The Crow – 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Steelbook Review

Mark Pacis

The Crow

The Crow, adapted from James O’Barr’s graphic novel, is a gothic revenge tale that attempts to blend dark fantasy with gritty action. While the film undeniably impacts with its unique visual aesthetic, it often falters in its narrative execution. As a result, the film becomes a somewhat uneven experience.

The story follows Eric Draven (Brandon Lee), a musician who is brutally murdered along with his fiancée. A year later, he is resurrected by a mystical crow to seek vengeance on those responsible. The premise is intriguing and rife with potential, but the film’s pacing and storytelling sometimes struggle to keep viewers engaged. For example, particular plot points lack clarity, and the narrative occasionally drags between the more compelling action sequences.

Alex Proyas’ direction stands out for its distinctive visual style, which creates a moody and atmospheric backdrop for the story. The neo-noir aesthetic and a haunting score establish an immersive world. However, the film leans heavily on these visuals to carry the narrative, which can’t entirely mask its structural weaknesses.

Nevertheless, Brandon Lee’s performance as Eric Draven is undoubtedly the film’s highlight. He brings a combination of intensity and vulnerability to the role, portraying a man driven by pain and love yet showing glimpses of the person he was before his tragic death. Lee’s ability to convey this complex character amid the film’s supernatural elements is commendable, and his commitment to the role makes Eric Draven an enduring figure.

Unfortunately, the supporting cast is less consistent, with the film’s villains coming off as somewhat one-dimensional. Michael Wincott’s portrayal of the main antagonist, Top Dollar, has an imposing presence but lacks depth. At the same time, the rest of his gang feels interchangeable, their motivations muddled and underdeveloped.

Action sequences are tightly choreographed, offering visceral excitement that punctuates the story. However, these high points are spaced out, leaving long stretches where the tension wanes. The film also explores interesting themes of love, loss, and redemption in a way that sometimes feels over-simplified.

Overall, The Crow is a film that ultimately falls into mediocrity despite its distinctive visual style and Brandon Lee’s strong performance. The story’s inconsistencies and underdeveloped characters prevent it from achieving the impact it could have had. Yet, Lee’s tragic passing and commanding presence throughout the film leave a legacy that elevates The Crow above its flaws, creating a bittersweet experience for viewers. The film is worth a watch for those interested in a unique blend of gothic visuals and revenge-driven storytelling. Still, it may leave others wishing for a more cohesive execution.

Movie Review: 3/5 atoms

Brandon Lee as Eric Draven in The Crow

The Crow hits Ultra HD Blu-ray with a native 4K, HEVC / H.265, Dolby Vision/HDR10 presentation with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The Crow is a film that thrives on dark, moody visuals with sharp contrasts between light and dark. This release, enhanced by Dolby Vision, offers a more precise and detailed picture than older releases. First of all, the bright and softer whites complement the film’s overall dark tone. At the same time, the blacks are deep and rich, improving everything from shadows to the characters’ black clothing without losing detail.

While the film’s style remains faithful to its noir roots, it has a few dashes of color. These pop from the screen and add depth to the picture. Also, the film’s texture and detail are exceptional, even in low light. Skin and clothing are rendered with such precision that every pore and fabric detail is brought to life. The natural grain adds to its cinematic quality, giving the film an authentic, cinematic feel.

Video Review: 5/5 atoms

Rochelle Davis as Sarah Mohr and Ernie Hudson as Sergeant Daryl Albrecht in The Crow

The Crow hits Ultra HD Blu-ray with a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio presentation. The audio on this Ultra HD Blu-ray is a treat for the ears. Presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, the same track used in previous releases, it echoes a ’90s style with its bold and dynamic approach. It delivers an intense sound that engulfs the room, particularly during action scenes and musical segments.  Action effects, like punches and kicks, are amplified for maximum impact. Atmospheric sounds, like rain, add a layer of realism to the scenes. The soundtrack seamlessly blends popular music and Graeme Revell’s score with crystal-clear vocals and instruments. Plus, the dialogue is consistently clear and well-placed within the mix, ensuring that every word is easily discernible.

Audio Review: 4/5 atoms

Brandon Lee as Eric Draven in The Crow
Special Features

The Crow has the following bonus features on the Ultra HD Blu-ray disc:

  • Audio Commentary with Director Alex Proyas
  • Audio Commentary by Producer Jeff Most and Screenwriter John Shirley
  • Shadows & Pain: Designing The Crow
    • Angels All Fire: Birth of the Legend
    • On Hallowed Ground: The Outer Realm
    • Twisted Wreckage
  • Sideshow Collectibles: An Interview with Edward R. Pressman
  • 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
Features Assessment

The Ultra HD release of The Crow is not just about the film. It also features new bonus features. A new, three-part documentary titled ‘Shadows & Pain: Designing The Crow‘ is a highlight of this release. Created for the film’s 30th anniversary, this captivating documentary explores the film’s unique production design with Alex McDowell, The Crow’s production designer. He recounts his collaboration with visionary director Alex Proyas and reflects on working with the late star Brandon Lee. Also on the disc, this release also includes an interview with the late Hollywood legend Edward R. Pressman, who discusses his remarkable career in connection with Sideshow Collectibles’ limited-edition figure of The Crow.

The remaining bonus features are legacy features from the previous Blu-ray and DVD releases. First, director Alex Proyas provides an informative audio commentary, sharing his creative vision and reflecting on the work of Brandon Lee. Meanwhile, producer Jeff Most and screenwriter John Shirley offer their commentary, discussing the process of adapting the original comic book for the big screen. The behind-the-scenes featurette takes viewers behind the curtain to see the production magic in action. At the same time, a profile of James O’Barr provides insight into the creator’s inspirations. Extended scenes and a deleted footage montage add extra layers to the story.

Steelbook Contents for The Crow

The Crow‘s Ultra HD Blu-ray release also includes a glossy steelbook case with a design that connects beautifully with the release’s slipcover.

Special Features Review: 2/5 atoms

While The Crow may not fully deliver on its potential, it remains a poignant tribute to Brandon Lee’s remarkable talent, leaving a lasting impression in the annals of gothic cinema. Despite that, The Crow offers a visually and aurally satisfying experience with decent video and audio quality. The bonus features, new and old, add depth by providing insights into the creative process and production history. While it doesn’t exceed expectations, this release remains a valuable addition for fans seeking to revisit this gothic classic or newcomers discovering its unique atmosphere for the first time.

Overall Review: 3.5/5 atoms

The Crow hits stores on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray on May 7th.

This Blu-ray was provided by Paramount Home Media Distribution for review purposes.