Anyone who knows me very well will know that I have some very firmly-held beliefs. Among these beliefs is that The Crow starring Brandon Lee is one of the greatest films of all time. As a lonely young teenager, the story of Eric Draven made my life bearable.
Like many people, that first movie is what first introduced me to the world of The Crow and it led me to seek out the original graphic novel by James O’Barr. And when I read that, it blew me away just as much as the first time I watched the movie. I even enjoyed the much-maligned follow-up film, The Crow: City of Angels. And even though I despised the next two direct-to-video follow-ups, The Crow: Salvation and The Crow: Wicked Prayer, I still own them. I also have a bit of fondness for The Crow: Stairway to Heaven, a syndicated, low-budget television series that continued the story of Eric Draven, replacing the ideas of revenge with redemption. Sure, it had a lot of bad writing and bad acting, but there were some real gems in the series as well, including the performances of Mark Dacascos and Marc Gomes. And if you have a chance, you should definitely track down Image Comics’ ten-issue series by Jon J. Muth, which took a similar idea as Stairway to Heaven, except did it in a manner far more faithful to O’Barr’s original story. And I also own the student-made bootleg film, which was extremely faithful to the graphic novel.
I’m a firm believer that given the proper team who view the original story in high esteem, The Crow could easily fly again. So when I first heard of the Stephen Norrington-helmed remake, I didn’t take the route most fans did and instantly decry it as an insult to O’Barr and the memory of Lee. You see, Norrington didn’t want to simply remake the first film. He wanted to go back to the source material and view it from a grittier angle. And as much as I love the first film and as close as it was to the original in terms of tone, they also took quite a bit of liberties with it (those liberties worked to the benefit of the story, but I digress).
So having a new version of Eric’s story told in a manner more akin to the way O’Barr told it? That would have been very interesting to see.
Now, word has it that Norrington has left the project. Before Crow fans rejoice, I want them to look at the reasons why Norrington left. This is from CHUD:
Unfortunately, the reasons Norrington left were sound and good. He left because the “big actor” interested in the playing the titular avian wanted the script rewritten. Fair enough if this was Norrington’s script, but this was the script Cave had worked on. Let me repeat that: They trashed Nick Cave’s script. Says Norrington: “As I had gotten involved explicitly as a writer-director my exit was inevitable. I was bummed. I had developed a genuinely authentic take that respected the source material while moving beyond it, and Nick Cave came in and added more depth. I think the fans would have been pleasantly surprised.”
That doesn’t sound good to me. In fact, it sounds like Norrington and Cave were going to do the story justice, but now it’s going to be butchered by the studios and some unknown “big name actor” (Norrington wouldn’t name names, but he said it wasn’t rumored choice Mark Wahlberg, whom Norrington claims he had no idea was approached).
Going with a big-name actor who wants to change the script doesn’t sound good to me. The Crow doesn’t need a big-name actor. Lee, despite being the son of martial arts legend Bruce Lee, wasn’t exactly lighting the world on fire when he was cast. His previous credits included Rapid Fire and Showdown in Little Tokyo where he played second-fiddle to 80s B-movie action star Dolph Lundgren (sidenote: Lundgren actually holds a masters degree in chemical engineering, so don’t listen to anyone who tries to paint him as an idiot — he’s a bad actor, but at 52 years of age, he can kick your ass both in a fight and in a classroom). The Crow was supposed to be Lee’s ticket to stardom, and it was–but not for the reasons he hoped (Lee tragically died in an accident during filming).
So Crow fans, be careful what you wish for. Yes, Norrington is gone and you’re probably rejoicing. But the cost may be a reboot of The Crow that’s even worse than what you predicted. Of course, as there are many in the fan community who seem to thrive on complaining, they may have gotten just what they wanted.