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THE CROW: STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN - THE...
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Reviewed by: JimmyO

Directed by: Various

Starring:
Mark Dacascos
Sabine Karsenti
Marc Gomes

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about
When Eric Draven and his girlfriend Shelly are murdered, a soul is brought back to seek vengeance. Eric, with the help of a little black bird, returns to collect for the murders and help a few deserving folk along the way. He also get to sing and play guitar occasionally.
Is it good movie?
After Eric Draven and his fiancé are brutally murdered, Eric’s soul is brought to the land of the dead, only to return to carry out retribution. Originally tackled by Brandon Lee in the fantastic The Crow directed by Alex Proyas, Mark Dacascos now takes flight as the wronged musician with bird qualities. Yet this is a series and not just another sequel, so we are offered a chance to see him as hero, more than just seeker of vengeance. And sometimes this chance to show a deeper side to Eric Draven works, but oftentimes, it feels much too innocent for this gothic bit of entertainment.

The Crow: Stairway to Heaven started off very well with the pilot episode. It was dark and offered up a really strong performance from martial arts master Dacascos. I really liked him in the role, in fact, aside from Brandon Lee, he was probably better suited than any of the sequels revenge seeking undead. He has the ability to be scary and still carry out the more human aspects including the light touches of humor throughout. He is probably the main reason that the show works because he has the martial arts background to be believable, and he can also act. Good work on his part.

And although there are moments of bleakness, a big problem I had with the series is the lack of the grimness that was a big part of the original film. Yes this is a television show, and in many ways it felt a bit like Buffy The Vampire Slayer, yet Buffy knew the art of making things really bleak and still having the other goodies. The revenge sequences seem so tame and there are a few points I was annoyed and left thinking, “That’s all they get?”. Come on… when someone does something as horrible as some of the villains do I want to see all goodness thrown aside. I’m not saying kill em all, but this isn’t Murder She Wrote… It’s the freakin’ crow.

Another issue I had is that it felt as if they could have really made a couple of the storylines stretch out a bit. For the most part, everything is answered by hours end. It makes me wonder how quickly they knew that it wouldn’t be around much longer. It seems like they really rushed through without letting it grow and shape. Truthfully, Eric’s girlfriend Shelly who is played by Sabine Karsenti, didn’t really work for me. It wasn’t until the last half of the season that she started to grow on me. It wasn’t a bad performance but something felt off with her character. But in the end, I grew to like her and even the show thanks to Dacascos and a couple of interesting episodes. One of which called “Birds of a Feather” offered another devastating story and introduced a new Crow. Again, this could have lasted a few more episodes. It seemed like a great idea that was underused.

Although not a great series, I feel that it may have been ahead of it’s time. Maybe if it had been made now, they could have gone a little darker and retained some of the moody atmosphere of the original film. Yet even with the squeaky clean endings, this crow flew thanks to Mark Dacascos who made for a great Draven. If you are a fan of the original, and liked the sequels, then this is a must watch.
Video / Audio
Video: Since this was before television went widescreen, this is a very nice Fullscreen transfer.

Audio: Also quite good is the 5.1 Dolby Digital audio. Rock on.
The Extras
There is a big red and white “TV GUIDE” logo on this DVD, and you wouldn’t need to see it to know they provide a few “special features”.

On Episodes 1 and 2, “The Soul Can’t Rest” and “Souled Out”, both Mark Dacascos and series creator Bryce Zabel offer up a pretty good helping of Commentary. It is an interesting listen, if a bit self congratulatory. They seemed to really enjoy the experience and don’t tend to look back with too many negative vibes. Now come on guys, the show only lasted for 22 episodes… you must be ticked off at someone.

The rest of the extras are hit and miss. This includes The Gag Reel (9:35) which is kind of funny but it gets a little long after awhile. There are only so many times someone forgetting their lines can offer up guffaws.

The Production Dailies are actually quite interesting. They offer up the unfinished look of “Death Wish” (16:06), “Dead to Right” (4:05) and “A Gathering Storm” (2:21). I found it odd that the first one is over fifteen minutes and the next two were so short. It is a good way to see that making films can be kind of tedious by watching this kind of thing. And I mean that in a good way.

The rest of the extras are all sort of dull. You can listen to portions of the Original Score and it’s composer Peter Manning Robinson. Which is just a track listing you can skip through. And of course there is the Photo Gallery (1:16). It’s a few photos so have a blast. Do you want to know more about Mark Dacascos? Well then check out the Mark Dacascos Biography. And then read up about the series with Excerpts from Inside Kung-Fu Articles. Good Kung-Fu lovin’ times eh?

You say DVD Rom? Well okay then. You have Episode Scripts and a groovy TV Guide Crossword Puzzles. Yeah. You have fun with these okay? Someone needs to. And lest I forget, you can even click on Special Thanks. Yep, it’s listed as an “extra”.
Last Call
Basically, if you love The Crow, then I recommend this. Yes, it’s watered down, but occasionally it sparks some of that dark strength that the film conveyed. And if you are not generally a fan, you still might dig Mark Dacascos who is able to conjure up a pretty damn good performance as Eric Draven. In fact, he is able to make the show as entertaining as it is. Great casting on his part. Yet the series is a bit of a missed opportunity to make a really outstanding show.
ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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