Crow: Salvation [2000]

Clean-cut kid Alex Corvis (Eric Mabius) is framed and executed for the brutal murder of his girlfriend (Jodi Lynn O'Keefe). He is revived by a crow spirit guide to hunt down the corrupt policemen who committed the crime, and ultimately to unmask the mysterious scarred man who ordered her death. The macabre noirish spin James O'Barr's original graphic novels put on the superhero mythos translated reasonably well for the original film of the series, directed by Alex Proyas in 1994 and starring the late Brandon Lee. But the premise had already worn thin by the first sequel, 1996's The Crow: City of Angels, and this entry simply rehashes the same story (tragic hero in clown greasepaint avenges beautiful dead girlfriend by eliminating outlandish villains) without adding anything new to the mix. Mabius brings nothing to the role except boyish good looks, while Kirsten Dunst is wasted in a supporting role as the murdered girl's sister. The supporting cast includes career cad William Atherton as Dunst's red-handed dad, and Fred Ward as a police captain with a taste for recreational surgery. Director Bharat Nalluri (the minor U.K. cult pic Killing Time, 1998) ably handles the action scenes and faux postindustrial atmosphere but seems at odds with how to pace or stage dialogue scenes (not that X-Files scribe Chip Johannesson's script provides any worth the effort). Gore effects courtesy the KNB Group and a Sturm und Drang soundtrack featuring Kid Rock, Hole, and others will help hold the most loyal fans' interest. --Paul Gaita

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