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THE CROW 30th Anniversary 4K release from Paramount releases May 7th

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THE CROW 30TH ANNIVERSARY 4K UHD can be purchased at retailers everywhere and on Amazon by clicking the image above.

Once in a great while, a classic film title that I've never had the chance to see before, finally makes its way to 4K, and I have the pleasure of bearing witness to it for the first time in the supreme format. Such is the case with director Alex Proyas' THE CROW (1994), a supernatural gothic-noir cult classic about a brutally murdered musician who resurrects a year after his death to seek revenge on the punks that killed him and his girlfriend. THE CROW was adapted from the graphic novel series created by James O'Barr in the late 1980's, as a way to deal with the grief of losing his girlfriend at the hands of a drunk driver.

THE CROW will always be infamously connected to the death of it's star, Brandon Lee who was fatally shot on the set after a prop gun malfunctioned and fired a live round at him during the filming of a scene. Lee's fiancée Eliza Hutton and his mother, Linda Lee, supported director Proyas' desire to finish the film and use doubles to complete Lee's shots. CGI was used to place Lee's face on the doubles, and it pioneered the possibility that an actor could be resurrected after their death in order to complete their work on their respective film. Six years later when Oliver Reed passed away during the filming of GLADIATOR (2000), they also used CGI and unused takes, quite cleverly, to salvage the film and restructure the narrative so the film would still make sense.

Brandon Lee's performance in the film is magnetic and endearing, It almost felt like a gothic hero version of Heath Ledger's Joker in THE DARK KNIGHT (2008). Eerily both actors died at the same age of 28 and would have their work take on a mythical status that would reverberate many years onward. Both films are also based on beloved comic books/graphic novels that continue to be remade over and over. In August of this year, Director Rupert Sanders will unveil his THE CROW (2024) remake featuring Bill (Pennywise) Skarsgård in the titular role. It will be interesting to see what innovations will be made to the look and narrative.

THE CROW (1994) was shot by the legendary Polish cinematographer Dariusz Wolski, who along with production designer Alex McDowell create some indelible imagery that is truly extraordinary. The cityscapes, background lighting and stark shadows are the real star of this film. It's simply some of the best in-camera visuals I've ever seen mounted in a major motion picture and arguably outshines the gothic comic book look of Tim Burton's first two BATMAN films.

While I don't have a reference for what THE CROW looked like on older formats, I can say confidently that Paramount has delivered a home run with this new 4K transfer. The grain level is actually on the heavier side, in the best possible - at the movie theater in 1994 - sort of sense. I witnessed no signs of any kind of digital noise reduction work. Most importantly, in a film with this particular visual landscape, the deep black levels are tuned in to solid perfection, with no noticeable color banding. Audio wise, the DTS 5.1 mix is stellar as well, ranging from quiet rain drop whispers to bombastic explosions.

Although a film like THE CROW plays best during the month of October, you'll be thrilled if you pick up this new 4K release from Paramount, wether a lifelong fan or checking it out for the first time. It's also a great way to prep for the remake coming out later this year.


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