The Crow 30th Anniversary 4K Blu-ray Review

Brandon Lee's fan-favorite comic adaptation finally gets a great physical release.

A true cult classic turns 30 this year, and Paramount has gone all-out on a new physical release to celebrate the occasion. The Crow, Brandon Lee's grunge-noir comic adaptation, has been beloved by movie fans for three decades, and that love is finally being rewarded with a brand new 4K restoration.

Paramount released The Crow 30th Anniversary 4K Blu-ray on Tuesday, delivering a long-awaited restoration for a unique film that has desperately needed it. Fans will be happy to learn that the team behind this restoration knocked it out of the park. Let's break it down, shall we?

The Movie

The Crow is the definition of a cult classic film. It was made for a small budget in 1994 and was appealing to a pretty niche audience, but that appeal has widened quite a bit over the last 30 years. The Alex Proyas film, based on James O'Barr's comic series, seems to get more and more love as time goes on. Whether people have a connection to the film from their adolescence or see it as a beautiful snapshot of the grunge era, folks can't get enough of The Crow. Why else has Hollywood been dead-set on rebooting the property?

(Photo: Paramount)

The story at the center of The Crow is a bittersweet one, made even more gut-wrenching by the real-life tragedy that took place on set. Star Brandon Lee, who was on the cusp of a massive film career, was killed by an gun-related accident during a take. His performance as a resurrected rocker with thirst for revenge is exceptional, and his legacy will forever be tied to the film's. 

The Crow isn't for everybody, but those who like it absolutely love it. There was never anything quite like it prior to 1994, and there certainly hasn't been anything like it since.

The Disc (and Steelbook)

The Crow's 30th anniversary release is a native 4K transfer in 2160p with a Dolby Vision/HDR10 presentation and a DTS-HD 5.1 master audio track. It wouldn't take a lot for this release to become the best The Crow has ever looked, considering the frustrating presentations on the DVD and Blu-rays, but this new disc from Paramount really goes above and beyond expectations to create something special. 

Remastering The Crow is a tricky thing because of the style of the film itself. This is an incredibly dark, grungy movie made on a minimal budget. The style of the city and the noir elements of the story keep most of the film in the shadows. You can only brighten things up so much before you begin taking away from the intentions of the filmmakers and delivering something that isn't honest to what The Crow should be. This 4K restoration does an exceptional job at giving life and depths to the blacks and darker colors. The lights themselves get brightened instead, creating a contrast with those deeper colors that allows you to see the images a lot more clearly without sacrificing the noir style. 

With those choices, every detail in The Crow is made finer and more pronounced. From the opening fly through the model city to the close-ups of Eric Draven in the shadows, you can see everything more clearly and more well defined than ever before. What's even more impressive is that The Crow maintains a natural grain structure throughout. The clarity and lighting fixes didn't come at the cost of looking overly smooth or scrubbed. 

(Photo: Paramount)

Part of what makes The Crow such a lasting film for so many is that the filmmakers and design team never wavered from the unique vision they had when they set out to make it. The low budget, grunge aura of the film is part of its charm, and this restoration allows that to be on full display. The flyover scenes and rooftop chases only make the fact that the city is a model with VFX fires layered on top all the more obvious, but that just adds to its beauty. It feels like this disc came out of a time capsule, allowing fans to watch The Crow exactly as it was intended for the first time since 1994.

If you're curious just how big a difference this 4K release is compared to the previous Blu-ray, In Search of Physical Media over on YouTube put together some side-by-side screenshots to compare the two discs. The difference is night and day.

As far as the audio goes, the track was the strength of previous releases. It remains strong with this 30th Anniversary print. The dialogue is crisp and clean, and the soundtrack hits exactly as hard as it needs to.

Bonus points to the The Crow's 30th presentation for a phenomenal steelbook. The outer slipcover shows the outline of a crow with Brandon Lee's face shining through. Pulling the cover off reveals the full picture of Lee as Eric Draven. There's some great artwork featured on the back and inside the steelbook as well.

(Photo: Paramount Pictures)

The Features

The Crow 30th Anniversary 4K comes with quite a few special features, most of which are legacy features carried over from previous releases. Despite the fact that diehard fans may have seen a lot of these before, they're great features to keep around for this release. The disc includes not one, but two different feature commentary tracks — one from director Alex Proyas, the other from producer Jeff Most and writer John Shirley.

The two new features one the disc are an interview with late producer Edward R. Pressman from 2021 and a set of featurettes about the design process behind the film. The interview with Pressman is a decent addition but the Designing The Crow trio is far and away the highlight of the special features. All three videos in the featurette focus on an in-depth, retrospective interview with production designer Alex McDowell. Throughout the videos, McDowell gets into the nitty gritty of what it took to make The Crow look as memorable as it does. And unlike a lot of other featurettes on these home releases, the McDowell interview doesn't feel like a puff piece about the film itself. He really takes a dive into the process of designing sets and offers a ton of insight into how The Crow got made. It's definitely worth your time. 

You can check out the full list of special features on the disc below.

  • Shadows & Pain: Designing The Crow – NEW!                                                       
    • Angels All Fire: Birth of the Legend
    • On Hallowed Ground: The Outer Realm
    • Twisted Wreckage: The Inside Spaces
  • Sideshow Collectibles: An Interview with Edward R. Pressman – NEW TO DISC!
  • Audio Commentary with Director Alex Proyas                                                      
  • Audio Commentary by Producer Jeff Most and Screenwriter John Shirley      
  • Behind the Scenes Featurette                                                        
  • A Profile on James O'Barr                                                                                         
  • Extended Scenes:                                                                                                          
    • The Arcade Bombing                                                                                     
    • The Funboy Fight                                                                                            
    • The Shootout at Top Dollar's                                                                        
  • Deleted Footage Montage                                                                         
  • Trailer       

The Verdict

The Crow is probably my favorite 4K disc of the year so far. If you're a fan of this movie, it is without question a must-own release. If you can get your hands on the steelbook that's even better, but those were already selling out at some stores shortly after preorders began. 

If you're only moderately into The Crow, or you've never seen it but have a love for great physical media, this release is still worth picking up. This had to be a difficult restoration, and to pull it off as well as they did is certainly an accomplishment.

The Crow 30th Anniversary 4K is now available to purchase in stores. A copy was provided for the purposes of this review.