I saw on the internet that they are planning a remake of the Crow, not a variation or a sequel but a remake. My first thought was, here we go again – instead of choosing one of the poorer films and remaking it to be good one, they're taking the one that was damn near perfect first time out, the one that doesn't need a remake, and making it again. It seems to be the pattern.
My second thought was that maybe I should watch the four Crow movies again.
So I did.
The first crow movie is, as I said, damn near perfect. It's visually stylish. Underneath the violence it has heart and even a streak of sentimentality. Brandon Lee's performance is excellent and the only thing that mars the movie slightly for me is that there is a small but significant change to the original comic book. In that, the original crime was genuinely motiveless – mayhem and murder for its own sake. The movie adds a reason in the interests of plot and to my mind that undermines the actions of the Crow. Still, it's a small point in an otherwise favourite movie.
Crow: City of Angels and Crow:Salvation are the second and third movies in the franchise and there are a couple of serious flaws that they share. The first is that the directors (Tim Pope and Bharat Nalluri respectively) both choose visuals over sense. Sensible and consistent plotting is secondary to whichever visual conceit has crossed the director's mind. So, for example, in City of Angels the Crow erupts out of the water where his mortal form was drowned and hangs in a crucifiction pose hovering in the air. There's no explanation and moments later he is apparently back in the water and dragging himself painfully up onto the pier. It looks good but it makes no sense. Similarly in Salvation the villain likes to insert screws into his arm causing the major scarring that's the main plot driver but no reason is ever given for it, just as no reason is ever given as to how or why he has a secret and rather gruesome taxidermy lab completely unnoticed in the police station.
The second flaw is that both directors seem to have got the idea that a vital element of the Crow mythos is sexual fetishism. It's less of a problem in Salvation because it's at least vaguely connected to the story – in City of Angels it just forms a seedy backdrop to the action – but in either case it's a prominent feature of the movie.
With all that said Salvation at least tries to take the story in a new direction. Eric Mabius' Crow is both more menacing and more nuanced than Vincent Perez manages. City of Angels is just a pale, failed retread of the first movie with vastly inferior performances and scripting and that sexual fetishism is just about the most pointless thing in a pointless movie.
So, what about Wicked Prayer?
It's bad. It's excruciatingly bad. From the text-on-screen introduction of the bad guys to David Boreanaz ludicrous overacting to Edward Furlong's portrayal of the Crow as a petulant goth teenager, the whole thing is awful. And that's before we get to the stone bonkers plot about Boreanaz wanting to become the antichrist and bring hell on Earth or Dennis Hopper visibly making plans to fire his agent in every scene he's contractually obliged to appear in. It has about as much in common with the other Crow movies as a pet goldfish has with a great white shark. It's a bad Crow movie and it's a bad movie in it's own right.
For all that I don't hate it as much as City of Angels. Wicked Prayer is just utterly incompetent, City of Angels seems to have willfully distilled everything that was great about The Crow and then thrown it away and kept and amplified everything else. It rehashes the whole of the first movie in such an inferior form and with so much gratuitous rubbish that I actually find it offends me.
What, then, of the proposed remake?
Personally I'd rather see a new take on the tale but if the have to remake something, why not Salvation. Imagine how good it could be if it were remade with all of its flaws fixed; with the weirder plot points expanded and explained, with villains who weren't just cardboard cutouts.
That would be a movie worth seeing.