Sunday, 10 April 2011

The Crow: A Future Remake to Ruffle Some Feathers

The Crow: Descent (ft Foo Fighters) One of the best fan vids ever.

And so the new film adaptation of James O’Barr’s classic and much loved (by me and many, may others) graphic novel The Crow gets its new director after the last one, Stephen (Blade, LXG) Norrington, left over creative differences. The new megaphone wielder is 28 Weeks Later’s Juan Carlos Fresnadillo. Now I’ve no idea what the rest of Fresnadillo’s work is like but I thought 28 Weeks Later was excellent and almost as good as Danny Boyle’s now iconic original. So consider me reasonably happy.

But what this turn of events has done is once again bring in to question the continuing and seemingly unstoppable trend of Hollywood remakes and reboots. Many are crying foul over this practice with much wailing and gnashing of teeth from rabid fans about what they see as soon to be bastardised ruination of their own individual beloved materials. I’m guilty of this too, mostly around the upcoming Buffy remake. I also initially cried foul over Matt Reeves’ remaking Let the Right One In being that the Swedish original is a movie I love dearly and feel a great deal of protectiveness towards, just as I do with Buffy. However I quickly realised that as far as LTROI goes I was just being silly. The new film wasn’t going to harm or take from me the original. In fact, if I were really lucky I might even get two slightly different but equally brilliant versions of the same story. And that’s almost exactly what happened. I still prefer LTROI but Matt Reeves’ film is a worthy take on John Ajvide Lindqvist’s excellent novel and a great film in its own right.

Buffy, however, is a different story.

Just to be clear I’m not morally opposed to a Buffy reboot/remake sometime down the line. After all, the classic TV show was itself a remake/reboot of the original crappy 1992 movie. No, what I object to about this particular planned reboot is that Buffy, as (re) established by her creator Joss Whedon after his original script was fecked up by the 1992 film’s inept producers and director, is still ongoing and still popular. Her story is still being told by Joss and co. in a highly successful comic book series. What also really grinds my gears is the lack of total and utter respect for Joss in all of this. He was never even consulted about the proposed new movie let alone invited to work on it. I realise I’m probably being precious and over protective here. In fact, I know that I am. I can’t help it.

Yikes! And now I’ve gone off on a complete tangent.

I wasn’t intending to babble on about the Buffster and the unfairness of it all, honestly! No, this was supposed to be primarily about The Crow, and how, oddly, I don’t find myself objecting to this planned new film version.

Right then, so, back to the main point of this blog.

The Crow is a movie I love a great deal and is one of my all time faves. It’s a simple, mythic, darkly violent and tragic fairytale…with a bloody great soundtrack and an iconic central performance. I also love J O’Barr’s original graphic novel, which is a fair bit different to the 1994 movie, though the darkly poetic mood, as well as the pain and fury that burns up every single page is perfectly captured in Alex Proyas’s film. But what Proyas’s film also has at its heart to help lessen the almost overpowering fury and despair of the book is a strong, positive celebration of love and a belief that darkness and evil will not win out in the end. That love will indeed prevail.

The biggest problem I foresee for any new adaptation of The Crow is that the character and story of Eric Draven is so intrinsically linked to the late great Brandon Lee and to the tragedy that befell him on set. I can see one gigantic crow-shaped shadow getting ready to swoop in over anyone else taking on that particular role and telling that particular story. But this is not an insurmountable obstacle. An uncomfortable one probably, but not insurmountable. Already there has been the short-lived 1998/99 TV series The Crow: Stairway to Heaven with Marc Decascos as Draven. And despite that show not working (losing the film’s hard, violent edge in exchange for safe TV heroics and replacing the dark, oppressive, stylish look with flat photography and bland Canadian locations) Decascos did do a good job as Eric. But because the show made little to no impact it is mostly forgotten now.

To say again I really, honestly don’t have a problem with someone else at least having a go at making their own adaptation of O’Barr’s book and putting their own spin on it just as Proyas did with his film. It’s a simple, great story, a mythic, human story. One that deserves to be retold as all great stories do so long as its soul and its meaning is kept intact. Hopefully this new version will be good (unlike the lousy sequels) and I and other fans will enjoy it the same way that we can happily enjoy the many film and/or TV adaptations of other classic books and stories that keep on getting made.

However there is a caveat. Don’t try and make it in to a continuing franchise with Eric as the ongoing hero. His story is simple and final. Come the end he gets his peace, he gets to be with Shelley.

But whatever happens, for me at least, the original film of The Crow with Brandon Lee’s perfomance as Eric Draven and Alex Proyas’ directorial vision will always remain the definitive depiction of the character and story outside of O’Barr’s book. It just has so much genuine power behind it through the way it is told and the events surrounding it. But where I part company with many other fans is that that should not stop others from being able to retell O’Barr’s tale in their own distinctive way, to hopefully let it connect with new and future generations.

The Crow should continue to fly.


  1. Bradley Cooper as The Crow. Please let's hope it is not so.

    I'm up for a remake of absolutely anything. However, the weaker the original, the easier it is to remake successfully.
    The stronger the original, the more necessary it is to find a director with a very distinct vision who can balance what made the original great with a new unique take on the material (eg, True Grit).

  2. Oh, and I love this fan made movie. Brilliantly done. It helps it has the best Foo Fighters track ever...

  3. If they cast sodding Bradley Cooper as Eric then I take back everything I said in this blog.