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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this dark comics-based cult classic is packed with frequent ferocious violence and grisly death, plus a flashback of rape. Torture precedes a number of killings, with one character especially fond of gouging eyes. Expect some brief toplessness and strong hints of unconventional sexual activity. Profanity is frequent, especially "f--k." Cocaine, cigarettes, and lots of alcohol make appearances. Law and order is practically nonexistent.
- Parents say
- Kids say
Don't be fooled. This is not a tame superhero film. If you thought The Dark Knight was explicit, just watch this.
What's the story?
In a nightmare version of Detroit on Devil's Night -- the night before Halloween, when vandals traditionally set fires all over the city -- vicious street thugs on the payroll of an organized-crime kingpin attack rock musician Eric Draven (Brandon Lee) and his girlfriend. Eric is thrown out a window to his death, while the girl is gang-raped and beaten, later dying in agony. One year later Eric rises from the grave, a sort of flesh-and-blood ghost, able to heal from almost any wound, with a guardian crow as his companion. This undead avenger begins hunting down and killing the various scumbags (still very much at large, thanks to the Motor City's clueless police) who were responsible for the tragic homicides of the lovers.
Is it any good?
Imagine the gothic Batman crossed with rocker Alice Cooper crossed with some teen-idol vampire, and you've pretty much got THE CROW. Like Highlander, it's almost as much of a music video as a supernatural fantasy. It nonetheless dazzled critics and viewers in the MTV-youth demographic for the action and ultra-stylish visuals heavily veneered by atmospheric computer graphics. Acting is also better than it has to be, for a basic revenge-hit-list tale, though the storyline is fairly predictable as it goes from one freakish hoodlum's spectacular death after another courtesy of Eric, the only real surprise being that worse-than-useless city police aren't in cahoots with the main villain.
The Crow got sad extra attention for the bizarre death of actor Brandon Lee (son of action icon Bruce Lee), mortally wounded in an on-set gun stunt gone wrong. That didn't stop producers from hatching a clutch of Crow sequels, all pretty much reruns of this premise, with different actors starring as other face-painted, spectral crimefighters stalking urban criminals who all seem dressed more appropriately for industrial-dance-music rave parties.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in this movie. Were there parts that lingered with you even after the movie ended? If yes, why do you think that is? How does mixing sex with violence effect viewers? When is revenge justified?
Talk about avenging superheroes. Are they more interesting when they are invulnerable and all-powerful, like Eric (or Superman?), or when they are more human, like Batman?
How are drugs portrayed in this movie?
- In theaters: May 11, 1994
- On DVD or streaming: November 24, 2001
- Cast: Bai Ling, Brandon Lee, Ernie Hudson, Michael Wincott
- Director: Alex Proyas
- Studio: Miramax
- Genre: Horror
- Run time: 111 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: a great amount of strong violence and language, and for drug use and some sexuality.
For kids who love scares and action
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.