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*** 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.
This film beings with "On October 7, 1849, Edgar Allan Poe was found,
near death, on a park bench in Baltimore, Maryland. The last days of
his life remain a mystery." I loved it, in fact I was so intrigued I
googled it. Well the last sentence was right.
That rather set the tone of the film from then on for me. Not only was Poe found on the 3rd of October but everything people know about his character was mainly formed by a man named Rufus Wilmot Griswold. Griswold and Poe were enemies for years however Griswold somehow held Poe's literary rights and wrote the biography on Poe which seems to have inspired the characterisation of Poe in this film. Griswold depicted Poe in the way he wanted to, whatever Poe was actually like we will never know thanks to Griswolds slander. That said I have always loved John Cusack, his performances (no matter the general standard of the film) are always great. He worked extremely well with the hand he was dealt and had someone else been Poe I would not have watched past that opening text.
Other than Cusack the film is aesthetically very nice to look at and the actors are trying their best with with a ham-fisted script full of clichés and bad lines. Along with the inaccuracy surrounding the dates of Poe's death which I can forgive (everyone should be allowed artistic licence) the second victim is Ludwig Griswold (which is the pen-name of Rufus Wilmot Griswold). I understand that stories will bend the truth and take artistic licence but isn't killing the man that wrote Poe's obituary and subsequent biography taking that licence too far?
Ignoring my annoyance at those details (and possible nit-picking behaviour in noticing them). I found the story to have little substance. I loved the idea of it and read the positive reviews but it makes too many silly mistakes (using a magnet to retrieve a lead bullet? Really?) and the script doesn't hold up to scrutiny. It was boring. My advice if you want to waste an afternoon watching something pretty go for it, however if you have more than two brain cells and access to Google, find something else.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It's as if somebody tried to mix Sherlock Holmes with the life of a very famous writer (which makes sense, because one of Poe's stories inspired the character, but that's off subject, and I think whoever created this movie is too ignorant to even know that). They made this idiotic, vain, pompous, arrogant and attempted "player" out of Edgar Allan Poe to a point that I find offensive. Yes, he was a drunk, and yes, he never enjoyed success in his life, but I seriously doubt he would walk into bars flaunting himself and saying "I'm Edgar Allan Poe, will you fools just stand in awe at my eloquence, How can you not realize the God that I am?". Anyone who knows the life of this man, or at least read his works with some seriousness could tell you that he was probably a very quiet guy, with a drinking problem, who often locked himself in his place in the middle of the night, sticking to his reading and writing. The mediocrity of the script was enhanced due to the way Edgar Allan Poe was handled and mangled to fit into a dumb Hollywood film and his character changed entirely. Another thing: Clearly the identity of the killer was a last-minute random decision made by whoever wrote this piece of ...movie, we had never even heard of the guy until the end. And his motive? He had a thing for killing famous writers which led him (I'm laughing my ass off in sarcasm as I say this) to want to kill Jules Verne as well. I believe he even said to Poe "You remind me of him". Seriously? How can Edgar Allan Poe even remotely remind anyone of Jules Verne? If you don't admire or don't care about Edgar Allan Poe, this movie will still be bad, only you won't be deeply offended by it, hell, you might even enjoy it. Sometimes I like watching bad films if I'm bored enough. Peace!
*** 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.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Here in "The Raven (2012)" at the beginning of this film; gore, slash &
hack may drive the characters instead of the characters driving the
gore, hack & slash. This direction may result in poorly developed and
unemotional story growth. This depends upon your personal dramatic
For example, the movie "Silence of the Lambs" may have been written and directed in a more structurally effective emotional method that intends to compel audience involvement where at the end of the movie your heart begins to thump in your chest.
When you look to the classical past to the dramatic plays of William Shakespeare, blood does not hit the floor driving characters into action. The character drives why the blood hits the floor. Here, the development of Edgar Allen Poe is that he's a pitiful, unsuccessful, manic, drunkard and people are starting to be murdered. We know nothing about the murderer. This vacuum about the killer does not compel.
Firstly, for some reason I tend to categorize John Cusack with actor Shia LaBeouf. Both seem to display and act in sometimes inappropriate hyper-kinetic emotional and physical ways to dramatic plot motivations. This results in an unsuccessful attempt to compel a discerning audience into involvement with the story. I find myself attracted to subtleties & nuances. Subtle teasing, brief hints, misdirection, then pay off.
Personally, there was no emotional immersion until 23-minutes 48-seconds before the end of this film. Getting to this moment was uncomfortable. The road was too bumpy and strayed from the final destination.
"The Raven (2012) gets 5 out of 10 stars.
Author Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) is one of those historical figures
who wake the interest not only because of their work, but also because
of their venturesome life (and death), which perfectly reflects the
"tortured artist" archetype. For better or for worse, this has inspired
all kinds of "adaptations" through the decades, which very few have to
do with Poe's short stories and poems; the most recent example is the
film The Raven, which despite not being bad, fails on two important
The screenplay from The Raven shows some ingenuity in combining "reality" with fantasy, incorporating parallels between the characters from the film and Poe's tales (for example, Inspector Fields is obviously an allusion to Auguste Dupin, the famous "knight detective" from Murders in the Rue Morgue and The Purloined Letter). The dialogues cunningly evoke Poe's prose, adding a humorous subtext which lightens the movie and makes it more accessible. The clues left by the murderer create a moderately interesting mystery, which gets increasingly intense as the crimes become more elaborate and straightly affect the main character. And I also have to say that co-screenwriters Hannah Shakespeare (?) and Ben Livingston made the effort of studying Poe's biography in order to bring us an apocryphal, but well raised, theory about the author's last days. However, The Raven didn't leave me very satisfied, because as I previously mentioned, it fails on two important elements.
To start with, we have James McTeigue's weak direction, which displays a general poorness of vision and "personality" in every aspect from the film. And I'm not referring to the slow rhythm from the film...I'm talking about a lack of energy which avoids us to get interested in the characters, or have enthusiasm for the mystery's solution. This is definitely not the same McTeigue who directed V for Vendetta and Ninja Assassin. The other big problem from The Raven is John Cusack. I generally like this actor's work, but his performance in this movie is atrocious. I felt him too frivolous and casual; I could never feel his character's internal conflict, nor the melancholy which has followed him during his whole life. On the opposite, Cusack's Poe is simply Cusack with a beard, gesturing exaggeratedly and trying to make us believe the character's tortuous past without any result. Cusack's bad performance reminded me of the episode The Black Cat from the TV series Masters of Horror, in which the great Jeffrey Combs brought an extraordinary work as Poe. The episode itself wasn't very remarkable, but Combs' performance has stayed in my memory, because with only his look we could feel the character's depressed spirit, the weight of his vices and the anguish for the unavoidable future.
In conclusion, The Raven offers some positive elements, but failed on two very important aspects, such as the direction and the main actor's performance, so I can only give it the slightest recommendation. After the not very satisfactory experience I had with The Raven, I think I will re-watch some of the adaptations of Poe's tales made by director Roger Corman. They weren't very respectful to the literary versions, but they were full of atmosphere and excitement.
I think this movie might be appalling to Poe fans. I'm not that
familiar with everything concerning Edgar Allan Poe, so I might not be
the best judge, if you try to find out if this is anything like him or
close to what is known of him. But I don't think that matters much for
this movie. Quite the opposite, I really think this movie works as a
thriller (even with a heightened? Poe in it!).
I like John Cusack in it and it does have a few scary moments in it too. The cast overall is good. And while the story might go where you expect it to go (I don't think there will too many surprises), I still think it works quite fine. A nice little thriller, that might get hurt by the name it got or not. Another take that might be compared to the recent Holmes adaptations (by Guy Ritchie) ...
The idea of incorporating Edgar Allan Poe one of the most famous
writers of all time and his gristly stories together seems like a
pretty cool idea. But the execution wasn't that great, but it's a good
effort. And is worth seeing at least once. The plot is about Edgar
Allan Poe(John Cusack) who is portrayed in a very arrogant character
who is also a drunkard on the trail with Inspector Emmett Fields(Luke
Evans)to catch a killer that kills people in the same manner it's told
in Poe's stories. Now this might be a interesting premise but it goes
in a pretty one dimensional direction without pulling hardly any major
twists. The killer keeps giving the trackers clues and they follow that
clue and that formula is used over and over again. This would be okay
if it didn't go in such a narrow direction to the point it gets dull
after a while. It got my attention sometimes but got bored easily a lot
as well. John Cusack as Edgar was alright but it seemed like he didn't
really care about his role that much. Luke Evans is good in this and
his emotions really pour out and makes his desperation to catch the
killer believable. The motives of the killer and who the killer is made
is the main driving factor of this movie and not how Poe's stories got
incorporated in this movie in a creative and imaginative way. Which is
the main disappointment for this flick. I got the motive of the killer
pretty early on but was hoping there would be more to it, but there
wasn't. It's a okay detective style movie but nothing much you probably
seen in this type of genre. On the plus side I did like how they mixed
reality with fiction although there is way more fiction in this.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
VERY, VERY MILD SPOILERS.
It's a good movie. "The Raven" takes a little while to get going, but the film has some very strong characteristics and the last half is excellent.
My guess is that the majority of negative reviews will harp on the films slow first 35-40 minutes, or about some historical inaccuracies(I always hate those nitpickers on the historical accuracy of subjects of which I wouldn't know what was historically accurate or not - so who cares right?) I went to see the film with my mother, step-father, and my wife. I should note: while we only gave the film a 7/10 as a group - a huge portion of the audience actually applauded at the end of a film. You don't see that very often nowadays, so I thought it was noteworthy.
There wasn't much to choose from when I looked in the paper Friday morning, and seeing how I'm the family movie-buff, I was entrusted to make the final decision on the movie.
Now, I wasn't dying to see this, but stacked up against options like "American Reunion", "Safe", and other "gambles in my mind"; I thought going with Cusack and the director of "V for Vendetta" was the safest bet. Had I been on my own - I would have had trouble picking between "The Raven" and "American Reunion". I like Stathom, but had heard some negative reviews on "Safe". I also knew that I would ultimately see it as a rental.
"The Raven" is in the vein of "From Hell", or "Sleepy Hollow", and probably towards the latter in terms of quality.
John Cusack is FANTASTIC as Poe, a smart, witty, drunk that prints macabre tales, but otherwise seems like a pretty nice guy. When a series of killings turn out to be re-enactments of his previous work - he is instantly a suspect.
Brendan Gleeson is good(as always) as the father of Cusack's love interest, Alice Eve, and another noteworthy performance comes from Luke Evans as the detective assigned to the case.
The last half of the film moves at a nice pace compared to the first half, and the audience is really drawn in to root for Poe's character.
The style and direction are sharp, and there isn't much to criticize in terms of quality here - this is/was a nice production.
The few grotesque scenes are very effective. Kudo's go out to the computer imaging and make-up teams for making this look extremely real.
I was a bit surprised to see this ranked at 6.8 - even though that's really close to what my group rated the film. I suspect it has probably bottomed-out here. I don't expect it to go any lower. This film should hover around 7.0 by the time all is said and done.
Even though I haven't seen the other films at the theater - I have the feeling this is probably one of the best options(if not the best) for a trip to the movies this weekend. It's definitely the best option for the "adult" crowd.
Nice to see an effective film that didn't need to rely on a bunch of T&A, Mass-killings(there's only about 6 or 7 here), or over-blown CGI. I enjoyed it. It might even be worth buying and adding to the collection down the road.
You'll like this if you liked:From Hell(not as good as this), Sleepy Hollow(about even with this, or call me crazy I might have enjoyed The Raven a touch more!), Ninth Gate(not as good), or The Prestige(a little better).
Welcome back John Cusack. Perhaps his strongest performance since 1990's "The Grifters", or at least 2000's "High Fidelity".
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