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I am a little bit conflicted about what to think and how to feel about
"The Raven", now finally having gotten around to watching it.
On one hand, then the storyline was rather good and nicely executed by director James McTeigue. And the story does manage to keep you wrapped in the dark about who is the killer that is using the scenarios from Edgar Allan Poe's literature.
Then on the other hand, it was a little bit too much, to take an iconic figure in the literature and put him into a murder mystery movie, somewhat resembling "Murder, She Wrote" just with a much bigger budget. And also the choice for John Cusack to play Edgar Allan Poe wasn't perhaps the best of choices. Now, don't get me wrong, John Cusack is a great actor and very talented, yes, but he just didn't seem at home or to fit in here in this particular movie or era. Perhaps a better choice would have been on Edward Norton?
Regardless, then "The Raven" is an entertaining movie and it does manage to keep you nailed to the seat right up to the very end. The story progresses at a nice pace, though it could have been great with an occasional twist here and there, instead of just running out a perfectly straight line. As such, then the story tended to come off as rather scripted and forced.
The actors and actresses on the cast list were actually a great ensemble of talents, and people really did bring a lot of personalities and flavor to the movie.
There is a lot of nice details and touches to the movie, and it does seem like the audience is actually right there back in the good old days.
It does bring something to mind, though, that a movie like this can be brought about, then is the next step a murder mystery with Howard Phillips Lovecraft?
in high school, I was a kind of fan of Poe. after years, this detail makes to have many and large objections about film. sure, it is not a biographic movie and the recipes of Sherlock Holmes is its axis. in same measure, it is an useful invitation to discover life and work of a great American writer. but... too many clichés. in a smart organization but not always compelling. Brendan Gleeson , who seems be the lookalike of Philip Seymour Hoffman, John Cusack who does a correct, almost impeccable role but he is not Poe, the option for Alice Eve as Emily are few pieces who create only a promising project but not a really good film. the atmosphere, the tension, the biographic details and crumbs of literature are assets of film but it remains common, gray, bone of a sparkle industry. and bad thing is the to ignore the potential of basic story. but the second chance is always alive.
I honestly don't understand why so many critics didn't like this film as I felt it was one of the better mystery crime thrillers in years. In a very creative and well made movie, Edgar Allan Poe's stories are brought to life and Poe himself must help solve the clues and catch the killer in order to save a woman's life. John Cusack does a remarkable job in the role of Poe and the rest of the supporting cast, featuring Luke Evans, Brendan Gleeson, and the beautiful Alice Eve, are strong as well. The plot develops nicely and the movie flows at a constant pace, never dragging or growing dull. It was far from perfect being plagued by the same "oh really" issues that plague so many other thrillers. What I mean by that is that many of the plot points hinge on various characters' unrealistically stupid decisions and/or reactions to things. Regardless, The Raven is still very much worth watching and I found it a grippingly entertaining movie.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
John Cusack, as Edgar Allan Poe, eats a human heart. Or does he just
slice it up a bit and the raven eats it? It was too dark to tell.
At heart, so to speak, this is one of those familiar serial-killer movies in which some madman imitates the various deaths that have taken place in Poe's stories. Poe is about at the end of his rope here, so he's all written out and the murderer has plenty of material to work with. Of course there are variations on the literary works. Yes, a man is strapped beneath a swinging pendulum but this time the pendulum is lowered -- quickly, so as not to bore the viewer with too much suspense -- until it cuts the victim in half and gets stuck somewhere in the thoracic spine.
I forget the first time this imitation-of-art device was used by a serial murderer. It might have been the unforgettable "The Eyes of Laura Mars," in which Tommy Lee Jones arranges the slaughtered bodies in ways suggestive of Faye Dunaway's fashion photos. Death imitating art. The most inventive example, among so many inventive examples, may have been "Copycat", in which the serial murderer imitates OTHER serial murderers, switching from one to another.
At any rate, somebody is knocking off the residents of Baltimore around 1840 and the police ask Poe to give them a hand since, after all, he's provided the killer with his inspiration. Poe doesn't prove to be a very good detective and Cusack doesn't prove to be a very good Poe. Cusack does his best, and he's been quite good in some other efforts, but he doesn't project the torture imposed on him by his fiends from hell. Also, Cusack doesn't do a very good drunk. He just sounds a little louder than usual. And his anger isn't too convincing. It has Poe's contempt in it, but not his savagery.
As for his friends from heaven, he has one -- the deliciously named Alice Eve, at once suggestive of bare puberty and sinful nakedness. We get to hear her read some of Poe's wildly alliterative and savagely tender lines: "And neither the angels in heaven above, Nor the demons down under the sea, Can ever dissever my soul from the soul Of the beautiful Annabel Lee."
Cusack gets it on with her, but in a way Poe was probably incapable of by that time in his life. Still, some of the writer's actual biography is insinuated into the dialog here and there. When he deploys the police force in a sewer or examines a corpse, he mentions that he's been in the military. "West Point. Don't worry -- I was expelled." After the murders, Poe's girl friend is buried alive somewhere and it's up to Poe to figure out where, judging from truly obscure clues left behind by the murderer at the crime scene. It costs him quite a lot.
The visual imagery has a good deal of impact. Every scene seems to be shrouded in darkness. I noticed only two exterior daylight scenes. The lanterns carried by people are only dim glows. The streets are cobblestoned so the hooves of horses and the wheels of carriage rattle loudly across them. It looks like what Baltimore might have looked like in 1840 but it was shot in Novi Sad, near where my dear old Gramps grew up, and in Budapest, where he did his internship as a carpenter. Eastern Europe is becoming a happy hunting ground for location scouts. You can't find anything that looks very 19th century in Western Europe anymore.
Cusack isn't a very affable Poe, but then Poe wasn't a very affable guy. But I'm amazed at the volume of his output, considering he died at such an early age. We know his poems and stories but he wrote much more than that -- literary criticism, newspaper articles, fantasies. And he wrote it all out with an old-fashioned pen and a pot of ink. It would take a normal lifetime just to copy it using Poe's tools.
I taught Poe's poetry and short stories for over 40 years, and I think
that "The Raven" strikes a useful compromise between Poe purists who
expect the feature-length film to satisfy devotees of Poe - and those
who either have never read Poe or have scarce knowledge of his works,
his style or his life.
John Cusack continues to select very challenging roles and to command my attention with his voice, his body, his use of stillness, space and time. I have seen John Astin's one man Edgar Allan Poe live performance, and I am amazed at Cusack's ability to create a sympathetic character considering Poe's struggles at West Point, with his stepfather, with substance abuse, poverty, and great discouragement considering his immense talent. I'd be curious to see the reaction, in general, of European audiences to this movie, spectators who, for the most part appreciate Poe far more than most Americans.
Alice Eve could just smile or read the phone book, and she'd make an impression; but she plays a courageous young woman; and in so doing, Eve must, herself, have been a more courageous person than I in enacting one of the most harrowing scenes in a Poe story; I could not have done it for love or money. She did it so well, it not only seemed to be really happening, I had to make myself breathe deeply, slowly and deliberately so that I would not panic; and I was just watching a movie.
Wickedness is delightfully horrible as depicted in this film, a grim reminder that great intelligence is not always utilized for benign purposes; and that flesh-and-blood chess games can be as deadly as a razor-sharp pendulum.
I have been a movie fan all of my life, and I must say I thought this film was a far better artistic accomplishment than any of the professional reviews I have scanned were willling to admit. I suppose that many critics feel they are paid to find fault with all but one or two movies every year because their critical acumen is always being weighed against the most successful reviewers.
There is violence, blood and gore and considerable disturbing mayhem in this film; but it's not overdone; it doesn't glorify any of the gruesome details, but audiences need to know that this is going to be a fictional (as far as plot) story involving Edgar Allan Poe, but also one which will weave actual details from many of his most famous works into the fabric of this movie. The gruesome is presented honestly.
Several readings of Poe's poetry are done in exemplary fashion. The European set is fitting in an exciting and dangerous-looking way, dark, dank, and tensely-expectant. Seemingly, candle light rules the interior shots. Surprises are not telegraphed, which makes their impact sudden and jolting.
I especially enjoyed watching the film a second time listening to the commentary by those who produced the film. I learned then, how a multitude of artistic and cinematic choices were actually made.
I would recommend the movie strongly for those who are familiar with Edgar Allan Poe and who have read and like his literary works. It is primarily a dramatic work, however, not a scholarly treatise, and I noticed three or four inaccuracies pertinent to Poe's life and works. The movie is good enough to inspire me to go back and read "The Telltale Heart," "The Cask of the Amontillado," and "The Pit and the Pendulum" as well as "The Premature Burial."
When a madman begins committing horrific murders inspired by the works
of Edgar Allan Poe (John Cusack), a young Baltimore detective (Luke
Evans) joins forces with Poe to stop him from making his stories a
The idea of setting a murder mystery in Baltimore at the time of Poe, with Poe as a character and with his stories as the inspiration seems genius on the face of it. Indeed, he is a great character in a great time and his stories are a great inspiration for murder (as we have seen in the many film adaptations that were inspired by his work). It does seem a bit weird to put a real man in a fictional story, but if we can have "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter", I guess it is okay.
If you have an issue with it, I understand your sense of accuracy and need for historical continuity. It might have made more sense to put the story after the time of Poe (say, the 1850s) and had the killer be inspired, with a detective who knows the tales well. Or have Poe trying to solve another murder, perhaps one that even happened. You know, like Mary Cecilia Rogers, the "beautiful cigar girl".
Some people had an issue with John Cusack's Edgar Allen Poe. I feel their pain. Although I loved Cusack's delivery of the lines, I never felt like he looked the part. He looked too much like himself. Ideally, they should have cast Jeffrey Combs. Combs not only looked spot on as Poe in "Black Cat", he did a one-man stage show. Combs eats, sleeps and breathes Poe. And, as an added bonus, he probably costs less than Cusack.
Luke Evans was great and stole the show with his incessant intensity. Every line was dramatic, and it worked. Evans kept the film alive for me, as did the beautiful scenery and cinematography. Whatever was lost with Cusack was gained with the coloration and lighting. Great, great work. I could have used less CGI blood, though.
The plot has several good moments and logically explained events, but,
in general, is rather uneven, with some protracted scenes not providing
additional value to the movie. Luckily, there is more crimes and less
mystery, no voices in the forest or inside heads or so (personally, I
do not find it thrilling to follow someone's going or being mad). As
for the cast, John Cusack + British actors give pleasant performances;
well, males mostly, I did not like female characters too much. Anyhow,
the movie does not become boring and the ending has several layers as
well, although you could guess the fate of Edgar Allan Poe.
Additional points as I did not guess who the guilty one was.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The Raven is a sub-par thriller movie, setting John Cusack as Edgar Allen Poe which most of you know as the writer of some awesome horror stories like the Black cat and the Masque of the Red Death, and the famous poem, the Raven. Only the movie is not about him, or any of his works at all. Cusack is so so in his role, he doesn't actually look like how Poe is depicted and his character isn't well developed throughout the movie at all. We only know that he is Poe and he wrote the raven and a bunch of stories and that is it. The real deal is the killer who is murdering people on occasions inspired by Poe's stories. Why? Not explained. Even the killings aren't very well done, since Poe's stories never really focus on the kills but more on the human mind committing them. None of this here. The setting is actually good, with top hats and misty streets obscuring your vision and a Jack the ripper-esque killer on the loose gives you chills but there is no story underneath it all. Poe has to explain each time which story it was because the murders are tangential and not really the same as what his stories tell. And the fact that the real E.A. Poe is found dead on a street is woven into the story when the killer poisons him! See it all comes together! Right?? No!! They should have just made a generic movie and leave Poe out of this, like "In Hell" but noo it had to based on someone.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Okay, this wasn't "Abe Lincoln Vampire Hunter" awful.
It's a period piece movie with a famous historical figure in it. This was actually sort of plausible. Someone is killing people using methods found in the works of Edgar Allen Poe, who is down on his luck at that point in his career. A clever young detective figures it out and enlists Poe to find the killer.
Meanwhile, the killer kidnaps Poe's fiancé, and this becomes the typical race against time plot.
The ending is predictable. I figured it out about ten minutes before the characters did.
Still, the movie looks great, there are great homages to Poe's stories (and I was familiar with more of them than I thought I was) and for the most part the story kind of works. The period costumes are pretty good as well.
I was not sure what to expect from this film, but seeing as how I could
borrow it for free I would watch it. Turns out it was a really good
movie as it featured a fine performance from John Cusack as Edgar Allen
Poe, a nice kill here and there and a nice mystery to try and unravel.
I am surprised that it did not perform better at the theaters as it was
a nice change of pace from all the comic book films I usually watch.
The story has Edgar returning to Baltimore at a time a gruesome murder is taking place. One that seems to be a copy of his work "Murders in the Rue Morgue". Other heinous crimes occur, all seeming to be based off Poe's work. Poe becomes the prime suspect, but the investigator on the case soon realizes it is not the troubled author so he soon enlists Poe's help to try and find the person responsible. Unfortunately for Poe, this killer soon brings Poe in directly by kidnapping Poe's beloved and challenges Poe to find her before she dies.
I liked the cat and mouse of the game as the investigator and Poe try to solve the killer's bizarre and twisted clues to learn his identity before it is too late. I was not sure what to expect from the film, but it turned out to be a very dark and a bit of a sad film. John Cusack did great as Poe, but all of the cast did a fine job. They also did a nice job of recreating Baltimore in the time period this film takes place. I am sure if I really looked I could find a mistake or two, but I never really try to look for anachronisms when watching a movie unless it is like totally obvious or the movie is not good.
So all in all a good mystery type movie with some horror elements in it. The best death was a bit early in the film, it being the one that copied the Poe story "The Pit and the Pendulum". None of the other deaths were quite as graphic as it. However, the film's story was good enough that I did not need to see a bunch of over the top brutality.
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