Does “The Crow” Still Hold Up?


By Jerome Reuter

If you’re like me and grew up in the 1990s, this film needs no introduction. The Crow is without a doubt one of the most popular among teenagers from that time period. However, what might have been great then doesn’t always stand the test of time. Tastes change, times change, and people change. This begs the question: does this film hold up, or is it just a product of its time?

As far as nostalgia goes, I can still take a lot of joy in watching this one. Every time I watch I can’t help but reminisce. I’m reminded of how much fun I had when I had my first viewing. So many of my friends know every line by heart, and can’t help but chime in with Eric Draven. It was back when you’re still finding out what you enjoy in life. Back when popularity dictated a lot of what you might find satisfying.

I think what I still love most about The Crow is the soundtrack. The Jesus And The Mary Chain, The Cure, and even a halfway decent Joy Division cover by Nine Inch Nails. As much as my taste in music has evolved over the years, the soundtrack is still a favorite of mine. I even enjoyed Pantera’s Poison Idea cover. What’s not to love about that Taxi Driver sample?

Aside from music, I still find some of the visual work in this film exhilarating. There’s no other way to describe it, other than ‘noir for the nineties.’ The dark alleyways, heroin dens, nightclubs, and skyscrapers of the city all seem to come to life. Very few films these days can recapture the film noir aesthetic; this one has a really great updated approach.

However, there is a downside to this film. I feel it panders to a demographic, rather than tell a good story. After all, Hollywood executives aren’t storytellers—they’re accountants. With several subcultures going more mainstream in the early 90’s, it only makes sense that there was a new demographic to capitalize upon. In fact, there were quite a few. An adaptation of a comic book published in the late 80s makes the perfect candidate.

One could make the argument that it’s an action adventure flick, so depth isn’t something you should expect. However, it’s the timing that I want to emphasize. This came out at just the right time to hit its desired mark. Back when suburbanite teens who had never heard groups such as Christian Death, Skinny Puppy, The Sisters Of Mercy, or Bauhaus were convinced the Goth culture was just an excuse for playing dress up.

If a film like this came out today, I probably wouldn’t give it a chance. I’d most likely dismiss it as the latest teen craze, or another explosion happy endeavor. (I’m looking at YOU, Michael Bay.)

Despite these flaws, and my cynicism, there is a place for this one. It’s a great piece of nostalgia for my age group, and a product of its time. I also mean that last statement in every sense of the word. It might not be perfect, not by a long shot. However, it’s still a better product than what teenagers today are subjected to.

2 thoughts on “Does “The Crow” Still Hold Up?

  1. I was thirteen when this film came out and it is definitely an essential element to that period in my life. The music, the aesthetics, the angst, the story – I was primed tinder for those flames. I too wondered if my sense of nostalgia clouded my judgement of the film so I watched it with my wife last year. She’s a few years younger and does not at all have those same nostalgic references that I do. Surprisingly, we both equally enjoyed it. She was able to really connect with the story and found many of the scenes captivating – Brandon Lee really sells the dialogue. There’s wit and heart in this tale of black leather and pouring rain, and the violence is elevated by a genuine sense of justice. There were many films that pandered to the same crowd that The Crow targeted, but even then I was able to see through their shallow marketing. The Crow spoke to people then and now because it was about more than the music, the aesthetics, the angst, etc. It’s very much a time capsule, but it is a strong enough modern myth that it transcends all those superficial trappings.

    Liked by 1 person

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