The Crow appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. I felt pleased with this consistently positive presentation.
Sharpness worked well. Only a smidgen of softness ever affected wide shots, and even then, the mild concerns tended to stem from visual effects. Overall clarity remained solid, as the movie was usually crisp and concise. Moiré effects and jagged edges presented no concerns, and edge haloes remained absent. Digital noise reduction seemed to be mild, and print flaws were non-existent.
The Crow featured a very stylized color palette, one that often went for a very monochromatic look. As with films such as Se7en, this was the sort of movie that wasn’t actually shot in black and white, but much of the effect resembled that kind of image.
Nonetheless, when colors appeared, they seemed quite intense, especially since The Crow utilized a fair amount of strong reds at times. Those hues looked solid and vivid, and I saw no problems related to bleeding or noise.
Due to the film’s monochromatic nature, black levels became especially important. As such, I’m happy to report that the dark tones of The Crow seemed deep and rich, and contrast levels were excellent. Shadow detail looked appropriately heavy but never excessively thick, as all low-light situations - and there were many - offered clear, well-defined imagery. All of this added up to a solid “B+” presentation.
For the most part, the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack seemed to offer a nicely broad and engaging experience. The audio used all five channels to a good degree, and I found that both effects and music cropped up from all around frequently in the film. Sounds moved reasonably well between channels, and at times panning could sound smooth and realistic. Other than a few vaguely-defined sequences, the soundfield provided a well-placed experience.
Audio quality generally sounded good as well. Dialogue displayed a few concerns, as some speech seemed mildly edgy and rough. However, most of the lines were acceptably natural and distinct, and I detected no problems related to intelligibility. Effects could be a bit thick at times, but they usually seemed clear and accurate, with reasonable dynamic range and no distortion.
The film’s musical soundtrack combined a score from Graeme Revell and a variety of Goth/metal rock songs, and these are reproduced well. The score seemed acceptably clean and crisp, and the tunes showed appropriately sludgy and dense qualities. I found that bass levels were fairly high and the low end usually seemed strong. While The Crow didn’t provide a stunning auditory experience, it worked fairly well for the material and it earned an overall grade of a “B”.
How did this Blu-ray compare to the DVD from 2001? The audio appeared a bit warmer and fuller, and the visuals seemed stronger. In particular, the Blu-ray offered better definition and also lacked the mild source flaws found on the DVD. The Blu-ray gave us the expected step up in quality.
The Blu-ray replicates most the extras from the DVD but changes some. While the DVD included a track from producer Jeff Most and screenwriter John Shirley, the Blu-ray replaces it with an audio commentary by director Alex Proyas. In his running, screen-specific chat, Proyas discusses visual effects, cast, characters and performances, themes and story, costumes and makeup, sets and visual elements, influences, stunts and action, and related areas.
Proyas covers the film in a satisfying manner. He touches on a broad mix of topics and does so in a full, involving way. All of that adds up to an informative commentary.
After this we find a Behind the Scenes featurette. This program lasts 16 minutes, 33 seconds and it appears to come from around the time of the film’s original release; all of the information seems to have been culled during the production. The show combines the usual mix of footage from the set, movie clips, and interviews with participants. All of the main players are heard from, with the odd exception of Proyas, who appears nowhere in this program.
Despite his absence, I found the “BTS” program to be a generally decent little featurette. It works best due to its immediacy and the focus on a variety of aspects involved in making the movie. It also could be rather creepy to hear Lee discuss the movie’s subject matter and death in general. Oddly, the show makes virtually no mention of Lee’s demise other than a minor bit at the very end.
Actually, you’ll find very little coverage of that topic anywhere on the disc. I figured there’d at least be some sort of tribute to Lee, but the mentions of his sad fate are very few and far between, which comes across as vaguely tacky. His death was so well-known that I felt it had to be addressed in the package, but the disc’s producers prefer to largely ignore it. I would like to hear about the controversies that surrounded the release of the movie.
Nonetheless, the “Behind the Scenes” featurette is a pretty interesting show, as is A Profile on James O’Barr. This 33-minute, 33-second program offers an October 2000 interview with the creator of the Crow comic, and it’s a fairly compelling piece. O’Barr clearly has led a messed-up life, and his discussion of these events was brutally honest. I was able to get a good insight into the origins of the comic and quite a few other details in this strong interview.
The Extended Scenes area provides three lengthened segments. Viewed as a whole, these run 11 minutes, 32 seconds. For the most part, I found that the restored material did little to enhance the scenes. Really, the extra footage essentially just made the pieces more violent than they previously had been.
A little more interesting was the Deleted Footage Montage. This five-minute and 23-second section offers a variety of trims from scenes, some unused footage - including the “Skull Cowboy” - and a few outtakes. It’s presented in a semi-music video style, with tunes in the background. Despite that addition, I could hear the appropriate audio from the shoot when necessary. I thought this presentation provided a good way to provide a mix of material not long enough individually to merit inclusion as deleted scenes.
Speaking of the “Skull Cowboy”, we see more of him in the Storyboards area. There I found artwork created for five different scenes. These include between 19 and 93 drawings per scene for a total of 304 frames. I’m not a big fan of storyboards, but some of these were interesting, especially since they focused on shots that didn’t make the final film.
Additional still frame material appears in both the Original Poster Concepts and Production Design Stills. The former shows 24 alternative advertising looks, while the latter gives us 13 drawings that informed the appearance of the film. Both are fairly interesting but unspectacular.
The disc opens with ads for Memento, Lionsgate horror Blu-rays, the Scream trilogy, and Mimic. We also get a trailer for The Crow.
I liked The Crow and thought it displayed more style and verve than it probably should have, but the movie didn’t do much else to stand out from the genre. Nonetheless, it’s a good flick that generally worked well. The Blu-ray offered excellent picture plus fairly positive audio and a nice mixture of extras. Due to its dark subject matter, The Crow won’t be for everyone, but fans of this kind of grim material will want to give it a look.