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|Index||163 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A wonderful, macabre film, a la Shakespeare In Love, could be made from Edgar Allan Poe's work and life. The Raven, which uses his work in a serial killer investigation film, ain't it. The basic idea is modestly clever: a serial killer in 1849 Baltimore is murdering people using scenarios from Poe's stories. A police detective recognizes the pattern and pulls in the writer to help in the investigation. Not a bad idea had it been developed in an intelligent or witty way, like Time After Time or Shakespeare In Love. Instead it becomes a random hash of "clues" that have no consistent sense. Cusack, though he looks much healthier and in better shape than he has in years, is miscast as Poe. Although Poe as written: a horse-galloping, Colt .45 wielding hero, would be hard to play for anyone. (At the stage of his life depicted in the film Poe was in fact a deathly ill alcoholic in his last days.)Luke Evans, who plays the police detective Fields, is a ruggedly attractive void on the screen; Alice Eve as Poe's lover is bountifully beautiful and also a void; Brendan Gleeson plays her disapproving father as...very disapproving. Stick around for the end credits, though. They seem to arrive from a different film altogether and I swear that's Willie Nelson singing over a Nine Inch Nails musical backing. Very odd but it will help lift you out of your chair and the theater itself.
I was amazed to see some glowing tributes for this movie. Some went to
the extent of calling it a new dawn of detctive fiction in Hollywood.
Well, with all due respect, everyone to his own.
For me this movie was just trash. A poorly put together mix of scenes from the Spiderman, Rajnikant's Robot and a bunch of other popular Hollywood movies. This makes The Raven stand out as the best American Special effects movie till date, even going so far as to add a new beard to Poe's visage. I am no fan of Guy Ritchies's Holmes series but in comparison the UK block buster had more entertainment value than this crap.
McTeigue has just lost his sense of good movie making. He his committing to the wrong scripts and lifeless roles. This was no different. You feel nothing for Poe. The characters were lifeless. Why? Because, the murder mystery - angle was pathetic - it looked like it was made for 2 year old's - but somehow the beard works for Poe as well as it ever did for President Lincoln. Cheap movie making. The special effects were just nonsense and do little to draw the audience in to the experience. If the first few scenes tell you the story is nonsense then there is little salvaging to be done by the VFX team.
James McTeigue continues on his trek of directing technically competent films, but fails to make them interesting in the slightest. The Raven finds Edgar Allen Poe become involved in a series of murders based on his books. This is basically the pilot episode of Castle, but it goes on for a lot longer and takes itself so damn seriously. Cusack is fine as legendary poet and writer. His earlier scenes show his frustration and ego in full force as he berates fellow writers and the ignorant masses that fail to recognise his work. The period setting is brought to life well, and the Gothic nature of Poe's prose is well realised aesthetically. The problem is a lack of involvement. I didn't feel for Poe's relationship with Emily, which meant the whole sense of danger and fear was nowhere to be found. I couldn't care less who the killer was, nor his motive. There was nothing I hadn't seen before and the supporting cast are paraded around as possible suspects.I hope McTeigue can do more for The Wolverine.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I always enjoy atmospheric, Gothic horror movies, so that's probably
why The Raven is given a 6. Otherwise, I would have rated it lower.
In case you haven't read the synopsis, The Raven deals with Edgar Allen Poe in his last days when he is brought in by the police to find a murderer who's methods mirror Poe's own stories.
I liked the atmosphere and the settings. Baltimore, being such an old city, certainly has that certain creepy charm needed for a good horror story...which is always probably why Poe was drawn there. Anyway, aside from this, the movie fell short. The plot almost works but in most "mastermind murderer" films, the whole plot falls apart if the authorities aren't quick enough or are too quick. The long series of clues left by the killer all could have unfolded the entire movie. I know, we're supposed to suspend disbelief, but the more complex the conspiracy, the more likely it won't work.
I thought the ending was also poorly done, and if they had worked it better, it might have made the whole movie better. I think rather than have Reynolds escape to France, Poe should have done him in after he consumed the poison.
Anyway, The Raven probably could have/should have been a better movie. Poe certainly deserves a better treatment, being one of the original masters of the horror genre.
I didn't find Cusack lacking in his portrayal of Poe. The dialogue was decent, and the action kept the pace well enough, though sometimes, it seemed there was action just for the sake of having some action.
I'd watch The Raven if you like Poe or the time period, or Gothic horror...but I wouldn't say this will be one of your favorites.
Let me start be expressing how much I love John Cusak. I have loved him ever since I first saw him in Identity. So, needless to say, I was kind of biased going into this film. Perhaps if I knew more about the poetic icon Edgar Allan Poe I would appreciate this film much more then I did. However I knew nothing about him except that his work was dark. Compared to other Cusak movies I have seen, this was less then thrilling. Cusak's acting was great, as always, however I found myself dosing off during this less then exhilarating movie. If you're a Poe fan and followed his career, then you'll appreciate the way that everything Poe writes is played out in real life. If you're a Cusak fan and are looking for an exciting adventure packed movie, then keep on looking Perhaps pick up Identity.
Poe had one uncanny ability as a poet. He could entomb you in musky
atmosphere. That is because he probably felt entombed himself in a life
such as the stories he wrote, one of delirious memory and grievous,
haunted love. I remember reading and re-reading his stories as a kid,
feeling suffocated by the prose in ways I wouldn't know again until
The film zeroes in on the strange case of his death. We know that Poe was found one day in Baltimore wandering in a delirious state, was promptly hospitalized and died a few days later. What fascinates so much is that the clothes on him were not his own, he kept muttering the name of a 'Reynolds', and his whereabouts for the previous week could not be accounted for.
All in all, I don't care that this fails in the ordinary way. Covering much of the same ground as From Hell, sure enough it is tepid and generic. I think it was altogether a mistake handing this to the V for Vendetta guy, because though perfectly competent from a technical standpoint, he simply lacks passionate vision of his own.
I do care however that it was ruined in a key way.
The main narrative device is simple. The narrator is dying on that Baltimore park bench and hallucinates the story we see - everything else is in line with that, rescuing the woman of his dreams, his (real at the time) literary rival grisly murdered, a devout fan who flatters by imitation, one last story that makes headlines.
I believe the film was conceived in that mode, traces of that are still preserved in the penultimate scene of Poe's burial - a 'dream inside a dream', etc. But the studio evidently were going to have none of it and had them tack on a 'real' ending where justice is served, probably going on well-established Hollywood wisdom that 'it's all a dream' endings aggravate the audience.
Which is a misunderstanding of the device. Properly used (Mulholland Dr.), its point is not to cancel out a set of events, but subtly erode the common belief of a solid narrative ground in life, which simply isn't there. We all course through life in a constant stream of daydream, remembered distortion, and dramatic embellishment of events, the same as when a storyteller crafts his fiction.
Tim Burton? Oh, he could do this with some visual caprice, and with Depp a more memorable Poe (Cusack simply seethes his way through), but usage of the dreaming narrator would be likely just as poor, as evidenced in Big Fish and elsewhere.
No, this needed someone like Raoul Ruiz to have the focus be on half- remembered impression and dreamlike digress, but then it wouldn't make any money at all and audiences would complain that it makes no sense.
Normally I don't add a review if there are so many already, but I just
wanted to add a few thoughts about my overall impression. First off, I
am a HUGE John Cusack fan; and the thing that I usually like about him
is that no matter WHAT role he plays, he basically is always... well,
John Cusack. And that is just fine. BUT, and it is a BIG BUT like
Mariah Carrey's, since this is a period piece and it is about a VERY
well known, specific personality, I don't know, but I think that his
choice to play it like he always does was not correct. I think in THIS
case he really DID need actually to create another, darker, more
However, even with that said, I don't think that was what primarily detracted from the film.Now, overall the movie is lovely to look at and it is technically just fine and the overall tone is good since the director pretty much decided just to go the direct Thriller route. Okay... Personally, since it's setting is during that time, I think it would have played a LOT better if they had gone for a more Gothic look and tone, rather than giving it such an almost contemporary feel. It's like the producers got together and said, 'We want you to make another version of 'SHERLOCK HOLMES' (the one starring the excellent Robert Downer Jr.) But, considering the type of dark, tortured character and what this movie is about, I do not think that was the right choice.
A good example of sort of what I mean is the bloody EXCELLENT recent version of 'THE WOLF MAN' with B Del Torro. Now THAT film was frigg'n DRENCHED in Gothic atmosphere and REALLY made you feel that you were in the setting and time with a sh*tload of mood to spare. I personally feel that if they had approached this film a bit more with that slant rather than trying to copy the slick 'SHERLOCK HOLMES', I do honestly think it would have been much more powerful and substantive.
But, with that said, the director taking the film in the direction that he did, since he was either told to do so or chose to go that route, I think he still did a really decent job of putting out a quality movie that is entertaining. I just think that between Cusack's portrayal and the direction they chose to take the story detracted from what could have been a much stronger film.
So, yes, somewhat enjoyable, but I feel to some degree, out of place...
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Why this mediocre film got such good reviews is, well, a mystery.
Perhaps viewers were so impressed with the concept that they overlooked
the dull, shallow movie that was made from it.
And it is a great concept. After all, Edgar Allen Poe invented the detective story, so what would make more sense than casting him as the world's first consulting detective? And since his work bridged the rational and supernatural, he could have brought the light of reason to seemingly impossible crimes, a device that worked so well in the recent "Sherlock Holmes" movies. But this Poe does no detection at all, he just stands around looking stunned or drunkenly demanding that dockworkers in a bar acknowledge his poetic genius.
John Cusack is not up to the title role. When he should be melancholy and haunted he just looks bored, when he should be sick and haggard with worry he just looks like a slacker, when he should be horror-stricken he just looks like he's forgotten his lines.
At other times, he's a bit of a fast talker and rogue, pulling stunts like sneaking into a swank costume party or leaping aboard his girlfriend's carriage to slip her a love note. This sort of thing worked beautifully in "Shakespeare in Love" because that film was set in Shakespeare's young Bohemian days. "The Raven" is set in the final day's of Poe's career, so the teen antics don't make any sense. Cusack also fails to establish the slightest chemistry with his lead, an improbable and forgettable bit of blonde candy.
The writers have no ear for historical accuracy. Modern phrases like "serial killer" and "I need you to focus" litter the dialogue. Poe repeatedly uses his full name, though all fans know he hated the "Allen" surname. Fans also know that laudanum, not opium, was Poe's addiction. The booming shipyard town of Baltimore is completely wasted as a setting; all we see are a few carriages and the oh-so-expected underground.
Much of this could be forgiven if the plot held any genuine surprises. But no, all we get at the end is a stock villain hissing "I've always been an admirer of your work." The ingenuity, or at least effort, that goes into some of the murders is completely out of the question for a lone villain. And yet somehow the fiendishness fails to be scary or even intriguing. Yes, the filmmakers even managed to make being buried alive dull.
"The Raven" is not good on its own, even compared to the forgettable CGI-powered stuff that passes for horror today. But compared to the movie it could have been, it's a huge disappointment. It should have been walled up in a cellar forever.
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.
Truth be disclosed, we had high hopes for James McTeigue's The Raven.
The story about a serial killer who is inspired by the works of Edgar
Allan Poe suggested a Se7en meets Jack the Ripper tale and early
trailers for the film had us optimistic about the result.
John Cusack plays Edgar Allan Poe and he is portrayed as a struggling writer for a Baltimore newspaper who between bouts of over excessive drinking is romantically engaging Emily Hamilton (Alice Eve) much to the chagrin of her father Captain Hamilton (Brendan Gleeson) who has little patience for Poe's cockery and antics.
But Edgar Allan Poe's romantic endeavors have to take a back carriage seat when a mysterious killer begins to use murders as described in such Poe classic writings as The Pit and the Pendulum as his inspiration to his rampage. Detective Fields (Luke Evans) is quick to make the connection between the gruesome discoveries and Poe's literary prose and he teams with the author in an attempt to get closer to identifying the killer.
Adding one wrinkle to the events is the kidnapping of Emily Hamilton. Emily is not quickly killed, but is instead buried alive and now Poe and Fields must work through various clues and the odd mistake by the film's villain.
As aforementioned, much was expected from the director of V for Vendetta and Ninja Assassin. But from almost the first frame of The Raven, things go awry and the dialogue and the subsequent acting expected from the dialogue fails to lift the film towards any hint of a recommendation.
First and foremost is the miscasting of the usually reliable John Cusack. Ewan McGregor was originally cast in the role (with Jeremy Renner as Detective Fields), but both dropped out of the project to pursue other projects. Cusack's accent comes and goes and his portrayal of the eccentric Poe has him more of an ass-clown buffoon whom audiences could care less suffers or survives.
The killings were unmemorable save for poor Rufus Wilmot Griswold who gets cut in half by a pendulum that looks like it was rigged by the Jigsaw killer from the Saw franchise while spewing CGI blood throughout the room.
The action and drama that takes place between each murder is boring and poorly written and it culminates in an ending that looks to have been test-audience approved and neither satisfies those that suffered through the 110-minute running time nor does it bring appropriate closure to the cat-and-mouse events that preceded it.
The end result was such that we thought the film would be better titled 'The Rental'.
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