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O. C. LIVE | KIDS ON FILM

Compared With Original, Sequel Isn't Much to 'Crow' About

In "The Crow: City of Angels," a guy returns from the dead and seeks revenge on the scum who murdered him. Along the way, he's befriended by a pretty tattoo artist and a mystical crow. Rated R.

September 19, 1996|MARK CHALON SMITH | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

James Gilkey is into comic books. He digs "The X-Men" and "Batman," but what really excites him is the new wave of comics featuring even darker heroes and plots.

One he likes is "The Crow," a cult book by James O. Barr. Because of that, the 15-year-old Laguna Beach boy was thrilled when he heard that "The Crow: City of Angels" was coming to theaters. James saw the first movie ("The Crow," 1994), starring Brandon Lee, and went nuts over it.

"That was awesome [because] it was really like the comic," James said. "And he [Lee] was right for the role."

But with expectations soaring, James was disappointed with the sequel. Vincent Perez, the latest Crow, is apparently no Brandon Lee, and the plot for "The Crow: City of Angels" is too similar to that of the first flick.

"All they did was have him go out and do the same things, but not as good," James complained.

Another fan of the first movie, Caroline Simmons, 17, of Garden Grove, agreed. But the violence bugged her even more. She showed up at a recent screening with her boyfriend, John Pasquez, also 17 and from Garden Grove, and found herself uncomfortable much of the time.

This latest Crow doesn't just take righteous revenge on his killers, he all but delights in destroying them. One creep has his eyes gouged out first, another is barbecued, a third is maimed in a motorcycle accident. Too much, according to Carol.

"They [the movie's creators] just kept on trying to make each one worse," she said. "I turned away a few times."

Boyfriend John wasn't bothered by the mayhem, explaining that he sees that stuff all the time in movies and even on TV, although it's not usually this graphic. He did think it got boring after a time and wished the movie had had a better good story.

"There wasn't much to work with, [so] they just kept killing people off," he decided.

But John did like the grimy, end-of-the-world atmospherics. The Crow's hometown looks as though it's been hit with a spate of firebombs. Everything is filthy, almost leveled and dark as char. There isn't one scene that appears as if it were shot during the day.

James also liked the visuals, noting that they closely reflect the comic's gloomy vibes. But why would gloom be such a turn-on?

He had to consider that. "Maybe because it's so different" from the sunny lifestyle he has in Laguna Beach.

Paul Fredericks, 16, from Huntington Beach, was in the minority. He was pleased with Perez's performance and the basic quality of the movie. Paul hadn't seen the original and went in not expecting much. Perez, he said, was athletic and acted well enough to make the role seem convincing, and the plot was intriguing.

"I liked how he got the chance" to come back and seek justice, Paul said. "If that happened to you, you might want to come back [and hurt] who hurt you."

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