Alicia Silverstone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Batman and Robin, Batman: The Animated Series, Chris O Donnel, David Boreanaz, Dennis Hopper, Edward Furlong, George Clooney, Joel Schumacher, Tara Reid, The Crow Wicked Prayer, Tim Burton, Uma Thurman
Instead of a review I will submit the notes I made with timing marks as I watched The Crow: Wicked Prayer.
3:31 – A character is introduced by a still frame and then a text description. Honestly, I have a weakness for that kind of thing, last time I saw it was in Feast. Everyone is named after the Four Horsemen. Not the Ric Flair bunch, the originals.
8:08 – Kind of cements Luke (David Boreanaz) as a complete non-threat as a villain. Tara Reid shows up as his girlfriend Lola. The screen hasn’t seen this kind of chemistry since Anakin and Padme.
10:01 – This horrible flute music plays as the girlfriend gives a horrible speech about the legend of the Crow. They’re opening a casino. I have no idea why she is talking about crows.
Also, this is the kind of music they lampooned in the Stonehenge bit in Spinal Tap. Its the stuff Ritchie Blackmore started playing in the 90’s. This is bad.
11:45- At some fundamental level no one involved in this film has any idea how couples interact with each other. Its like aliens landed, disguised themselves as humans and tried to make a movie about people but got all the details wrong.
22:00ish – They kill Jimmy Cuervo (Edward Furlong) and his girlfriend and take her eyes and his heart for some ritual. There are puns involved. The villains are Satanists. Satanists who buy their gear at Dollar General.
27:01 – The eyes give Tara Reid the power of precognition. Well not really. Just more flashbacks that don’t seem to help.
28:05 – Apparently Luke and his gang are mad that the casino is shutting down the local mines and putting families out of work. He briefly goes over everyone’s motivation before explaining that he is hoping Satan will help him get his revenge. I don’t think that’s how that works. The Devil doesn’t really have a history of granting wishes and helping people deal with injustices. That would be the other guy actually.
31:04- Jimmy comes back from the dead. Not only is he terribly miscast this is a performance neck and neck with the worst of Nicholas Cage’s work.
34:40 – Much like this franchise he finds out he cannot die. He burns all of his old life and then puts on the Crow costume which is what he wore at ‘Ravenfest’ with his girlfriend and becomes…the worst Crow ever. How do you screw this up? The Crow is a simple look, but a cool one. This looks like an underage goth kid trying to sneak into a bar.
39:31 – Okay there’s this wedding chapel/BBQ spot and Luke is taking revenge on the minister there, a reformed criminal who killed his father the preacher over a small amount of money. They’re trying to flesh out the character.
41:15 – To be fair, this is the first part of his performance that I liked, this bad guy that thinks that people can’t change. For a moment things clicked and Boreanaz showed me something? What just happened? Why did this bit briefly work and nothing else did? Was the day’s catering poisoned and he channeled that pain?
Aaaaand back to the suck.
44:45 – Jimmy shows up and displays the strength and fighting ability we’ve seen in the last three films. That means it took 45 minutes for this movie to catch up to what the audience already knew. Not good. He kills a guy by holding him against a bug zapper. There’s so many things wrong with this I don’t know what joke to write.
52:37 – We find out that he is a murderer, but it’s because he lost it on a football jock who was trying to rape someone. This is roughly the twentieth flashback so far. Oh wait, the couple that run the chapel are the parents of the kid he killed. So everyone is connected, in the sort of way that happens in lousy movies.
The minister that is shot comes back to life. Not sure why this happens.
56:31 – I will give them this. Tara Reid IMMEDIATELY figures out what’s happening within seconds of seeing him. The only problem is, she delivers the line the same way you and I would read someone a bus schedule.
56:56 – “Did the blood wash off,” The Crow asked, “Or did you have to scrub really, really hard?”
58:09 – Turns out Luke is way stronger than the Crow. Also, they wound the bird that follows him almost immediately. The next four or so minutes feature bad acting, where everyone clenches their teeth and hisses their lines to indicate intensity, but they all look like live-action versions of a 90’s comic cover.
65:00 – For some reason Macy Gray.
65:42 – For some reason Dennis Hopper. And that reason was a paycheck.
69:16 – A fight starts between the Crow, the sheriff and the Tribal Council, and apparently a Satanic pimp and the villainous gang. The Crow has done exactly zero preparation against the man who already outclassed him.
71:48 – “I now pronounce you Devil and his Shorty,” Dennis Hopper as El Nino the pimp.
74:20 – Luke becomes the Anti-Christ. He immediately starts to ham it up. He is wearing a Western jacket and has a pocket comb, because he is actually the Fonz.
75:26 – He crucifies the Crow and then tortures him by playing an out of tune piano. Tara Reid reveals that the eyes get their power from the sacred burial ground and if they don’t have sex before sunrise something goes wrong. Its turns that Tara Reid was one of El Nino’s hos.
Tara Reid as a prostitute. Maybe the casting wasn’t as off as I thought.
So now Boreaneaux descends into something worse than bad acting while Tara Reid figures out that the Anti-Christ intends to kill more people than just the ones she was mad at. Meanwhile the Crow wakes up and the Tribal Council argues with him, explaining that his daughter believed in fairy tales. Again, he’s talking a guy that came back from the dead and is clearly the figure of tribal legend.
83:22 – This is wire work that Hong Kong would find a bit much.
85:22 – The tribe does a Crow Dance to give him power. Things are just happening randomly at this point. The sun rises, the bad guy gets impaled, and the girl gets arrested as her eyes bleed. The Crow falls asleep in a hearse and gets reunited with his girlfriend.
I look down and my hands are wet from my own tears. I didn’t even know I was crying.
We need to stop doing lists for a while.
Somehow, I always knew it would come to this.
From the moment we decided to countdown the 10 Worst Comic Book Movies of All Time, I had a pretty good idea of what my number one would be. Never before had a film been so terrible, so unbelievably disappointing. For years, it stood not only as one of the worst films ever made, but a prime example of an opportunity that was squandered for no good reason at all.
And after all these years, it still sucks just as hard as it did in 1997.
In order to understand how the Batman franchise went from the amazing Tim Burton films to this shitpile, you have to understand one thing: This is the film the studio wanted to make from the beginning.
Warner Brothers felt that the Tim Burton films were too dark, and set out to make a more kid friendly – and they hoped more profitable – offering by bringing in Joel Schumacher, resulting in the storm of mediocrity that was Batman Forever. That film still retained a lot of the things that made the original films good, but the campy tone and bad one-liners were beginning to rear their ugly heads, and once that train left the station, there was no turning back.
There was just one problem with this calculation. As an 80’s baby, I got the chance to grow up watching this:
Batman: The Animated Series is what defined the character for my generation. It was the perfect iteration of the character, and elevated several of the villains from one-note jokes in the comics to complex, fleshed out and even sympathetic characters in the show. The creators, Bruce Timm and Eric Radomski, had tremendous respect and love for the comic books, and it shows in the series.
Film studios, however, don’t have any respect for comics or the stories and characters within them; I doubt many of them even read comics growing up. So, their perspective on the character was a lot more like this:
I’m not saying that Batman and Robin is as bad as the Adam West – helmed Batman series of the 60s, but it wasn’t for lack of trying.
Batman and Robin is a train wreck from minute one onward, starting with the gratuitously homoerotic suit up sequence. Bat-Nipples. Bat-Codpieces. Bat-Ass. The whole thing looks like cosplay night at an S&M dungeon.
The second treat for an unsuspecting public is a bad joke, and the film is just getting started. Bad puns and hammy dialogue permeate throughout this farcical nightmare, and it was all done on purpose. Why the hell did they think people would respond positively to all this fetishism and campy silliness? Was their target audience John Waters?
The horrible trifecta is completed when Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Mr. Freeze steps onto the scene. It’s hard for one bad thing to stick out from such a catastrophic mess as Batman and Robin, but somehow he manages to pull it off.
While Mr. Freeze was a joke villain for many years, he got a significant revamp for his portrayal in Batman: The Animated Series. Here, Freeze is portrayed as a cold, emotionless being driven by two things: A cure for his terminally ill wife, and revenge on those responsible for her condition. The Emmy-winning Mr. Freeze episodes set a very high bar for the character, so high that Patrick Stewart was supposed to take the role.
Arnold Schwarzenegger is no Patrick Stewart, but this should still have been a layup for The Terminator. Instead, the character is taken back to his one-note joke roots. Literally. He can’t stop making bad puns about ice and cold, and the film keeps providing them, as if this is what people want.
Arnold gives by far the worst performance in the film, but there’s plenty of terrible to go around. Uma Thurman is gloriously bad as Poison Ivy; she has a lot of fun with the character, but the character totally stinks. And say what you will about Tom Hardy’s Bane in Dark Knight Rises, but they at least gave the character some of the cerebral depth that made him so infamous in comics. Here, Bane is turned into a simple bio-goon, a big hulking galoot without a mind of his own.
The heroes do no better, with George “I’m just here for the money” Clooney doing precisely jack shit with Bruce Wayne, Chris O’Donnell being whiney and terrible as the Boy Wonder, and Alicia Silverstone’s purposeless Batgirl being completely purposeless. She plays Alfred’s niece here, apparently from London by way of the Valley.
Joel Schumacher has claimed that he is a lifelong fan of Batman, but seeing this film makes that impossible to believe. The “action” in this film is one stupid set-piece after the next, with Batman and Robin playing hockey against Freeze’s goons, bouncing sunlight off of satellites to melt the city, and other such stupidity that even the writers of Adam West’s Batman would have thought was a bit much. All character development is thrown out the window, in favor of multiple subplots that no one gives a rat’s ass about. There’s no enjoyment to be had anywhere, and it’s all too dull and goofy to even qualify as a guilty pleasure flick.
The irony is that, in trying to make a Batman film that appealed to kids, they took out everything that made kids gravitate toward the character to begin with: They made Batman lame. Audiences responded in kind, and Batman and Robin went on to become the lowest-grossing entry in the franchise. It wasn’t until someone decided to reboot the series with a dark and gritty tone that the Batman found wings again (sorry) with Batman Begins, a commercial and critical favorite.
Next time blockbuster season rolls around, audiences will be treated to Ben Affleck as The Caped Crusader in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. A lot of ink has already been spilled on what a mistake that was, but one thing is certain: There’s no way Affleck can ruin Batman any worse than Joel Schumacher did with this steaming pile of Bat-Crap.