The Raven (2012) Poster

(I) (2012)

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Poe's literary roots still shine through the action-influenced detective story
napierslogs3 May 2012
A merging of the life of Edgar Allan Poe, his poetry, the crimes of his stories and a woven, fictional tale of all of the above is "The Raven". In the opening minute, I was ready to knock the film down for missing some of the significant details of The Murders in the Rue Morgue. Except this film isn't trying to faithfully recreate anything, you just have to get interested in a Poe-based detective story.

Yes, it is fairly gruesome. Perhaps more blood and violence than you would typically find in a Poe story, but as the newspaper editor insisted, that's what the people want. That's likely true, but what I like about Edgar Allan Poe's writing is the intelligence, prose and soulfulness that would be hiding amongst all the murderers and dead bodies. Most stories can be deduced to be about something entirely other than just the crimes. That wasn't really the case here, but that's hardly the fault of the film as they are different mediums.

They might not have gotten the underlying meaning, but they did the get the true nature of Poe accurate. His gloomy, brooding obsession with death, women and alcohol. I've always been convinced of John Cusack's aptitude for this role, and contrary to popular belief, he was very good. He was more subdued than most people were probably expecting. No action stunts and no over-the-top dramatics, he just showed how words and his propensity for gin would haunt him. He delivered only a few quick lines of wit, and I'm assuming that was the issue people had. From all that I have read from people wanting Robert Downey, Jr in this role, I'm assuming they have confused the fictional character of Sherlock Holmes with the real-life writer of Poe. All that I can say to that is thank God Cusack never got confused.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has credited Poe as inspiration for the creation of his famous detective. I'm afraid the filmmakers have tried to re-pay the favour and took some action cues from the recent movies. Watching bullets fly through the air really takes away from the few things they did so well.

"The Raven" is a good watch for Poe fans with references to many of his stories and poems and they found great moments to include some of his illustrious and lasting lines. Although I would have liked it more if the movie was just a dramatic recreation of his famous poem, at least Cusack did offer a reading of The Raven which probably mirrored that of Poe himself.
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Brilliant- Must watch
Ashman197722 March 2012
I am a big fan in general of "WhoDunnit" movies, and I was keen to see what 'The Raven' had in store. I went in assuming that it would be like any other 'Jack the Ripper'/19th century killer movie and that it would predictable. I was right in my assessment, but inspite of these cliché's the Raven was a brilliant film mainly because of the following:

  • The movie was beautifully shot. It has a very 'sleepy hollow' feeling throughout. - The use of Poe's work and the poetic climax was excellent. I enjoyed this bit a lot as it left me with things to think about after watching the film, something which is testimony to the fact that the film made an impact. - Great character development of John Cusack/Poe. Made for a dark, mysterious man with a twisted view of the world. Exciting. - There were many tense moments, great chases and small pieces of puzzle solving( like in console games) making for small mysteries within one large mystery, thus keeping you engrossed all the way.

To summarise, the Raven was riotous ride through Victorian era type settings, keeps you on the egde of your seat, the mini puzzles keep you busy and the plot and character development( Poe) was excellent, Definitely worth a watch and an 8 out of ten for me.

P.S. The film has gore so if you can't stand that, don't watch it. It's not a Hostel or a SAW, but there is gore and blood.
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Not At All What It Should Have Been
Sean Jump17 May 2012
Warning: Spoilers
If only Vincent Price were still alive. Perhaps the legendary Price, himself a fan of Edgar Allan Poe, and who starred in many adaptations of Poe's stories, could have brought the necessary combination of grand passion, inner turmoil, and sly wit to The Raven that it needed to succeed. But Price is of course long gone, and so we must make do with John Cusack. And it just doesn't work.

The Raven is based upon a great premise: in 19th-century Baltimore, a sadistic killer is on the loose, his murders based on the stories of the infamous poet and purveyor of the macabre, Edgar Allan Poe. Poe, penniless and drunk most of the time, is at first a suspect in the murders, but Detective Fields (Luke Evans) realizes that however otherwise dissolute Poe may be, he is not a murderer, and so enlists the writer's aid in cracking the case. The stakes are raised, however, when Poe's own fiancé, Emily (Alice Eve) is kidnapped. Can Fields and Poe solve the mystery of the murderer's identity in time to save Emily's life, or will Poe be undone by the very fruits of his own grisly imagination? Again, it's a great premise. Poe is one of the greatest horror writers of all time, and a thriller based upon his lurid tales of madness and death has a lot of potential. Sadly, The Raven—which takes its title from perhaps Poe's most famous poem—never realizes its lofty ambitions. The aforementioned John Cusack is the first problem the film is saddled with, for while Cusack is a capable actor the complexities of playing the troubled, rather enigmatic Edgar Allan Poe prove totally beyond him. Cusack never makes his version of Poe likable, or even interesting, and in many ways Evans's much more ably realized Detective Fields is the real star of the show. Alice Eve's lovely and charming performance as Emily goes for naught, as her character doesn't have enough to do and is so underwritten that she lacks any real personality.

The Raven does look good, and there are many appealing shots of fog-shrouded streets and dark forests. But the atmosphere is wasted, and the elements of Poe's stories which make it into the script are misused. Familiar Poe stories like The Pit and the Pendulum and The Murders in the Rue Morgue are used for a few gory set pieces that are merely insults to the original tales which inspire them. Suspense is diluted by the inability of the director, John McTeigue, to decide what kind of movie he really wants to make: a mystery? A thriller? A horror-comedy? The Raven isn't solidly any of these things, and so it becomes terribly boring by default.

If you really want a good movie inspired by the works of Edgar Allan Poe, there are a few of them out there, including at least two likewise called The Raven: one starring Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff , and the other featuring Vincent Price and, again, Boris Karloff. Though both films have entirely different stories to tell, they are also both superior to the new movie in every way. Poe himself was a merciless critic. Were he alive today, I think his own review of The Raven would make mine look glowing by comparison.
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Tell Tale Movie
Jim Cherry27 April 2012
On October 3, 1849 Edgar Allan Poe was found wandering the streets of Baltimore, delirious, calling out the name Reynolds. There have been lots of theories as to what Poe died of, from tuberculosis, rabies or to a drunken bender. "The Raven" puts forth a more romantic theory and a detective story for the man who invented the modern detective novel.

"The Raven" as a movie demonstrates that you can make a movie that bridges the biographical facts of Poe's life and its own artistic vision and still make an interesting movie. The movie is driven by the premise, a serial killer starts a series of killings in Baltimore that emulate some of the more gruesome murders in Poe's stories. When the first murder is done inside a locked room, police detective Fields (Luke Evans) recognizes it as the setting of an Edgar Allan Poe story. Fields brings in Poe (John Cusack) at first as suspect, but when another murder occurs Poe quickly becomes the first criminal profiler and consultant. Poe helps Fields both in what kind of mind the killer may have and of course in the details from his stories. The killer kidnaps Poe's girlfriend Emily (Alice Eve) with the killer promising clues as to Emily's whereabouts with each new murder he commits.

The filmmakers, director James McTeigue and writers Ben Livingstone and Hannah Shakespeare don't try to recast Poe's character as a superhero or give the movie Poe attributes that the real Poe didn't or couldn't possess. As mentioned before, the filmmakers stick fairly accurately to the known elements of Poe's last few days, although there are some artistic liberties taken, and they still present an entertaining movie with a few twists and turns as to who the murderer is.

Cusack is spot on as Poe from his look, thin with a black mustache and goatee, to (more importantly) Poe's character. Poe was a writer who had the ultimate confidence in his own abilities as a writer and was dismissive of his contemporaries, especially if they were more successful. Cusack is supported by a cast that hits every note right.

If you think a movie about Edgar Allan Poe won't have enough action for you, this is a movie for you. If you're more literary minded and think this movie will have too many inaccuracies or violate Poe's character or will throw in too much action, you won't be disappointed.
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A bit too simplistic all.
Boba_Fett11384 July 2012
Well, not much to say about this movie really. It's not bad but it's definitely nothing memorable or impressive to watch either. It's all being good and entertaining enough to keep watching but by the end of it you won't feel like you got an awful lot out of the movie.

I think that the biggest problem of the movie is that it's being a very straightforward mystery/thriller, which at the same time also makes it a very standard and formulaic one. Normally I would complain when a movie has too many distractions in it but in this case it most likely wouldn't had harmed this movie. Some more character, or some more different story lines would had perhaps made this movie a more interesting one.

The movie now becomes a bit tiresome after a while. There is not enough variation and the movie just never really manages to become a tense one, with any of its mystery or thriller elements. Who knows, maybe it also was the movie its low budget that prevented it from ever making a real impact and the reason why the movie seems to be lacking the right required type of atmosphere.

A problem of the movie also lies with its main character. No, I'm not saying that John Cusack is a poor actor in this movie but his character simply isn't being a good or interesting enough. There was so much they could had done, after all he plays Edgar Allan Poe in this movie but it feels as if the film-makers were holding back with just about everything and decided to play things safe, making this a very standard and therefore also predictable little movie.

No it's not a horrible movie to watch but just a movie that offers far too little to its viewers.

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Liked but below expectations
Federico Ambrosini30 April 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Great and interesting concept but a little below my expectations. I admire Poe's writing and biography yet this film did not abide by it. Edgar Allan Poe( who suffered loss of loved ones, loneliness and depression)did not reflect completely on John Cusack's interpretation of the role. In the film The character was half drunk, did criticized but there was a "humorous vibe" that threw me off pertaining to the Horror and thriller genre and Poe's personality. There was no moment in the film where the tormented, bipolar and dark Poe appeared. Also the movie did not make me think in the sense that every time they found a crime the film immediately pointed out the story or poem, as a matter of fact it only took the first crime for the Detective to figure out that the murder was a reenactment of Poe's story, but according to the film itself Poe was not famous or even recognized. I did enjoy the relationship between Poe and Fields, It was interesting in the sense of the change from suspect to friend, from untrusted to relying on each other.Also the art direction and Costume design. The ball where "The mask of the red Death" was depicted was impressive and very detailed as well as Poe's town and the killers "lair." The movie is visually striking, emulating historical costumes and setting, but the story lack consistency. It was a wonderful and thoughtful ending to a defective and lacking plot due to failures in character developments ( not counting detective fields). Like previous reviews on this film I would compare it to Sherlock Holmes, but I would of rather it parallel with Se7en directed by David Fincher, it had the potential.
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Absolutely Brilliant!!
brad_the_metalhead28 April 2012
Do not listen to the negative reviews because this movie is brilliant. I think the main problem is that people maybe went into this movie expecting a horror movie.

The portrayal of Poe is absolutely fantastic, John Cusack did a fantastic job he is a great actor and this one has to be my favourite role that he has played.

The movie has a great pace to it. Your at the edge of your seat the entire time, the thing is though if you haven't read any Edger Allan Poe stories you might have a hard time understanding it, but it doesn't matter weather you have read them or not because the movie is absolutely brilliant. It has its intense moments but honestly you can't take your eyes off the screen it keeps you guessing whats going to happen next.

Don't listen to the negative reviews, this movie is a must-see.
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Mystery thriller romp with a pulpy comic book feel.
peteranderson9759 March 2012
Warning: Spoilers
This film is story set during the last few days in the life of Edgar Allen Poe. Poe (John Cusack) is a penniless drunk (with a pet raccoon for some reason), depending on money he gets from The Baltimore Times for writing acerbic reviews of other writers' work to keep him in the booze. Emily (Alice Eve) the woman he loves is difficult to reach because her father Colonel Hamilton (Brendan Gleeson) has a very understandable dislike of Poe so they have sneak around behind his back.

The police are investigating two brutal murders of a mother and her 12- year-old daughter in a locked room. Detective Emmett Fields (Luke Evans) notices the parallels between these murders and the Poe story Murders in the Rue Morgue so he sends a squad of policemen out to bring Poe in for questioning. Although Fields doesn't believe Poe is responsible for the murders he is definitely connected to them.

There's a second murder this time based on the story The Pit and The Pendulum and this is a pretty gory killing as you can imagine if you are aware of the story (if you are not I'll just say the pendulum has an enormous blade on the end of it). The victim this time is a writer at The Baltimore Times who wrote highly negative reviews of Poe's stories. A crimson mask found on body is a message from the killer to Poe and the police about where he will strike next. The killer is playing a game with them and when the life of his beloved Emily is threatened Poe is forced to play the killer's game.

This was an entertaining mystery thriller and I did like the inclusion of Poe's stories in this film. The setting felt authentic enough and there was no anachronistic steam punk stuff going on like so many other alternative history stories. The cast are reasonable enough, especially Brendan Gleeson, but they don't really get too much development. I don't have any doubt that Cusack's performance bore very little resemblance to the real Edgar Allen Poe but it was fun and over the top and similar to Robert Downey Juniors's take on Sherlock Holmes. Anyone expecting dark melancholia and madness will probably not like this film but for people only passingly familiar with Poe it is a mystery thriller romp with a pulpy comic book feel.

Rating 7/10
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Un "Poe" tic
Tcarts7619 September 2012
It's a 6 for me. If you are going to make a fictional movie about a real character I think you should really just go for it, make it original, and use some imagination. Edgar Allen Poe seems like a great character to use as inspiration for a very dark, evil, twisted movie. This wasn't one of those.

Cusack as Poe, was OK, not great, not horrible but just OK. The story is one I have seen a few times before. The whole author writes something, serial killer uses it as a blueprint, suddenly the writer is called in and that was the killers plan all along and it becomes personal. Yawn. There was so much potential for this movie, and they turned it in to a played out old story line.

It wasn't bad. After the first ten minutes I figured the rest was going to be a torture to watch. It did get somewhat better, but never rose above OK.
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Edgar Allen Noooooooooooooooo
cmoyton26 August 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Oh dear. Much as a am a fan of John Cusak this is simply a terrible movie. Sure it looks and sounds good in high definition . As others have alluded to the director captures the whole Sleepy Hollow atmosphere 100%. The only redeeming feature was the Cusak portrayal of Poe. Down on his luck , his glory days behind him Poe is seen as a belligerent and egotistical drunk.

The amalgamation of truth and fiction simply does not work. Everything is thrown into the mixer from Hammer horror , to Sherlock Holmes to even Saw. Afet the 40 minute mark my mind began to wonder. Even with its serial killer (emblazoned on a newspaper headline - pointed in one scene towards the camera, in case you were not following) copycatting Poes more famous death scenes plot, the affair is strangely tension free. The identity of the killer results in a shrug of the shoulders - oh its him . Who would have guessed? I was never engaged enough to even try to guess the killers identity. If Poes death is shrouded in mystery this certainly doesn't pretend to be a viable explanation.
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