Home4k Blu-rayReview: The Crow (1994) on 4k Blu-ray delivers a gritty yet improved...

Review: The Crow (1994) on 4k Blu-ray delivers a gritty yet improved video image

The Crow (1994) 4k Blu-ray
The Crow (1994) 4k Blu-ray 30th Anniversary Buy on Amazon

Paramount released Alex Proyas’ The Crow (1994) on 4k Blu-ray to celebrate its 30th anniversary. The film was packaged in a standard plastic case with a slipcover as well as a Limited Edition SteelBook with a partially transparent slipcover. Each packaged media edition comes with a code to redeem a Digital Copy via ParamountMovies.com.

Based on the 1989 comic book series created by James O’Barr, The Crow stars Brandon Lee in his final film appearance as Eric Draven, a musician who is resurrected from the dead to seek vengeance against the gang who murdered him and his fiancée. The movie has garnered a cult status given its gothic and film noir themes, and of course the death of Brandon Lee, the son of martial arts athlete and film star Bruce Lee.

How does the new 4k presentation look? Gritty and full of grain, The Crow in Ultra HD resolution delivers a dark and stylistic presentation that fortifies its genre. The new video image enhanced with HDR (allowing up to 10-bit video depth) fixes some color balance issues while accentuating primary hues.  Perhaps more importantly, the expanded color range showcases the production design by Alex McDowell that stands up even to today’s standards. New details emerge from the shadow areas that were crushed somewhat on Blu-ray, but even more so on DVD and in previous digital presentations. Now we see much more of the image while still holding a contrast ratio that lends to the style of the film.

The Crow 4k Blu-ray projection screen photo

Overall, the black levels in The Crow have a much better exposure than Blu-ray. The scene with Eric Draven (Lee) and Sergeant Daryl Albrecht (Ernie Hudson) at around 46 minutes looks particularly well for an interior night scene, with details in the shadows that weren’t evident before in previous lower-resolution presentations. The scene averaged around 55Mbps, which isn’t as high as other UHD BDs might deliver, as this is a BD-66, not a BD-100 size disc.  

The image isn’t perfect though. Depending on the screen, The Crow on 4k Blu-ray with HDR may appear on the flat side. An OLED or QLED (Samsung) screen tends to punch up the contrast and saturation, while a projection screen mutes the contrast, resulting in a more grey image. In addition, this isn’t the sharpest 90s movie you’ll find out there. The restoration and remaster crew likely did their best to preserve the details of celluloid 35 film, but in the end source material can only be pushed so far before looking over processed.   

As far as sound, the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 channel audio is the same as previous Blu-ray releases. Dialogue is clear and present above the music composition and sound effects. There are no notable distortions (one would hope, as this film is from the 90s when recording technology was pretty darn good). Foley effects mix well with natural audio recordings to create an atmospheric experience underscored by the music composition from Graeme Revell. We should note the movie features the MTV Movie Award-winning song “Big Empty” by Stone Temple Pilots during the end credits. 

There’s some decent surround sound audio during the shootout with Top Dollar (Michael Wincott) and his gang at about 1 hour and 13 minutes. Gunshots move around the audio space as Draven gets pummeled by bullets but eventually gets his revenge. Audio bitrates averaged around the usual 3.5 Mbps for a 4k disc. It’s worth noting this movie has multiple language dubs (we counted 12 in the disc menu), many more than the disc specs indicate. 

The Crow 4k Blu-ray open
The Crow (1994) 4k Blu-ray 30th Anniversary SteelBook slipcover, case, & disc

Bonus features add to the collectability of the 4k Blu-ray editions. The disc features a brand-new 3-part documentary created specifically for the 30th anniversary of the movie titled “Shadows & Pain: Designing The Crow,” highlighted by a discussion with legendary production designer Alex McDowell. Legacy bonus materials include a behind-the-scenes featurette, a profile on James O’Barr, extended scenes, and a deleted footage montage. 

We’re scoring The Crow on 4k Blu-ray 4/5 (Movie), 3.5/5 (Video), 3.5 (Audio), and 4/5 (Bonus Materials).

The Crow (1994) 4k Blu-ray SteelBook
The Crow (1994) 4k Blu-ray 30th Anniversary SteelBook Buy on Amazon
The Crow (1994) 4k Blu-ray SteelBook
The Crow (1994) 4k Blu-ray 30th Anniversary SteelBook Buy on Amazon
HD Report
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