions as we can. This is going to be a great opportunity for fans to catch up with one of the most beloved actors/actresses from the first film.

The Crow: Salvation revisited

Here we are with our 3rd revisit, The Crow: Salvation

What I said then..........

We first see Alex in his cell, playing chess with his lawyer and awaiting the walk to the execution chamber. Eric Mabius does a great job conveying the emotions of his impending doom and his frustration in not apprehending the real killer of his girlfriend. His focus is more on this failure than his impending execution. This establishes his love for Erin Randall and shows us his motivation for coming back while creating a connection with the audience before his death. This is a new twist for "The Crow" movies. Previously, we were not introduced to the title character before his death. Eric Mabius neither looks nor acts like his predecessors. There is much irony and wry glee in what Eric's character is doing. Mabius' intense eyes add to the unsettling image of his Irony scared face smiling at his enemies (Alex's face is burned by the helmet he wears during his execution, giving him the famous "clown from hell" look). I found Kirsten Dunst believable and genuine. Fred Ward is his usual feisty self. One observation I had was that the characters in this film are more realistic than the cartoon figures of previous Crow movies. The characters in "Salvation" are more identifiable with people with which we have everyday contact. Even the title character is not decked out in the "gothic" attire of the past. All of the soundtrack songs are appropriately placed in the movie. A prime example of this is the song "Antihistamine" by Tricky. It perfectly enhances the tone of the scene it is in. The ending is a vast improvement over that of COA's and is very satisfying. The new director, Baharat Nalluri, brings some innovative visual elements to Salvation, such as a new Crow-vision style, as well as other personal touches. All of these changes, as well as the previously discussed story elements, helped to make Salvation a very enjoyable viewing experience for me.

Overall rating 3 1/2 Crows

What I say today...........

This film has kind of been an up and down enjoyment for me. We were pretty active in the promotion of the film back in 1999/2000. So there was a personal connection to the film. This film had an air of controversy in that Dimension strung Pressman and Most along making them think it would get a theatrical release. It received only one release, in Spokane, Washington. Hardly a true testing ground for the film especially given the very minimal promotion it was given. The star and producers had to literally walk the streets handing out posters since no real promotion was being done by the studio. In the end, there was no intent for this film to be released theatrical. It's sole purpose was to be shot so they would have a 3rd film for a boxed DVD set. The cast and crew, despite all of that, rose above that and gave us a worthy addition to the Crow franchise. I have gone through periods where my enjoyment of Salvation has waned. But today I can say it is definitely a fun movie to watch. It is different from the first two in that it has a "normal" element about it. They tried to get away from a lot of the otherworldly aspects of the first two and they do that successfully. The score is my least favorite of the 4 films, but it works for what it is intended to be. The soundtrack is packed with some very good songs, though at times it seems they are trying to get every single one of the songs into the movie and it hops from soundtrack or score and never seems to have any quiet moments. The movie brought in a new element of mystery to the franchise and that was a welcome change. I think the mystery is a bit deluded though in that every step is easy to figure out. Were it me, I would have gone a different route and pointed to the Capt as the main bad guy but then pulled a switch on the audience and revealed it was Alex's lawyer that was pulling the strings. Mabius put a lot into this film, especially post production. He made himself available for every possible promotional venture. The film was shown at the 2000 Dragon Con and received overall positive responses. It ended up going on to be the highest selling action direct to video title of 2000.

I would say 3 1/2 Crows is still a spot on opinion today.

The Collector's DVD release of the film gave us a very good commentary track with the director, star, composer, producer and production design lead chiming in. It was the most complete commentary of the first 3 films. The other extras are short, but informative (the "making of" is disappointingly very short). As with the other two films that are part of the boxed set, there is a script DVD rom feature that is very nice. Would be great to see this on Blu Ray when/if that happens. You can read my full review of the DVD here.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Crow: City of Angels revisted

Here is another review from the past, The Crow: City of Angels (or COA as most fans refer to it as).

What I said then...........

I make no apologies for saying that I enjoyed this movie. However, I feel that production was rushed and important elements were not examined thoroughly enough. The theater run-time of only 84 minutes speaks loudly to this. The filmmakers never explored the Sarah/Ashe relationship in detail. Expansion of that element would have set COA apart from the first movie and given it more emotion. A better use of the flashback scenes between Ashe and his son Danny would also have improved the film. The majority of flashbacks concentrated on their murder, not their love. I thought Vincent Perez did an excellent job in his portrayal of Ashe, as did Mia Kirshner who played Sarah. In my opinion, fans that could not distinguish between the fact that Perez's Ashe Corvin was a totally different character from Brandon's Eric Draven, judged Perez too harshly. There is so much about COA that is very good. The yellow/green tint, used throughout the movie, was both original and effective. It gave the feeling of a barren, dry, dream-like Los Angeles. The premise of an avatar falling in love, after coming back, was very intriguing. The attempt to make a different movie was there, but somewhere along the way, originality was compromised for the sake of staying with a known successful formula. The following quote is from Frieda Noone who does reviews for Cinescape. I saw this quote on the site "A Dead Man Visits You", and I think it sums up COA perfectly: "If you accept that the CROW: City of Angels is not really a movie, then it's quite possible to enjoy it. More a visually intense tone poem than a film, City of Angels resembles a lavish picture book - which is the medium from which the CROW films sprang." Very well said indeed.

Rating - 3 Crows

What I say now...............

Again, like the first film, this one has not lost any luster with me over the years. If anything, I have grown to appreciate it even more for what was attempted, but ultimately damaged by too many fingers in the post production cookie jar. Looking back, I think they should have made the Sarah character a person who had a connection to the dead, not a connection to the Crow or the previous film. COA, more so than any of the other sequels, has grown in legend for what was NOT featured on screen. Fans have long pined for the deleted footage to be put back in and the film assembled in the original form and context that Pope had intended. Would this change the minds of those that to this day have to reach for the Pepto at the mere mention of COA? Personally, no. I think if you hated the film then you would hate it with the deleted footage restored and the context Pope intended. I think it would win over some fans that didn't necessarily hate it, but all in all, if you hated it in 1996, you would hate it today even restored to what it was intended to be. I have personally seen 4 or 5 cuts of this film and I just don't think there is enough that would bring the masses of haters over to our side. I think all in all this film came out too soon after the original and the concept was lost on many fans and for that matter, lost on the suits in the production offices. Tim Pope had a vision of a truly tragic and Gothic romance and unfortunately the ghosts from the previous film had not been laid to rest and many fans saw it as an inferior clone of the first film, no doubt helped along by post production tinkering by producers that all but ripped the guts out of the film and laid it out in the sun to rot. The one thing I think the deleted footage would help fans appreciate more is the excellent performance from Vincent Perez. There was some absolutely great stuff deleted, such as his self-destructive moment with Spider Monkey and the original intended tragic ending. To this day I cringe when I see the pseudo happy/sad ending that made it to the final cut. I will say that one required re-shoot was a wise decision and that was the original Kali/Ashe fight which in it's original form was very week. The re-shoot is one of my favorite scenes from the film, though the deleted confrontation on the street after the fight between the mortally wounded Kali and Ashe is deeply missed. I have found that with the passing of time, more and more people are coming to appreciate COA more than they did back when it first came out.

Still a solid "3 Crow" rating in my book, maybe even 3 1/2 Crows.

The Collectors DVD release of this film is good, but like the first film, lacks some important features. The "making of" is VERY informative. The commentary track is frank and open. Alex McDowell (production designer for the first two Crow films) all but spells out the butchering that the producers did to the film, commenting many times about how their vision and Tim Pope's vision were worlds apart and ultimately the film lost its soul in the editing. The DVD-rom features a rare find for many fans, the full Chet Williamson novelization of the film, which is very hard to find in any stores. Of course the omitting of deleted scenes as well as none of the music videos featured on the VHS release make this DVD, like the film, a great concept but in the end lacking everything to make it a full viewing experience. Hopefully when this makes it to Blu Ray these omissions can be taken care of and maybe even some righting of wrongs and allowing Tim Pope to put together a TRUE director's cut, not the supposed Director's Cut that the DVD box claims it is today.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Cast updates

Thanks to Frank for this update on Bai Ling. Here is the latest. Let's hope this is the last we see of her in trouble.

Also an update from Frank on the latest with Rochelle Davis (Sarah from the first film). She is doing well with plans to marry. She has gone through a lot of stuff over the last year but it appears things are on the right track. I spoke with Robert Zuckerman and let him know about the issues Rochelle was having last year. He was able to make contact and I know he reached out with a lot of love to her. Our personal wishes and prayers are with Rochelle and hope for nothing but the best for her and her son and the new life they are about to have.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Let the reviews begin!

Hello everyone. As I mentioned the other day, while things are slow on the news front, we thought it would be interesting to revisit our reviews from years back and see how opinions may have changed (good or bad) or not even at all, over the years. One thing you will notice about these reviews, they are pretentious free! I am absolutely tired of these 3 and 4 page reviews that spend the majority of the review giving you the background of why the reviewer has the opinion they have, explaining their love or admiration for the source material or for like-movies or just simply go on some rant about this and that and finally by page 3 you get the review and by then could care less. We setup the reviews in a very basic format with a quick synopsis of the story and then my review. I am not posting the original synopsis, because, well, you more than likely wouldn't be here if you didn't already know about what I am talking about :)

Below is an explanation of the rating system I use. It isn’t high-tech by no means, but works for me:

1 Crow: Bad, can't recommend it.
2 Crows: Not the worst, but boarding on a total waste of time
3 Crows: Average, check it out but don’t pay full price
4 Crows: Excellent, highly recommend you check it out
5 Crows: Outstanding, perfection personified!

If you see something that has a ½ added to it that means it is a notch above the whole number rating, but not quit the next higher number. So if something is rated 3 ½ crows, that means I rate it higher than a "good" project, but not quit excellent.

So let’s get to it. The first film we will look at is what started the franchise in the first place, the original film from 1994, “The Crow”.

What I said then:

This is one of the best movies based on a comic I have seen. The performances, across the board, were excellent. Alex Proyas, acting as director and visionary, was able to recreate the look of O'Barr's alternative and gothic Detroit. Brandon Lee was elevated to God-like status for his portrayal of Eric Draven, but even more so because of his real-life death while making the film. The film was not shown until a year after his death. I remember being hesitant about watching the movie. I felt that it would be an almost sick voyeuristic peek at the life and death of Brandon Lee. I was finally able to overcome my initial reluctance to see the film. The story, which calls upon the basic premise of setting the wrong things right, touched a chord within me. I have long enjoyed movies that played on the revenge theme. However, I did not expect to ever see a movie filled with violence to be so poetic and beautiful. What sets this movie apart from other movies of this genre is the concentration on love and the extremes it takes us to. It is what continues to bring new fans to it even after 7 years. 4-Crows

My thoughts today:

Nothing much has changed about my feelings for the film 14 years later. I would say it probably isn’t the best comic to film adaptation I have seen, especially given films like Spiderman 2 and Sin City, but all in all, the film has held up for me. I don’t watch it as much anymore as I used to, but when I do, it still has a great affect on me. There are some films that you look back on and wonder how you ever thought you enjoyed it as much as you thought you did. There are many films I remember from when I was a teenager that I thought were just absolutely great and now, MANY years later, I watch them and go “meh, it is OK”. Not this one. It still remains one of my top 10 favorite films of all time and probably will stay that way. 4-Crows all the way.

We did a full-length review of the Collector's Series DVD release for this film back in 2000/2001, you can read it here. All in all, I was pleased with the release, but the politics that led to the release missing many items and contributors, mainly Proyas, still remains a sore spot with many fans. However, for all of its faults, you can not get a better edition of the film. They did a great job restoring the sound and images. I can not wait to see this film on Blu Ray. The O'Barr feature is still the definitive interview done with O'Barr. Some items missed by most fans on the DVD, such as the text commentary and script/view option only available via DVD-Rom, with the new technology could be made available via the player rather than having to be a DVD-Rom feature. Like I said back when my original review was posted, I hope that we can get a release of the film on Blu Ray that has all the players involved contributing. I'm not one of those that is clamouring for a director's cut, I would just like to have the fantastic making of "Crow Chronicles" finally seen by everyone, all the deleted footage brought together and for us to get a director's commentary. Not a lot to wish for :) I can not even imagine what this film will look and sound like in High-def, it will be great! As of today, no word on when that day will come.
Take Care.....Come what may