Hometowns to Hollywood’s Celluloid Road Trip Blogathon is about discussing films that revolve around a particular U.S. city. For my entry, I’ve chosen the 2002 film, Chicago. This movie has been on my DVR for three years, the longest a film has ever sat on the device. In fact, Chicago has spent the most time on my DVR, staying there since May of 2017. So, this was the perfect opportunity to finally see it! Even though it was my first time seeing the movie, it was a title I had heard of before. Whenever cinematic musicals of the 21st century are discussed, Chicago is usually brought up in the conversation. However, I never made time to check the film out. Now, in 2020, I am ready to review Chicago!
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: Chicago is an ensemble film. Therefore, multiple actors pulled off a performance that was enjoyable to watch! Whenever I think about Queen Latifah’s portrayal of Matron “Mama” Morton, I think about how she carried her character with confidence! Even in the musical number, “When You’re Good to Mama”, she appeared comfortable performing in front of an audience. Through the use of music and theatrics, Queen Latifah was able to garner attention from the audience and create an effective on-screen presence! I have seen some of Richard Gere’s films prior to watching Chicago. However, most of those projects have leaned more toward the drama genre. His role, Billy Flynn, allowed him to step out of his comfort zone. Similar to what I said about Queen Latifah’s performance, Richard looked comfortable in his role! He even did a good job when it came to the musical numbers! What I liked about Renée Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones’ performances is how their on-screen personalities were so different from one another, yet complemented each other so well! It created such an interesting dynamic between these characters. Like I said about Richard Gere, Renée and Catherine did a good job pulling off the musical performances, as well as the portrayals of their characters!
The musical numbers: If you’re going to create a musical, you need to create musical numbers that are worth watching. When it comes to Chicago, the musical numbers were the highlight of this project! They are all presented as dream sequences, to show how Roxie views her world. I found this is to be an interesting creative choice, as most musicals include their musical numbers within the events of the plot. Chicago’s musical numbers were stylized, serving as visual spectacles. Bright colors and lights provide a consistent component, adding to their photogenic appeal. I also liked the creativity that could be found in these musical numbers. An example is “We Both Reached for the Gun”, where all the characters except for Billy are showcased as a puppet.
The historical accuracy: When I was watching Chicago, I noticed how the entire production appeared historically accurate! This film takes place in 1924, which is reflected in various ways. One of them is the hairstyles of the female characters. Both Roxie and Velma sport shorter hair-dos, showing women’s style choices of that time. The costumes, in Roxie’s world and the dream sequences, seemed to belong in that decade. Longer coats were worn by some of the female characters, with a millionaire named Kitty wearing a white one with embroidered flowers in a scene. Set designs and even vehicles showcased the historical accuracy I found in this film! It tells the audience that the creative team behind the project cared about their film’s presentation.
What I didn’t like about the film:
Too much burlesque: While there are plenty of musical numbers in Chicago, the majority of them featured burlesque. Personally, I am not a fan of this particular performance style. Therefore, I didn’t care for burlesque’s abundance. Aside from my personal opinion, the number of burlesque routines felt like they were rehashing the same idea. There was only so many times the movie could present a scantily clad dancer performing mature dance moves before the concept got old. Chicago is a film that, in my opinion, would have benefitted from having less burlesque.
Mixed messages: As I’ve said before, I watch movies to be entertained. However, I can appreciate a film that contains a good message. In Chicago’s case, there were mixed messages throughout the story. One good example revolves around Roxie’s quest for stardom. On more than one occasion, other women have gained more attention than her. This led me to believe the movie’s overarching message would be about how there will always be someone who has more than you no matter how much you strive for what you want. I won’t spoil the film for those who haven’t seen it. But what I will say is the film’s final outcome contradicts the message that seemed to be delivered.
Characters that are terrible people: When I reviewed Twentieth Century last month, I talked about how all the characters were awful individuals. This caused me to lose investment in them and their stories. Chicago has a similar flaw, with most of the characters being terrible people for different reasons. Toward the beginning of the film, Roxie is shown murdering a man, even though he was walking away when the crime was committed. The song, “Funny Honey”, highlights how Roxie is glad her husband, Amos, comes across as ignorant because she thinks that will help her cover up her crime. Out of all the characters in this film, the only one I cared about was Roxie’s husband, Amos. While he was a simple man, he was the only character who was a genuinely good person. I couldn’t help feeling sorry for him during the musical number, “Mister Cellophane”.
My overall impression:
The way I feel about Chicago is the same way I feel about Moulin Rouge!: it was ok. The 2002 movie does have merit, which can be found in the acting performances and the musical numbers. But, similar to Moulin Rouge!, Chicago relies more on style than substance. Because the audience knows the protagonist committed a crime, there is no sense of intrigue. It also doesn’t help that the majority of the characters are terrible people. The mixed messages within the story are confusing, with the script saying one thing, but then being contradicted later on. If you’re not a fan of burlesque, then you probably won’t enjoy most of the film’s musical numbers, as they abundantly feature burlesque routines. However, the musical numbers in general were well-crafted, especially on a technical level. Therefore, I would recommend these parts of the film. As for the movie itself, this is one I don’t see myself revisiting.
Overall score: 6 out of 10
Have you checked out the other entries from the Celluloid Road Trip Blogathon? If so, which city that was addressed do you think is interesting? Share your thoughts in the comment section!
In recent days, the news about the release of the infamous “Snyder Cut” of Justice League has taken over the internet. Multiple Youtube videos have covered this story and the discussion of its arrival has been rampant on social media. It has even gone so far as to make Paul Feig consider releasing a new cut of his version of Ghostbusters. But among the articles, videos, perspectives, and comments, there is a cut of one movie that was left out of the conversation: the Tim Pope cut of The Crow: City of Angels. As you’re reading this, you’re probably wondering “What is the Tim Pope cut?” “Didn’t this film already receive a director’s cut?” In this editorial, I’ll answer those questions. I will also be sharing a list of reasons why now is the perfect time to release the Tim Pope cut of The Crow: City of Angels. This isn’t the first time I’ve brought this subject up. In my Sunshine Blogger Award post from this April, I said that one of my greatest wishes for cinema was for the full version of The Crow: City of Angels to be released. However, I honestly never thought I’d write an editorial about this subject. Since many people are not talking about the Tim Pope cut, I decided to do so. Besides, when life gives you lemons, it’s better to write a blog post about it while everyone else is making lemonade.
What is the Tim Pope cut?
Before I talk about the reasons why the Tim Pope cut should be released, I need to explain what the cut itself is. The Tim Pope cut is the 160-minute version of The Crow: City of Angels that was purposefully intended to be different from the first film. Unfortunately, this version never saw the light of day because the movie was heavily affected by “studio intervention”. In a video titled “Exploring The Crow City of Angels,” Cecil, the creator and narrator of the video, explains how the studio’s decisions prevented the film’s creative team from telling the story they wanted. It got so bad that the movie’s director and writer, Tim Pope and David S. Goyer, disowned their project because of the changes. While the film did receive a director’s cut, “it’s mostly just extended scenes,” according to Cecil. The original version of this movie is not officially called “the Tim Pope cut.” Supporters, including myself, gave it this name to make it sound more official.
Reason #1: The “Snyder Cut” Opens the Doors for a Winning Cycle
In an article from The Hollywood Reporter, Borys Kit reported that “a growing movement of fans, rallied around the hashtag #ReleasetheSnyderCut, had called, agitated, petitioned – even bought a Times Square billboard and chartered a plane to fly a banner over Comic-Con – for Snyder’s version to be released.” The reason why people wanted to see Zack Snyder’s version of Justice League is because the director had to leave the project due to a personal situation involving his family. This caused a different director, Joss Whedon, to step in and change Zack’s intended vision. Because of how vocal and passionate these supporters were, HBO Max is finally granting their wish. Borys says, in their article, the streaming service “will debut the project in 2021.” They also state that “whether it will be released as an almost four-hour director’s cut or split into six “chapters” has yet to be decided.”
Since the “Snyder Cut” is going to see the light of day, it opens the door for other films that have been creatively damaged, like Justice League, to receive the proper treatment they deserve. It also sets a precedent for a cinematic cycle where everyone wins. I provide an image of this cycle to give a visual for what I will be discussing. The following bullet-points show each part of the cycle and why its important.
Movie’s Creative Team – Given creative freedom, allowed to make the films they want, has option to incorporate fan feedback and source material if IP is used
Fans/Audience Members – Greater chance they’ll spend money on movie ticket if creative team and studio respected and listened to them
Studio – Will see good financial results on projects where creative team was given creative freedom and fans/audience members are respected
Reason #2: The Person Responsible for The Crow: City of Angels’ Destruction is No Longer in Control of This Film
In the aforementioned video, “Exploring The Crow City of Angels”, Cecil discussed how the film was a victim of “studio intervention.” They mention on several occasions how Tim, David, and even The Crow’s creator, James O’Barr, had always planned on creating a new story for the sequel. This decision was made to show respect toward the predecessor and its devoted fans. After the film had already been finished, “studio intervention” took over. Harvey Weinstein, who was a producer at Miramax at the time, “demanded the film be edited to be more like the first movie,” as Cecil says in the video. This choice single-handedly stopped the creative team of The Crow: City of Angels from making the film they wanted.
In 2005, Harvey left Miramax in order to create The Weinstein Company. This means that he gave up control of the studio. At the time, Disney had ownership over Miramax. It was the result of an acquisition that took place in 1993. Over the years, the studio has changed hands among various companies. On April 3rd, Jill Goldsmith, from Deadline, reported that ViacomCBS “closed on the acquisition of a 49% stake in Miramax.” This allows Paramount, which is owned by ViacomCBS, “an exclusive, long-term distribution agreement for Miramax’s film library and an exclusive, long-term first-look agreement allowing Paramount Pictures to develop, produce, finance and distribute new film and television projects based on Miramax IP.” What this means is Paramount/ViacomCBS is now in control over the potential restoration and release of the Tim Pope cut.
Reason #3: Paramount has Respected a Pre-Existing Fanbase Before
When Paramount chose to acquire Miramax, they purchased projects related to The Crow. With those projects comes a pre-existing fanbase. However, this is not the first time the studio dealt with a project where a pre-existing fanbase was a part of the equation. Last year, fans of Sonic the Hedgehog were not pleased with the way their favorite character looked in a trailer for a movie based on the famous blue protagonist. After backlash over Sonic’s design, Jeff Fowler, the director of Sonic the Hedgehog, announced plans to change Sonic’s look. In an article from SlashFilm, Ben Pearson shares the director’s tweet, which says “Thank you for the support. And the criticism. The message is loud and clear… you aren’t happy with the design & you want changes. It’s going to happen. Everyone at Paramount & Sega are fully committed to making this character the BEST he can be…”. This choice caused the film to be delayed until February of 2020.
When Sonic’s re-design was revealed, fans and potential audience members praised Paramount and the creative team behind the film. Two of those people were Kneon and Geeky Sparkles from Clownfish TV. In a video called “Sonic the Hedgehog is FIXED! Sonic Looks GREAT!”, Kneon and Geeky marvel over Sonic’s drastic change. They also approve of Paramount’s decision to put customers first. Geeky asks, “Look, if it looks really bad and the fans say it looks really bad, you want people to come to your movie, right?” She quickly answers that question by stating “So, um, you’re going to need to, uh, do things that make the fans happy.” Kneon says, “The Sonic fandom is very, very vocal. Ok, they’re a very passionate, vocal fanbase”. He and Geeky express interest in seeing the film due to Paramount’s efforts to make a better product. Because Paramount and Sonic the Hedgehog’s creative team took the time to show the Sonic fans respect, the film went on to, so far, become the second highest grossing movie of 2020! While a part of its ranking at the box office was affected by the Coronavirus, acquiring a domestic receipt of over $300 million is something Paramount should be proud of.
Reason #4: Fans of The Crow are a Dedicated Group of People
The Crow has a pre-existing fanbase that spans more than a decade. Whether drawn to the comic or a fan of any film, fans who love The Crow are dedicated, vocal, and passionate about their favorite IP. They will find an opportunity to talk about the story and have even pushed The Crow into cult classic status. One of these fans is Lee from the Youtube channel Drumdums. In his video, titled “The Crow: Legacy of a Cult Classic,” Lee says “I have been obsessed with this movie, really, since I saw it, in the theater, opening night, uh, in May of 1994.” He shares his personal experiences with the film, as well as praising the project. He even created a live commentary video dedicated to the movie. Another fan is Pale Writer from the blog Pale Writer. Last Halloween, Pale Writer published a review titled “Rain and Revenge: The Crow (1994).” They say in their article, “I first watched The Crow with my older brother when I was in my mid teens, and I’ve loved it ever since. I was an emo teenager with a love of the gothic, and my brother knew that.” Throughout the article, Pale Writer explores many different components related to the film. Because of how well-written and passionate the review was, it encouraged me to watch The Crow for the first time this year.
Within any fanbase, people have their own perspectives and opinions. The Crow’s fanbase is no different. There are people who are vocal about their love for The Crow: City of Angels. Take, for instance, the video, “1. City of Angels – The Crow City of Angels.” Looking through the comment section will show how fans care about this film. One commentator says “I loved City of Angels.” Another person shares “This is the only sequel I liked.” When talking about a piece of lost media, Jorge from the Youtube channel blameitonjorge, says, “It was something that a lot of people wanted to see.” This mindset is similar to the “Snyder Cut’s” journey. Fans wanted to see Zack’s vision come to life, so their desire drove that campaign. I’ve seen comments from fans of The Crow saying how they wish they could see the original version of the sequel. Even Cecil from GoodBadFlicks expresses an interest in finding it.
Reason #5: Studios Can’t Make a lot of New, Live-Action Projects RightNow
2020 has become the year of Coronavirus. Many practices have been put in place to stop the virus’ spread. One of these practices has been “social-distancing.” This has resulted in many businesses temporarily closing their doors, including those from the entertainment industry. Kate Aurthur and Adam B. Vary, from Variety, reported how Hollywood is planning on returning to work. They say that one of the plans is obtaining “medical-grade cleaning equipment and PPE.” This, along with other new procedures and practices “will balloon the hard costs of production.”
A studio like Paramount needs to make money. At the same time, they also want to move forward as safely as possible. While ViacomCBS has generated revenue from their streaming service, CBS All Access, their incoming funds are more limited than normal. The Tim Pope cut could give the studio content to release. There is an audience for it, so fans are willing to pay for this version of the film. Paramount could either place the movie on the streaming service or release it on physical media. No matter how this film could be released, it would give Paramount something to create.
Reason #6: People Need More Entertainment Options
As I already mentioned, the Coronavirus has forced people to “social-distance” and “self-quarantine.” Streaming services, cable, and the internet have provided instant entertainment for consumers as they are required to stay home. Because new content is not as common as usual these days, The Crow: City of Angels could become a newer entertainment option. I also mentioned that Paramount could either release this movie on the streaming service, CBS All Access, in a digital format, like Xfinity on demand, or on physical media. Earlier in this editorial, I said that HBO Max was planning on releasing the “Snyder Cut” of Justice League in 2021. If Paramount wants to release the Tim Pope cut of The Crow: City of Angels next year, it gives fans something to look forward to during this stressful time.
The road to the “Snyder Cut” was met with perseverance, determination, and ambition. While this journey lasted for a few years, the fans’ efforts proved worthwhile. This situation shows how studios, cinematic creative teams, and fans can work together to form a situation where everyone benefits. It also shows that the sky’s the limit for other films that have gone through a similar situation to Justice League. If Paramount doesn’t release the Tim Pope cut of The Crow: City of Angels, it makes the studio look hypocritical. If they could go the extra mile for the Sonic fans, it would only be fair for them to go the extra mile for The Crow fans as well. This is why we need to let Paramount hear our voices. If you are a fan of The Crow, someone who approves of studios putting customers first, support consumer advocacy, want to see creative teams receive creative freedom, someone who loves movies, or want to help set a “wrong thing right” (yes, Sarah’s quote was intentional), then please consider joining the movement to encourage Paramount to release the Tim Pope cut. I created an official image with the hashtag that you are welcome to use. The most important point is to spread the word, so please let others know about this cut. All I ask is to please be respectful while sharing this message.
Have fun at the movies!
Paul Feig Thinks Ghostbusters 2016 is Next Snyder Cut from Odin’s Movie Blog (this video contains some language)
City of Angels – The Crow City of Angels from Jared
Exploring The Crow City of Angels from GoodBadFlicks
The Crow: Legacy of a Cult Classic and The Crow LIVE Commentary | “Can’t Rain All The Time” from Drumdums
Lost Media Case Files Vol 1. | blameitonjorge (this video contains some language and sensitive material)
Sonic the Hedgehog is FIXED! Sonic Looks Great! from Clownfish TV (this video contains some language)