Why could they not just let The Crow (1994) franchise die with poor Brandon Lee? You would think that the death of the legendary Bruce Lee’s son on the set of that film might be enough for them to rethink making more entries. But, no, they kept on going. And The Crow: City of Angels (1996) is only the second of four? I was about say that I do not mean to be “nitpicky,” but that is exactly what I intend to do. These movies are dumb for reasons too numerous to count, so why not be selective? Still, I will hand it to the series thus far: they are not actually about the guy chosen to avenge his death each time and who paints his face. Instead, they are about the title animal, who dies in each one. I cannot believe anyone thought these were a good idea.
I have no clue if The Crow: City of Angels is meant to be a sequel to The Crow, or related at all to its predecessor. They start out the same, though, with a crow flying over a city-scape and a narrator babbling something about certain souls getting the opportunity to come back and get even with those who did them wrong. This narrator is Sarah (Mia Kershner), who, because the script says so, is receiving visions of the brutal murder of Ashe Corven (Vincent Perez) and his son Danny (Eric Acosta). As such, she decides to go to the waterfront dock where this horrific event took place, arriving there just in time to see Ashe emerge from the water where his body had been dumped. Somehow, Sarah manages to get him to her place, where eventually he comes to and is freaked out. He recovers pretty quickly, and remembering those that had killed him and Danny, sets off on a revenge quest, but not before receiving the trademark face paint from Sarah. Look, if you have seen the first one, it is pretty much the same plot as the second. The Crow keeps killing those who were responsible for his and his family’s untimely demise, leaving a trademark bird pattern after each one of his victims. This keeps going on while torture enthusiast, satanic cult member(?), and drug kingpin (what a fever dream combination) Judah Earl (Richard Brooks), The Crow’s main target, figures out that it is the bird that is the source of Ashe’s power. This is a fact that Ashe does not seem to be explicitly aware of, though, and he allows his black feathered friend to fall into a trap set by Judah. In order to further entice The Crow to a final showdown, Judah also has Sarah kidnapped. This brings The Crow because he is in love with her . . . after two conversations. Anyway, instead of sensibly taking the elevator to the top of Judah’s building, The Crow decides to climb the exterior. Part way up is when Judah ritually sacrifices Ashe’s raven, drinking its blood and apparently gaining its power. Still, after surviving a fall of several stories, other crows gather around the building, which apparently means that Ashe still has power too. Meanwhile, Sarah has freed herself, and manages to get herself killed in attempting to help Ashe. Anyway, the bad guy is stopped and Ashe just wanders off somewhere.
There truly is no reason to watch The Crow: City of Angels. There is, of course, the virtue of good triumphing over evil. And there is even a scene with a priest, although this priest seems to give The Crow approval for his murder spree, which is clearly wrong footed. That is where the religious significance ends, though. At least in the original there was a sense of a mission from God, whereas the supernatural in this is more cultish. It is full of images, too, that are completely unnecessary. Ugh. I feel icky just writing about this nonsense. I mean, the sadomasochist crap would be enough to turn it off completely as soon as it is on the screen. There is nudity and sexual torture, and a whole host of other material that had me turning my chair completely away from the screen for certain stretches. I guess this is done to make the bad guy look, er, badder. However, when you also consider that the convicted sexual predator Harvey Weinstein was involved in this production, then it makes it even less watchable.
It is not solely the moments in it that had me wanting to be anywhere else than in a room watching The Crow: City of Angels. It is also the head scratching moments that leave you saying, “Huh? What was that all about?” that make this imminently skippable. First Sarah, then later Ashe, have a scene with a poor homeless girl. Again, this is an echo of The Crow. However, in this one, there is no purpose to these meetings. They say a few words of encouragement and move on. My Faith, and others, teach that we should be compassionate towards those in that state. I suppose these brief exchanges add to how good of people they are, but outside of this they serve no cinematic purpose. Corporal acts of mercy are good for our souls. Maybe this is only me, but congruent acts in films should help move a plot along. As they are, they did nothing for me in terms of my enjoyment. They are nothing more than drops in a sea of misery that is this sepia toned, eternal night movie. Avoid.