Even allowing for commercial exploitation, did The Crow: City of Angels have to copy The Crow in such unimaginative ways? The plot sometimes rewrites the original scene for scene we have another person killed by a group of hoods and returning to avenge their own death, slaughtering their way through a group of street scumbags and up the chain of command to the charismatic gang leader who is again aided by a psychic seer. In both films, the events are witnessed by the same girl (here grown up) and in both films the climax hinges around the capture of the crow. And outside of the repetition of this basic formula of the first film, there is precious little to The Crow: City of Angels it copies the first film but adds nothing to it. Its greatest departure is the climax where gangleader Richard Brooks captures and drinks the crows blood to absorb its power but the playing out of the idea is banal.
On the plus side, the dark, glistening look of the original has been expanded to create what seems like some future world where the remnants of organised society eke out a barren existence in some eternally night-lit wreckage of the present-day. It is the ultimate Goth designer world streets and apartments are littered in fascinatingly textural ways with artfully strewn decay, all lit in a sickly green backlight and glowing ever-present mist, while the costume designer seems to be an S&M fetishist people in black leather masks and fetish gear even appear to be part of the decor in Richard Brooks rooms.
Unfortunately, after setting up such an incredibly atmospheric look, former music video director Tim Pope (known in particular for directing most of the music clips for The Cure) does absolutely nothing with it The Crow: City of Angels is all striking poses and Goth ambience. However, when it comes to the action, the film is utterly flat. The set-pieces around the killing of the hoods lack any of the fired-up, glistening urgency that the first film had. There are even moments the flashbacks with Vincent Perez and son where, for a film that supposedly hangs on a driving mood of dark nihilism, it unforgivably descends to the banally sentimental. The only point where the film does momentarily rise above the banal is the death of Iggy Pop where Vincent Perez places a coin in his mouth to pay the Boatman and pushes him gently into the river as people on the banks throw flowers that fall surrounding him in the shape of a crow.
Tim Pope has yet to make another film. He was involved with The Last King of Scotland (2006) but ended up quitting over creative differences. Screenwriter David S. Goyer went onto make a name as both screenwriter and occasional director with a number of other high-profile comic-book adaptations including Blade (1998) and sequels, Dark City (1998), Batman Begins (2005) and The Dark Knight (2008).
The Crow: City of Angels was followed by two further sequels:- The Crow: Salvation (2000) and The Crow: Wicked Prayer (2005) and a tv series The Crow: Stairway to Heaven (1998). A remake of the original has been announced for the 2010s.
(Nominee for Best Cinematography at this sites Best of 1996 Awards).
Trailer here (low resolution):-
Entire film available online beginning here:-