Remaking “The Crow”: Bad Idea, or Terrible Idea?

This weekend, Variety announced that Stephen Norrington will be helming a remake of Alex Proyas’ graphic novel adaptation The Crow.

You might have known the moment it happened; it was as if millions of Goths cried out in terror, and were suddenly silenced.

The 1994 cult classic follows musician Eric Draven as he rises from the dead a year after his murder to take revenge on the men who murdered his girlfriend in between shredding some mean riffs on his roof. Though the film paved the way for innumerable grungy supernatural antiheros, its biggest claim to legend is the death of its star, Brandon Lee, during filming.

The franchise continued ill-advisedly through a theatrically-released sequel and two direct-to-video installments that did little for the Crow mythology. (Though employing Edward Furlong for a few months in 2004 was probably a good deed. Dude needed the money.)

Of all the movies calling out for remakes (can’t we just reshoot all of Liv Tyler’s scenes from Lord of the Rings and make everyone happy?), The Crow seems an unlikely candidate. The low-budget original had a certain fly-by-night (har) quality that made it very obviously a labor of love, and the movie’s structural flaws were smoothed over by the sheer style of it all. Proyas would pull off a similar trick five years later with Dark City.

However, the timing for a Crow remake in 2009 is questionable, at best. Competition is stiff: Christopher Nolan has taken Batman over to the noir side with enormous success, and Frank Miller has eagerly set up shop in the Mostly Monochromatic Workshop where he cranks out violent, poorly-plotted graphic-novel adaptations every two years whether the public wants them or not.

And let’s face it: even if the public was crying out for another installment of the emo, corvidian asskicker, Norrington is hardly the right man for the job. His last movie was League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (marketing title: LXG), a celluloid disaster equivalent to burning a bag of money on Alan Moore’s doorstep. It should have won him an injunction from every comic publisher in the world forbidding him to touch source material ever again; instead, he’s benefiting from Hollywood’s infinite capacity to offer second chances to male directors who blow things up. (If Crow 2.0 shoots two guns without looking, turns into a murder of CGI crows, or drives a souped-up Rolls Royce at any point, don’t pretend you didn’t see it coming.)

Luckily for purists, you won’t have to worry about the remake treading over familiar ground. Norrington promises, “Whereas Proyas’ original was gloriously gothic and stylized, the new movie will be realistic, hard-edged and mysterious, almost documentary-style.”

Realistic, hard-edged, mysterious, documentary-style: just like League of Extraordinary Gentlemen!

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