Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Review: The Crow - City Of Angels (#CrapSequels)

World of Blackout: CRAP SEQUEL SEASON!

flms. srs bsns. We've all been there; Browsing in Blockbuster, the HMV sale or the bargain-DVD section in Sainsbury's, and we come across a plastic case which gives us an involuntary tingle of excitement. Someone's made a sequel to that movie we like! How did this slip under our radar? Why wasn't this on at our local cinema? Why are we only hearing about this now? Well, there's only one way to answer that question; it involves spending the requisite £3 and usually ends with the question 'Why did this get made, never mind how?'.

The rules for selection are as follows: 1) The film needs to be a poorly received sequel to a generally successful film (so no crap sequels to crap originals, and no crap remakes of originals), 2) Films from longer series are fine, but the choice needs to be part two of that line, 3) I'm not intending to watch any of the associated part-ones as part of this run (whether I'm familiar with them or not), so there'll be extra pressure on the crap sequel to work on its own terms. So join me as I delve into some of the crappest, most unwarranted follow-ups of all time (hopefully with a couple of underrated, misunderstood gems thrown in).

How bad can it be, right? I mean, the original was good…

CRAP SEQUELS! The Crow - City of Angels.

#CrapSequels: The Crow - City of Angels
Cert: 18 / 85 mins / Dir. Tim Pope
Year: 1996 (2 years after the first movie)

The general feeling: RT Score: 12% / IMDB Score: 4.5

This film was released in the same year as Trainspotting. Think about that for a second. File alongside Texas Blood Money as one of Miramax's poorer franchise-extending / money-grabbing decisions, unable to let a great thing just be. City of Angels follows Sarah from the first film, now a world-weary adult working as a tattoo artist in a decayed Los Angeles, apparently burdened with being the only nice person left in the city and with a script that stinks so much it can be classed as an environmental hazard. But fear not, supernatural fantasy fans, the combination of pretentiousness and hammy acting will soon make the script itself pale into insignificance, as the themes and events which made the story of The Crow so affecting*1 are rehashed and cheapened like a bargain-bin rip-off rather than an actual sequel.

Only fifteen minutes shorter than its forebear, the screenplay feels the need to rush through the exposition nevertheless, and Sarah's main purpose as a character seems to be to explain the story-mechanics to our new Crow, Ashe Corven; y'know, rather than have the impatient audience have to sit through another gradually unravelling plot as if this was some sort of film, or something. Plus that leaves plenty of time for The Soulful Pouting™ and more candles that you can wave a joss-stick at, which all the 1990s goths love even more than a coherent screenplay, if I recall correctly. Other than that it's dimly-lit setpieces and a lazy, uninspired retreading of the first film.

Ian Dury and Iggy Pop both star in this film. Badly. It's as if, not content to vomit down the back of early 1990s alt-culture cinema, 1970s rock is is going to get its trousers splashed as well. But at least Iggy has something on his CV that's more embarrassing than a series of insurance adverts, eh?

The film's fight-sequences have all the grace and co-ordination of a scrap in a pub car park, the wannabe-subversive sex and drug scenes play like a Da*ly Mail description of an orgy they were never at, and Vincent Perez's titular Crow channels more of Frank N. Furter than he does Brandon Lee. Oh, and our hero's calling card of a crow-shape around each bad-guy he vengefully dispatches looks more like a duck, half the time. Throw in the obligatory 1990s band-cameo from the Deftones and this is an all-round embarassment.

In the visual dictionary of Humanity, the entry for "Crap sequel" will simply bear the poster for The Crow: City of Angels. Thoroughly needless on an artistic and narrative level, such a transparent attempt to re-create the lightning in a bottle which was 1994's The Crow should be applauded.

Well, you'd applaud the film if it wasn't so transparently shit.

Have you seen this before??
Many moons ago, duped by a video rental store in a swindle which was partly the inspiration for the opening ramble of the #CrapSequels posts.

…but have you seen the original movie?
I have; many times back in the day, but not for a good few years, now. The last time I checked in, it wasn't ageing too well.

Do I have to have seen the original movie?
You sort of do, because City of Angels makes a pretty shit job of explaining what the hell's going on and why.

How many of the original film's stars returned?
In front of the camera, none; but producer Jeff Most and composer Graeme Revell both returned to the well (in Revell's case, to bastardise his earlier work), and Bob and Harvey Weinstein are guilty by association with the Miramax tag on the film.

Worth expanding into threequel territory?
No, but they did anyway. A TV series and two more movies followed..

Rent it, stream it, or wait for it to be on TV?
Just don't pay to watch it, for fuck's sake.

Ah, but is there a Wilhelm Scream?
I didn't hear one, but I was crying for a lot of the film, so…

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

Narrowly avoids bottom marks because some of the photography is quite nice, and also because I actually know people who enjoy this bullshit. I mean, they're people with appalling taste obviously, but at least I know the film's got some purpose…

And my question for YOU is…
The only thing I'm questioning after this is my fucking sanity...

*1 At the time, anyway. Like I said, I don't think the original's aged particularly well either, so this bag of shite had no chance.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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