Most helpful positive review
22 of 30 people found the following review helpful
Best Crow sequel to date
on June 4, 2005
First off, for all of you posting reviews and not having seen the film, what are you doing? Ever heard of actually seeing something before you review it?
This review is based soley off the film itself, not the DVD, which is not due out for another month and a half. I recently SAW the movie (unlike the other reviewers here) and here is my review of just the film. I originally rated this film 4 crows out of 5 on my site. But given the fact that so many have seen fit to pre-judge this film and rate it a one without seeing it, I have raised my rating here at Amazon to a 5 star so as to balance things out somewhat.
Finally, after what seems like a lifetime, THE CROW: WICKED PRAYER had its official premiere at the AMC Pacific Place Theatre in Seattle Washington, on Friday, June 3rd. It will play at the AMC Pacific Place for a week, then it will have a direct to video release on Tuesday, July 19th. This review is purposely low in spoilers and scene specific information. It is not my intent to spoil the movie for you, but to give you my overall opinion.
THE CROW: WICKED PRAYER is inspired by the same-name novel by Norman Partridge. The story keeps the desert setting and satanic gang element from the novel, but changes up pretty much everything else. Luc Crash and Lola Byrne (David Boreanaz and Tara Reid respectively) lead a gang called the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse (Marcus Chong, Tito Ortiz & Yuji Okumato round out the gang). They have been individually wronged and together, they seek justice. To realize this justice, they must take the blue eyes of a girl with a Native American heritage and the heart of a killer. Enter Lily Ignites the Dawn and Jimmy Cuervo (Emmanuelle Chrique and Eddie Furlong). Jimmy is about to be free from the shackles that have kept him in town. His plan is to marry Lily and leave town, taking Lily with him. Unfortunately, this is not to be as Lily and Jimmy fall victim to the Four Horesman's plans. Jimmy comes back, empowered by the crow, to take his revenge and stop the gang from completing their satanic ritual. The irony of the story is Jimmy's revenge will mean he saves the town that despises him.
THE CROW: WICKED PRAYER marks a return to a stylized form of film making. Each scene, especially early on, is like a framed poetic piece of art work. That word "poetic" was used by quite a few folks when describing various scenes. The film/story is set in the desert Southwest. Everything has dust/sand on it. There is a natural haze that seemingly lifts once night fall comes. Gone is the urban decay of previous stories. This dusty/dirty atmosphere helps to establish the film as a modern western tale.
STORY / ACTION
This film presents a lot of social issues and those are played out nicely during the film. The local community is odds over the mine in their town being closed to allow for a casino to be built. The one thing that the town can agree on is nobody likes Jimmy Cuervo (Eddie Furlong). This conflict pits the Native American community against the rest of the community. This conflict, in part, lends to some of the reasons why the Four Horseman gang featured in the film are seeking revenge. The gang believes THEY are righting wrongs. This clash of missions with Jimmy's will make for some interesting discussion by fans. Also, the dislike of Jimmy sets his character up to be a truer representation of the anti-hero created by James O'Barr in his original story. This is the one element that really captured my interest in the script and it is played out beautifully through the film.
The story is spiritual in nature. Native American mythos are added to the ever growing mythology of this franchise. The satanic themes presented may or may not appeal to everyone. Some who saw the film with me were a bit bothered by the satanic imagery and themes. It didn't bother me because there is a balance of this super natural element a long with the Native American spirituality and social themes. In my opinion, the satanic element highlights the despair the whole gang is in and represents a reaching out to the easiest way for them to deal with their pain. These people are not entirely evil, which is evidenced through some very well done moments in the story where the gang isn't so sure of themselves. This humanizes these characters that have in previous Crow films been nothing more than cartoon characters lined up for the slaughter. Jimmy could easily have fallen into this gang. Were it not for the love of Lily, he may well have. It is this tip toeing of the line between who is good and evil that makes the story fascinating.
Action is straight on, not a lot of martial arts. Wires are used from time to time, but other than that, the action is raw and emotional. There are no car chases, no exaggerated fighting styles. This is bare knuckle action and it fits the setting and story perfectly. I really liked that the action was not over the top.
ACTING / DIALOGUE
By far, Eddie Furlong (Jimmy Cuervo/The Crow) gives the best performance in the film; and well he should. This is his film to either make work or not and he brings forth an emotional and tragic performance. He has some great lines and he delivers all of them dead on. Having read the script numerous times, I was anxious to hear/see his delivery of some of my favorite lines. He flat nailed them and in a few cases, really surprised me with a delivery I did not expect.
Emmanuelle Chriqui (Lily) who plays Eddie's love interest and catalyst for his return is fantastic. She conveys the beauty, strength and love that the role called for.More so than any previous film in the franchise, Emmanuelle (Lily) has a lot more to do in the story than just being the damsel in distress.
David Boreanaz (Luc Crash/Death) does a good job as Luc, though his later scenes channeling Satan are a bit too animated in my opinion. Luckily, he is not Satan for long enough to derail the film, but I would have liked a more reigned in performance when he finally channeled Satan. He does such a good job as Luc, it is a shame he ends the film hamming it up.
Tara Reid (Lola Byrne) gives a really subdued and tragic performance, she does a great job. I know she takes a lot of flack for playing the same character over and over, but she does bring an element of tragedy to Lola Byrne.
As for the rest of the gang, Marcus Chong (War) is the anchor of the gang and does a great job delivering, in many cases, poetic verses in the midst of chaos. Yuji Okumato (Pestilence) steals practically every scene he is in. He does a great send up of a wannabe cowboy and his "western" accent is a hoot. Some may remember him as the villain opposite Ralph Machio in Karate Kid 2. The biggest surprise was Tito Ortiz (Famine). I half expected him to be totally out of place amongst the "real" actors, but he holds his own and is a steady presence.
David Ortiz (Sheriff Tanner) is really good. His scenes with Eddie are some of my favorites from an acting/dialogue aspect. Danny Trejo (Harold) is always good and he delivers once again in a supporting role. Rounding out the cast is Rena Owen (Mary), who gives a short, but emotional performance. Richard Cumba (Moses), like Rena, has a short role but makes the most of it. He plays a preacher who has a past with Luc. His confrontation with Luc (Boreanaz) is one of David's best scenes. Daymond John (Proud Foot Joe) is OK, definitely not an actor, though he doesn't have a lot of scenes that require him to "act". He does have one of the movie's funniest moments when he comes upon a newly resurrected Jimmy Cuervo.
Dennis Hopper (El Nino) is good, albeit he is saddled with some of the worst lines in the movie. I never liked the gansta' lingo his character uses when I read the script and as feared, it sounds as out of place as it reads. Hopper makes what is basically a cameo, so his dialogue is not around long enough to do any real harm. The last performance to speak of is Macy Gray (Cara Mae, bodyguard for Hopper's Nino character). She is.....well, she is Macy Gray. Not even close to being an acting talent, Gray basically is a presence and thankfully, her "presence" is short-lived.
WHAT KILLED (what I liked the best)
The opening sequence, with its tip of the 10 gallon hat to THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY intro of the gang is great and sets the tone perfectly. Jimmy and Lily's intros are great. It was a nice to actually see both lovers alive at the beginning, where we can see them relate to each other rather than relying on flashbacks to establish their relationship. This adds strength to our empathy/sympathy for Jimmy later on. Jimmy's resurrection is done perfectly, a lot of emotion.
The music is absolutely fantastic. Jamie Christopherson's score is THE best, in my opinion, to date. It uses guitars, harmonicas, brass, all the elements that you would expect from a western setting.This is the first Crow film without the benefit of a rock soundtrack. In my opinion having a score-only soundtrack works perfectly given the desert setting.
As I mentioned before, Eddie Furlong's performance is spot on. He has the crux of responsibility in this film and he handles it beautifully. His character is very different from previous Crow films. He is torn when he comes back. He doesn't want to be there, he wants to be with Lily. Eddie does a great job conveying this pain. Eventually he accepts that this is the only way to be with Lily again. Emmanuelle is a dream, you can feel her love for Jimmy and the strength she has.
The villains overall are a much improved element over previous sequels. The beauty of this film is for the first time, we see the villains as humans. They have back stories that we are given glimpses into through their introductions and flashback sequences.
As I mentioned, Lance's style is great to watch. The camera angles and shots are beautiful. The editing is near flawless with some very nice transition scenes that go from real-time to flashback back to real-time with beautiful results. I would have to say that for the first time in the sequels, we have a very technically sound film here. There was great care and work put into this film during post-production and it shows.
Finally, the ending is one of the best since the first film from an emotional level. It is beautifully shot and executed; you will be moved by it. Again, the word "poetic" comes up time and again when I look for a way to describe the look and feel of this film.
WHAT DIED (stuff I didn't like)
My only complaint with the film is the first half of the 3rd act. This is when Luc has channeled Satan and he and Lola are married to further consummate the union. The wedding itself is fine, but as I mentioned before, David Boreanaz, in my opinion, is too far over the top. The dialogue David has during this part of the film is sprinkled with a tongue-n-cheek tone, but his delivery works against the intent, in my opinion. There are a few exceptions, such as when he and Reid are leaving the church he nails a line that is one of his funniest in the film and really got a great reaction. He obviously tries to take a page from Jack Nicholson's slant on the Joker from the first BATMAN film, but goes two pages instead.
Hopper's dialogue is cringe worthy in the first half of the 3rd act. I had hoped perhaps the delivery of the lines would improve them from the last script I had read. But as feared, the gangsta' lingo sounds out of place and I wish it would have been changed. Thankfully the 2nd half of the 3rd act gets things back on the right track with a fitting end.
Well, after much waiting and build up, the film delivered the goods for me. The film for me has been like a road trip. Since my site has covered the pre-production, production and post-production extensively, I feel like we have been a long for the ride. It was a road trip that has seen a lot of detours, missed exits, closed sections of highway and delays. But in the end, through all the miles of traveling and adventures in between, the final destination is worth it. 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 release of late that absolutely tanked at the box office.
LLcruize / Co-webmaster of A Boy & His Bird