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David Boreanaz

David Boreanaz - ’The Crow : Wicked Prayer’ - Abahbnews.com Review

Sunday 5 June 2005, by Webmaster

he Crow Wicked Prayer Review THE CROW: WICKED PRAYER is inspired by the same-name novel by Norman Partridge. For those familiar with Partridge’s novel, you should know that the film is very different from the book. It is listed in the credits as “inspired by” and that is an accurate statement. It takes inspiration from the novel, but is basically its own story. In my opinion, this was a good thing. The novel, though a good read, had issues, mainly the villains had far more emphasis and the lead “good” character was basically put in the backseat of the story. Not a good thing when you are talking about a story that is supposed to be driven by the avatar. So these changes, and many more, were needed for the film. We have a glossary of characters in our THE CROW: WICKED PRAYER section that lists who the characters were in the book and the changed character from the film. Now on to our review of the film.

THE CROW: WICKED PRAYER marks a return to a stylized form of film making. Each scene, especially early on, is like a framed poetic piece of art work. That word “poetic” was used by quite a few folks when describing the various scenes. The film/story is set in the desert Southwest. Everything has dust/sand on it. Gone is the urban decay of previous stories. This dusty/dirty atmosphere helps to establish the film as a modern western tale. I will break the review down into different parts so each area of the film can be addressed.

LOOK The film looks fantastic. Lance Mungia has done a wonderful job bringing us a great looking film. Anyone that has seen his film SIX STRING SAMURAI knows he has a unique eye for framing and action that is brought to THE CROW: WICKED PRAYER. There are a lot of different shades of browns in the color palate as well as beautiful reds and blues. I was struck by how barren, but at the same time beautiful, the settings were. The desert is very much a welcome change from the urban decay we have become accustomed to. There are some great shots of sun sets and sun rises that can only be enjoyed in the desert.

Fans will notice some of the birds in flight scenes are copped from previous Crow films. Thankfully there is no alley scenes from the first film used (like in THE CROW: SALVATION). The birds in flight shots are an unfortunate result of a limited budget.

STORY / ACTION / FLOW Overall, I really enjoyed the themes presented in the story, especially the inclusion of the Native American element. Though not fully explored, the Native American origin of the Crow mythology was a welcome change. This film presents a lot of social issues and those are played out nicely during the film. Jimmy Cuervo is very much an anti-hero. I thought the conflict within the residence of the town over shutting down the local mine and building a casino really adds a nice touch to the story. This conflict, in part, lends to some of the reasons why the Four Horseman gang are seeking revenge, which leads me to the other element about the story that is fascinating. The gang believes THEY are righting wrongs. This clash of missions with Jimmy’s will make for some interesting discussion by fans. The story is spiritual in nature. The satanic themes presented may or may not appeal to everyone. Some who saw the film with me were a bit bothered by the satanic imagery and themes. It didn’t bother me, because there is a balance of super natural (the satanic stuff), spiritual (Native American) and social themes. In my opinion, the satanic element highlights the despair the whole gang is in and represents a reaching out to the easiest way for them to deal with their pain. Jimmy could have easily fallen in with the gang given his circumstances, but he has Lily to ground him. Luc and his gang don’t have anyone like that in their lives so they are easily fooled into following the wrong path. These people are not entirely evil, which is evidenced through some very well done moments in the story where the gang isn’t so sure of themselves. This humanizes these characters that have in previous Crow films been nothing more than cartoon characters lined up for the slaughter.

Action is straight on, not a lot of martial arts. It is brutal fighting. Wires are used from time to time, but other than that, the action is raw and emotional. There are no car chases, no exaggerated fighting styles. This is bare knuckle action and it fits the setting and story perfectly. I really liked that the action was not over the top.

The film really moves a long at a great pace. A lot of this is due to some great editing (will talk more of that later on). It has a run time that is right at 100 minutes. At no moment during the film did I glance at my watch. Editing was a big issue with the second film in the franchise, not this time, all the scenes flow beautifully, but like I said, more on that in a bit.

ACTING / DIALOGUE By far, Eddie Furlong (Jimmy Cuervo/The Crow) gives the best performance in the film; and well he should. This is his film to either make work or not and he brings forth an emotional and tragic performance. He has some great lines and he delivers all of them dead on. Having read the script numerous times, I was anxious to hear/see his delivery of some of my favorite lines. He flat nailed them and in a few cases, really surprised me with a delivery I did not expect. Emmanuelle Chriqui (Lily) who plays Eddie’s love interest and catalyst for his return is fantastic. She conveys the beauty, strength and love that the role called for. I would have to say, to date, she is the best love interest featured in the Crow films. She has the task of being the films emotional anchor. She gives a speech at the beginning that is filled with dialogue found in the first Crow film that details the story of the crow. It is an altered version and is delivered perfectly. She also delivers more emotional dialogue throughout the film in the form of memory and sound flashbacks. More so than any previous film in the franchise, Emmanuelle (Lily) has a lot more to do in the story than just being the damsel in distress.

David Boreanaz (Luc Crash/Death) does a good job as Luc, though his later scenes channeling Satan are a bit too animated in my opinion. Luckily, he is not Satan for long enough to derail the film, but I would have liked a more reigned in performance when he finally channeled Satan. He does such a good job as Luc, it is a shame he ends the film hamming it up. Tara Reid (Lola Byrne) gives a really subdued and tragic performance, she does a great job. As for the rest of the gang, Marcus Chong (War) is the anchor of the gang and does a great job delivering, in many cases, poetic verses in the midst of chaos. Yuji Okumato (Pestilence) steals practically every scene he is in. He does a great send up of a wannabe cowboy and his “western” accent is a hoot. Some may remember him as the villain opposite Ralph Machio in Karate Kid 2. The biggest surprise was Tito Ortiz (Famine). I half expected him to be totally out of place amongst the “real” actors, but he holds his own and is a steady presence.

David Ortiz (Sheriff Tanner) is really good. His scenes with Eddie are some of my favorites from an acting/dialogue aspect. Danny Trejo (Harold) brings his usual strong presence to the role of the tribal/spiritual leader of the town. Danny is always good and he delivers once again in a supporting role. Rounding out the cast is Rena Owen (Mary), who gives a short, but emotional performance. The scene she shares with Eddie is one of the stand outs emotionally (though her crying does get to be a bit much after a while). Richard Cumba (Moses), like Rena, has a short role but makes the most of it. He plays a preacher who has a past with Luc and is the husband of Rena Owens’ “Mary”. His confrontation with Luc (Boreanaz) is really good and one of David’s best scenes. Daymond John (Proud Foot Joe) is OK, definitely not an actor, though he doesn’t have a lot of scenes that require him to “act”. He does have one of the movie’s funniest moments when he comes upon a newly resurrected Jimmy Cuervo.

Dennis Hopper (El Nino) is good, albeit he is saddled with some of the worst lines in the movie. I never liked the gansta’ lingo his character uses when I read the script and as feared, it sounds as out of place as it reads. Hopper makes what is basically a cameo, so his dialogue is not around long enough to do any real harm. The last performance to speak of is Macy Gray (Cara Mae, bodyguard for Hopper’s Nino character). She is.....well, she is Macy Gray. Not even close to being an acting talent, Gray basically is a presence and thankfully, her “presence” is short-lived.

WHAT KILLED (what I liked the best) The opening sequence, with its tip of the 10 gallon hat to THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY intro of the gang is great and set the tone perfectly. Jimmy and Lily’s intros are great. It was a nice touch to actually see both lovers alive at the beginning, where we can actually see them relate to each other, which really adds strength to our empathy/sympathy for Jimmy later on. Jimmy’s resurrection is done perfectly, a lot of emotion.

The music is absolutely fantastic. Jamie Christopherson’s score is THE best, in my opinion, to date. This is the first Crow film without the benefit of a rock soundtrack. In my opinion having a score-only soundtrack works perfectly given the setting.

As I mentioned before, Eddie Furlong’s performance is spot on. He has the crux of responsibility in this film and he handles it beautifully. His character is very different from previous Crow films. He is torn when he comes back. He doesn’t want to be there, he wants to be with Lily. Eddie does a great job conveying this pain. Eventually he accepts that this is the only way to be with Lily again. Emmanuelle is a dream, you can feel her love for Jimmy and the strength she has.

The villains overall are a much improved element over previous sequels. The beauty of this film is for the first time, we see the villains as humans. They have back stories that we are given glimpses into. There are even flashbacks that Luc and Lola have (a first in a Crow film for villains) that help to establish tone and understanding of their characters.

As I mentioned, Lance’s style is great to watch. The camera angles and shots are beautiful. The editing is near flawless with some very nice transition scenes that go from real-time to flashback back to real-time with beautiful results. I would have to say that for the first time in the sequels, we have a very technically sound film here. There was great care and work put into this film during post-production and it shows. Finally, the ending is one of the best since the first from an emotional level. It is beautifully shot and executed; you will be moved by it. Again, the word “poetic” comes up time and again when I look for a way to describe the look and feel of this film.

WHAT DIED (stuff I didn’t like) My only complaint with the film is the 3rd act. This is when Luc has channeled Satan and he and Lola are married to further consummate the union. The wedding itself is fine, but as I mentioned before, David Boreanaz, in my opinion, is just too over the top. The dialogue David has during this part of the film is sprinkled with a tongue-n-cheek tone, but his delivery works against the intent, in my opinion. There is one exception when he and Reid are leaving the church he nails a line that is one of his funniest in the film and really got a great reaction.

Also, as I mentioned, Hopper’s dialogue is cringe worthy in the 3 rd act. I had hoped perhaps the delivery of the lines would improve them but as feared, the gangsta’ lingo sound out of place and I wish it would have been changed. Thankfully the 4 th act gets things back on the right track and redeems the shortcomings of the 3 rd . Don’t get me wrong, the 3 rd act isn’t horrible, but it could have been so much better with some tweaking of the lines and better delivery by the actors. I was the only one that felt this way about this portion of the film amongst the people I spoke to, so take this criticism with a grain of salt and make up your own mind about it.

FINAL THOUGHTS Well, after much waiting and build up, the film delivered the goods for me. Having followed the film for so long, reading all the scripts, etc, I had built up this image of the film in my head which frankly, I thought couldn’t be matched. That image was not only met, it was surpassed. This is a more than worthy addition to the Crow franchise and one I feel a majority of the fan base will embrace. My only regret about the film is that it will not see a much deserved full fledged theatrical release. It is high quality work and it is a shame that a film like this is not given its just due, especially in light of the films that HAVE been given a theatrical releases of late that absolutely tanked at the box office.

My rating is 4 crows out of 5.