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This film was part of the Imagine film festival (SF/fantasy/horror)
Amsterdam 2012. By accident I saw it two times in the same week, once
as a Sneak Preview (film title kept secret until the last moment), and
a few days later as member of a larger group with "normal" tickets
(could not find a volunteer to take my ticket). In both cases I failed
to pick up the atmosphere (gas lanterns, carriages and horses), being a
certified nerd who does not "get" such things as feelings and moods.
But the worst problem was that my remembrance of the underlying E A Poe
stories stood in the way, elements of which were used wrongly, in a
manner that was probably not (I dare to say: certainly not) intended by
the original writer.
Anyway, I was also most unimpressed the first time due to confusing plots and characters. The second time I could lean back and glue the kaleidoscope of scenes together, and was thus able to appreciate (a bit) more what was going on. Focusing on the thriller elements the first 45 minutes worked very well, with tension building up, wondering where all this was heading. But then the illogicalities started. One example: The first viewing left me at a loss why the woman main character was not killed instantly, contrary to what happened with all victims before her. Not until the second viewing, the reasons behind this difference became clear.
As a long time admirer of the two underlying E A Poe stories (Murders in the Rue Morgue, Pit and the Pendulum) I found that the crux of both stories was missed entirely. We saw crude extracts that only showed the obvious and superficial elements. A frivolous defender of the film makers might say that it is by design, trying to convince us that the murderer was not smart enough to grasp the fundamental themes of the two stories. I completely missed the detective's logical thinking process dependent on scraps of witness reports (Murders in the Rue Morgue), and ditto the fear element as crucial part of torture (Pit and Pendulum).
Leaves me with a rhetorical question: Is it a good thing that I needed a second viewing to get all this??Anyway, someone not burdened with previous knowledge of the two E A Poe stories, may overlook their faulty adaptation. But my other problems still cannot be ignored, and I assume that many thriller lovers will have the same viewer experience. Considering casting and acting as compensating factors, a score of 5 out of 10 seems appropriate.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
An interesting view of Poe as a crime solver, the society of the day
and the intricacies of being a "commercial poet/writer" in the 19th
century. The writing and acting is crisp and moves the story along at a
good pace involving the viewer deeply. Several surprises are paid off
handsomely and the atmosphere of the movie is consistently superb.
The reasons for my low rating are as follows: 1. The culprit is an aspiring, admiring writer not a Navy SEAL but yet is able to use weapons handily and pull off multiple physical maneuvers that would require serious training beyond that of his occupation.Not very plausible. and 2. The ending requires suspension of belief and is inconsistent with the Poe that's been developed along the way. He is a driven passionate man-of-action for the entire film, but then acquiesces to a binary choice handed him by the killer. The Poe developed earlier would have chosen a third course and subdued the killer - providing an opportunity to extract the information via other means. Again an implausible ending for Poe. Required plot rescue is accomplished by the final gunshot.
It could have been great and wasted some good acting, hence the 4
If I were asked to come up with a single word describing "The Raven",
it would have been "underwhelming". This anemic second-rate movie is by
no means what we expected from the Australian director James McTeigue
whose 2005 debut the stylish Sci-Fi action thriller "V for Vendetta"
- was refreshingly interesting, emotionally touching and received well-
deserved favorable reviews from critics and wide audience alike.
Sadly, unlike "V for Vendetta" "The Raven" is virtually indistinguishable from the multitude of the mediocre thrillers continuously produced by Hollywood. There is nothing in particular about this movie (except maybe the acting to some extent) that would set it apart from the rest of the pack.
The weakest component of this so-so thriller is its pitiful screenplay carelessly tossed together by the inexperienced newcomers Ben Livingston and Hannah Shakespeare. The mystery thriller audience, being not too picky, perhaps could have forgiven most of the flaws plaguing "The Raven" - from the glaring plot holes, to the puzzling loose ends, to the failed character development attempts. Unfortunately for the movie, it contains a major defect that cannot be that easily overlooked: the alarming lack of logic combined with the shocking absence of psychological credibility. Things simply do not add up in "The Raven" both from logical and from psychological perspectives.
Not only the final scenes of "The Raven" where the dangerous secrets are revealed and the deep mysteries are resolved are regrettably anticlimactic, but they also leave us in a state of perplexed disappointment. Now, that we finally know "the truth", the more we think about it, the less credible it looks to us. The harder we try putting all the pieces of the puzzle together, the clearer we see that it does not have plausible solution. Moreover, we keep finding more and more fundamental flaws: logical inconsistencies, practical infeasibilities, and psychological impossibilities.
In addition to having major issues with the "mystery" part, "The Raven" also somewhat disappoints as a thriller. Simply put, the movie is not thrilling enough. It almost never reaches the level of suspense necessary to keep us "glued" to the screen. While "The Raven" prominently features reckless chases, spooky dark tunnels, mysterious strangers, secluded hiding places, and dangerous misty forests, all these genre clichés apparently do not work as designed and leave us mostly disengaged as a result. Some key ingredients necessary for boosting excitement and stirring up emotions appear to be hopelessly missing from these formulaic, unoriginal scenes.
The similar observation is applicable to the gruesome murders that the mysterious villain of the piece appears to be painstakingly copying from the Poe's stories. With all their shocking images and gory details, these crime scenes are not in the least impressive and are far more disgusting than terrifying. In fact, somehow the authors managed to make them almost boring, lacking clever and tasteful visual presentation as well as intriguing intellectual substance.
Another disappointing observation is related to the language used in the movie. I am not necessarily against certain language modernizations in the historical pieces, but these language adjustments should be unobtrusive enough to be appreciated by the audience. Avoiding language archaisms should be done in a tasteful manner; it benefits greatly from a careful, measured approach.
Unfortunately, "The Raven" does not demonstrate necessary caution in handling the delicate language adjustments. As a result, instead of flowing smoothly and blending nicely, the overly modernized language of the movie unexpectedly becomes a focus of the unwanted attention.
Of the very few decent scenes in the movie, most are funny ones, filled with warm irony and soft humor. One scene of that kind that comes to mind is the hilarious little show where Poe reads one of his famous melodramatic tear-jerking poems to the adoring female audience. Not surprisingly, the scenes where the timeless Poe's poetry and prose are recited from the screen are among the rare true highlights of the movie.
As I hinted before, the only reason why you might consider watching this otherwise quite ordinary thriller is the good acting. John Cusack gives a nuanced, atmospheric performance as the famous American author Edgar Allan Poe, even despite this well-known historical character being mercilessly deformed for "The Raven" by the shrewd gang of ignorant screenwriters.
Brendan Gleeson is solid and memorable as usual as Captain Hamilton, a disapproving father of Poe's love interest Emily Hamilton, unconvincingly and colorlessly played by Alice Eve (She's Out of My League, 2010). In the movie, Emily is for various reasons out of Edgar's league, whereas on the acting field the disposition is the opposite: John Cusack is hopelessly out of Alice Eve s league. In addition, very little chemistry can be detected between the lovebirds, Edgar and Emily, which makes their love theme look strained and unconvincing.
Luke Evans, previously known mostly for his thoroughly mediocre so- called "Zeus" from the weak "Immortals" fares a little better and looks slightly more mature in "The Raven" but still does not impress. I am not sure whether it is a lack of experience, a limited range of acting abilities, or a poor work of the director, or a combination of the three, but Luke Evans visibly lacked sophistication and versatility while playing Detective Fields the second most important character in the movie. His acting looked one-dimensional compared to the captivating, multi-faceted performances of John Cusack Brendan Gleeson and Kevin McNally (Maddux, the newspaper editor).
In conclusion, you might be much better off reading the classic poems and stories by Edgar Allan Poe than watching the unremarkable "The Raven" noteworthy only for its shameless exploit of the Poe's everlasting legacy.
The movie can be recommended for hardcore John Cusack fans only, since, unfortunately for Brendan Gleeson fans, there is not enough Brendan Gleeson in "The Raven" to justify watching the whole movie for the sake of his performance.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The story is about people getting murdered using the same plot in a
series of previously published books. Needless to say, the book author
is contacted by the police to aid in the investigation.
The police is useless in this movie. The villain seems super human, being able to avoid gun shots and police.
There is a large plot hole. During a party, dozens of police were presence and Poe was escorting Emily yet Emily was kidnapped by one person. How was this possible? Even the movie writers couldn't figure it out, so they just simply cut away and in the next scene Emily was gone.
John cusack could use more facial expression.
The ending is kind of lame and feel forced. But to its credit, it manages to keep my attention for the duration of the entire movie, and there isn't any particularly boring part.
I can say without hesitation that this film is a true masterpiece. The
story was solid, touching, and well-paced. It had just the right
mixture of action, suspense, mystery, humor, and intellectualism.
This film will be a treat for anyone, even someone who has never read Poe. But if you love Poe, this film will be even better.
When you stop to think that this film was completely passed over at the Oscars, it makes you realize just how little that award means nowadays. Most of the films that won an Oscar this year were utter tripe compared with this film.
"The Raven" is very similar in tone to the new "Sherlock Holmes" with Robert Downey Jr. If you loved that film, you will love this one. "The Raven" is in the grand tradition of films that actually make you think, and present you with a human story instead of explosions and blurry karate sequences. This film has heart- a great tribute to a great man.
The idea of an author having to solve murders inspired by their publications is horrific, especially if they write self-help books.
Fortunately, the scribe solving homicides in this mystery already pens ghastly tales of repulsion.
When a crime's committed that bares similarity to short-fiction that newspaper critic/drunkard Edgar Allen Poe (John Cusack) wrote, the writer becomes the main suspect.
Assured that Poe is harmless by his publisher, the wordsmith is then hired on to help police find the person(s) responsible.
The job becomes imperative, however, when the copycat killer kidnaps Poe's love interest (Alice Eve), and leaves cryptic clues as to her whereabouts.
A mediocre menagerie of Poe's prized prose, The Raven is a languid whodunit with no thrills of note and an ending devoid of surprise or payoff.
Incidentally, you should pray that police never have to employ the author of Fifty Shades of Grey to solve your murder. (Red Light)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I paused this film to go to the toilet, to go fix dinner, to feed my
dog and update status on facebook. Every time I pressed play again the
movie had the same boring aura that even the darkest scenes could not
create some kind of a mystical or dark feeling to it.
It was not a bad film but it could have given more. The ending could be followed by the killer surviving that shot and ending up in Paris or London to continue his killings, most viewers would agree with me on this.
The super computer contemporary style graphics on the ending titles are truly horrible,the guy who did those should get fired or something. It looks like an Iron Man 3 meets TRON movie ending or whatever, I thought I was watching another movie end titles....
As for Cusack his role should have been more melodramatic and dark, instead we get a youngish drunk fella that everybody wants to beat up because of his financial debts and silly behavior. I'm not a Poe expert but this looks like crap. Maybe there should be more scenes with Cusack drinking his liver out and do drugs like the From Hell movie. Cusack gives the character a very light approach that should not be there at all.
Also more scenes with ravens should have been added and much more blood.
Not the greatest movie I've seen but it stands out amongst the tons of crap produced during 2012 and 2011 and it is nice to watch this in a theater rather than your TV set.
Soundtrack is almost zero, could have been much better.
I give it a 4 skulls out of 10 on the Mike Enslin scale....
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Firstly The Raven has nothing to do with 1934 Karloff/Lugosi flick or
the 1963 Vincent Price movie - John Cusack stars as Edgar Allan Poe on
the trail of a serial killer who dispatches his victims according to
methods used in Poe's own stories. This is a clever conceit as far as
it goes, proposing to explain the mysterious last 10 days of Poe's
life. It slightly reminds me of Seven and The Abominable Doctor Phibes.
However here the focus is on Poe and the battle he faces against his
melancholic demons as much as the mystery.
Cusack is an excellent Poe, and Luke Evans as the police inspector who calls him in to help is equally good. There's sterling support from Brendan Gleeson and the film is well-shot and never less than watchable. Unfortunately the idea never quite develops as it should. After the first two murders the Poe's own murders story angle is slightly lost, and where it should be ingenious it is slightly predictable. The Pendulum death is too rushed to be effective (though it is gory) and the film's second half seems merely the familiar trope of Poe and Co rushing around after the serial killer's machinations, always second best until the very end.
That's not to say this is a bad film, though; it isn't - I found it very entertaining, the actors made me care about the characters, and the whole enterprise is well worth a look. And no, I didn't guess who the killer was!
Yup, this is a pretty good film out of the dearth of films available
lately...classic storytelling...good pace, dialogue was good, and I
normally get 'who done it' films straight away, but it took me a while.
The screenplay was excellent throughout except for a slight let down on the forest scenes where wide angle would have looked more professional, than the close up shots, but I really am splitting hairs.
I like John Cusack as a relatively lightweight actor, but this is a heavyweight role and he pulls it off......
Not sure about the modern Marvel style credits, but there again some people will like the modern twist it puts on a period drama. The ending was enjoyable but a little muddy to resolve...
I wish I had caught this in the cinema.
Nothing much to do with the original Poe poem, more of a composite of
some of his works. It posits that a maniac is on the loose in 19th
century Baltimore, and is acting out the writer's gruesome tales.
Handily, Poe himself is also in the same city.
John Cusack does his best as the investigating Edgar but is no match for Vincent Price, a previous occupant of this role. The direction is flat and while the film looks superficially handsome, it doesn't compare to the Roger Corman/Richard Matheson collaborations on Poe's The Fall Of The House of Usher and Pit And The Pendulum. Furthermore, there is a distinct absence of tension, sharp dialogue and a decent supporting case. The budget for this rubbish is $26m, and all you get is a reminder of what's wrong with so much of modern cinema.
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