Friday, April 8, 2011

Yay! Relativity plans needless reboot of The Crow, just in time to exploit the 20th anniversary of Brandon Lee's death!

There have been rumblings for years, but rumor became official news yesterday, as Relativity announced they were indeed planning a reboot of The Crow and that 28 Weeks Later director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo was on board to direct. Um, yay? We have a bleak and relentlessly violent comic book that was already adapted into a bleak and relentlessly violent film. So unless they are going to redo The Crow with a tone similar to The Phantom (slam evil!), I really don't see the point in rehashing the same story yet again. Yes, this is a perfect example of the 'must reboot everything that someone liked from the last 30 years' meme that has gripped the industry over the last couple years, but there is another uglier undertone to this particular reboot. Guess what famous Hollywood death is approaching its 20th anniversary?

James O'Barr's The Crow is not very well known as a comic book per-se. If the average moviegoer has heard of The Crow as a character/property, it's because they saw the 1994 Alex Proyas movie that starred Brandon Lee. And, let's be honest for a second, the one of the main reasons that film was even a modest hit ($50 million on a $25 million budget) was the free publicity and ghoulish curiosity surrounding the on-set accidental shooting death of Brandon Lee. Mr. Lee died on March 31st, 1993 from internal bleeding after being shot in the chest by a 'dummy bullet' (a bullet without gunpowder) that had accidentally been left in the chamber. Like a lot of nerds around my age, I can tell you exactly where I was when I found out about it. I was in sixth-grade music class early on April 1st. My music teacher, who knew I was a film nerd, handed me a morning paper with the breaking news circled. I was shocked to realize that, the very afternoon Lee slowly bled to death, I had been reading a short Entertainment Weekly article about 'trouble on the set of The Crow'. It's not quite 'where were you when JFK was shot or when the Twin Towers fell', but it was a pretty major event in filmdom. And, fifteen years later, when we got our first look at Health Ledger's Joker makeup, my first thought (alongside many others I'm sure) was that he looked exactly like Brandon Lee's Eric Draven...

How much do you want to bet that Relativity finds a way to have the new film ready for release by, I dunno, March 29th, 2013? Look, I like the comic book, and I rather enjoy the pulpy first film as a solid B-level comic book adaptation during that post-Batman pre-X-Men period when comic book films weren't exactly top of the genre mountain. I like the film's bleak tone, Lee's hungry performance (he was truly trying to prove that he could act), and I adore Michael Wincott's low-key nutso villain. But the property has had three films and a television series. I can't think of any good reason to tell the same story arguably the same way yet again, except to cash in on a most ghoulish anniversary.

But just in case I'm wrong, and just because I'm trying to be less crotchety, let me at least suggest that, if you must make another Crow movie, do have the good sense to cast Kyle Gallner. No one can do guilt-ridden and confused anguish like Gallner, and he certainly has something to prove as a genre action lead. If the ill-advised project must go on, than at least it might give a rock-solid young actor a shot at genuine stardom. Just please, make sure someone gets him a vest.

Scott Mendelson

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