The Crow UHD Review

4.5 Stars Memorable, effective genre filmmaking
The Crow Screenshot

The Crow is celebrating its 30th anniversary and arrives on Ultra High-Definition disc for the first time. A dark and moody piece of filmmaking, it’s a classic form of origin filmmaking that we’ve seen before, and certainly myriad times since, but it remains a potent example of how to create a world, a hero, and a pronounced sense of mood and style. It benefits well from 4K and the Steelbook is among the best examples of design and integration with the design on the plastic sleeve. Fans will be enamored with this release, and it is highly recommended. Bravo, Paramount.

The Crow (1994)
Released: 13 May 1994
Rated: R
Runtime: 102 min
Director: Alex Proyas
Genre: Action, Crime, Drama
Cast: Brandon Lee, Michael Wincott, Rochelle Davis
Writer(s): James O'Barr, David J. Schow, John Shirley
Plot: A man brutally murdered comes back to life as an undead avenger of his and his fiancée's murder.
IMDB rating: 7.5
MetaScore: 71

Disc Information
Studio: Paramount
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution: 2160p HEVC w/HDR
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD, Other
Subtitles: English SDH, Other
Rating: R
Run Time: 1 Hr. 42 Min.
Package Includes: UHD, Blu-ray, Digital Copy
Case Type: Steelbook with clear sleeve with design
Disc Type: UHD
Region: A
Release Date: 05/07/2024
MSRP: $25.99

The Production: 4.5/5

“Believe me. Nothing is trivial”

Eric and Shelly, a loving and engaged couple, are murdered the day before Halloween, the night before their wedding, by a cruel, violent gang. A year later, Eric returns from the dead, guided by a crow, to take vengeance upon those responsible for his fiancée’s death.

Australian filmmaker Alex Proyas gave The Crow a perfect adaptation with his direction. Featuring moody cinematography (by Dariusz Wolski) and a mosaic of interesting angles and camera moves, Proyas infuses the production with a captivating and assured style. There’s a heavy infusion of practical and optical effects that work well for the nature of the film and result from such a modestly budgeted production. The film cost $15MM before an additional $8MM of reshoots necessitated by the devastating death of lead Brandon Lee before production had wrapped.

Based on the 1989 comic book series by James O’Barr, The Crow was written for the screen by David J. Schow and John Shirley, this revenge tale isn’t wholly original as a plot but the flair and flavor in which it is told is everything. Some postured the film wouldn’t have found cult status if it weren’t for the premature death of Brandon Lee, but I think that’s unfair to what the film delivers. It’s a film that provides exceptionally well on its story in an artistically potent way. Lee is deeply effective in the role and inhabits it with strong physicality and emotional vulnerability.

The Crow is dripping in endless rain and impressive gothic mood. Composer Graeme Revell’s score does the film a great service. Revell offers mystery and melancholy with his themes and marvelous instrumentation choices (like the duduk, a woodwind instrument used heavily in music from the Middle East, and ethereal vocalizations, with guitar, too, tying to the rock music theme). It sits aside, but above, a fine compilation of moody rock songs. It’s also a score as influential in film as John Powell’s The Bourne Identity turned out to be, inspiring homages and borrows for a generation of movies.

Brandon Lee is memorable in the role of Eric Draven, the man who becomes vengeance from beyond the grave. His eyes are filled with sadness even when he’s toying with the goons he’s bringing his wrath against. It’s a role that demands heroics nearly drowned by grief and Lee makes it work exceptionally well. Lee had such potential and his death was deeply tragic. Ernie Hudson plays the honest, sympathetic police officer, Albrecht. His likable charm and humanity are vital pieces of The Crow’s power, a lightness amongst the darkness without which the film would have been a tougher view. Young actor Rochelle Davis as Sarah is good, too, helping us know more intimately the goodness of the late Eric Draven and his fiancée, Shelly. Another vital ingredient played well.

The collection of nefarious criminals is one-note but memorable with the flavors. The knife man, the leader, the idiot, the drug lover. All of them are blatantly evil and, thus, disposable. Michael Wincott as the crime leader and Tony Todd as his well-dressed trusted assistant stand out.

I was 19 when The Crow was released and adored it immediately, captivated by the dark, moody, rain-soaked approach filled with a deep sense of gothic romance and almost poetic artistry that went into the production. Graeme Revell’s score was on nearly endless repeat for some time, too, and made me a lifelong Revell fan. I’ve always found 1998’s Blade with Wesley Snipes a film modeled after The Crow, not a sequel from the same universe, but rather a film inspired in some way by Proyas’ creation. Proyas even hints at a connective DNA tissue with Blade in his interesting audio commentary and I think he’s quite right. 30 years later, The Crow feels almost timeless. While the lower-budget special effects and use of miniatures stand out, the practical, tangible creation adds something interesting to the viewing experience and the film’s energy, creativity, mood, and artistic expression hold up well.

Video: 4.5/5

3D Rating: NA

The Crow has an almost monochromatic palette. Proyas mentions in the commentary that, besides red, color is limited or avoided (no obvious blues or greens), and it suits the film superbly. In 4K, the added resolution highlights the production design wonderfully. Filmed with 35mm and shot with J-D-C cameras (framed at 1.85:1), the film grain is protected and natural, black levels are lovely, and the Dolby Vision HDR grading is modest. Always a dark and low-lit film, The Crow benefits exceptionally from 4K.

Audio: 4.5/5

The Dolby Digital True HD 5.1 audio is full but relatively restrained. Dialogue is clear, surrounds active enough with the persistent rain, and Graeme Revell’s score benefits nicely. Explosions (and there are a few) are managed well. The subwoofer enjoys solid moments, and the mix is good. The soundtrack, with rock songs, Revell’s score, and sound design, is balanced well.

Special Features: 3.5/5

A mix of old and brand-new special features, including the three-part making of that runs about 25 minutes. The previously available audio commentary from Alex Proyas

 

  • Shadows & Pain: Designing The Crow– NEW!
    • Angels All Fire: Birth of the Legend
    • On Hallowed Ground: The Outer Realm
    • Twisted Wreckage: The Inside Spaces
  • Sideshow Collectibles: An Interview with Edward R. Pressman– NEW TO DISC!
  • 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

Overall: 4.5/5

The Crow is celebrating its 30th anniversary and arrives on Ultra High-Definition disc for the first time. A dark and moody piece of filmmaking, it’s a classic form of origin filmmaking that we’ve seen before, and certainly myriad times since, but it remains a potent example of how to create a world, a hero, and a pronounced sense of mood and style. It benefits well from 4K and the Steelbook is among the best examples of design and integration with the design on the plastic sleeve. Fans will be enamored with this release, and it is highly recommended. Bravo, Paramount.

Neil has been a member of the Home Theater Forum reviewing staff since 2007, approaching a thousand reviews and interviews with actors, directors, writers, stunt performers, producers and more in that time. A senior communications manager and podcast host with a Fortune 500 company by day, Neil lives in the Charlotte, NC area with his wife and son, serves on the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Charlotte Board of Directors, and has a passion for film scores, with a collection in the thousands.

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