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The Raven More at IMDbPro »

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Another Poe

Author: kosmasp
1 August 2012

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) ...

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Blue's Clues for adults

Author: KineticSeoul from United States
25 June 2012

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.


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4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

All 4 people in my party rated it a 7/10

Author: witster18 from United States
28 April 2012

*** This review may contain 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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5 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

not Sherlock Holmes

Author: dsmeek40 from Maryland
26 April 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It thought the movie was weak throughout. Cusack is another one of those actors (like Tom Cruise and Keanu Reeves) who can only play himself. He is never the character, and this doesn't help the film at all because it isn't Poe we are watching; it is Cusack. He's not engaging like RDJ's Sherlock or even fun like Depp's Ichabod Crane (Sleepy Hollow). His character is hollow, and I didn't feel for him once, even at the end. That said, the actress that played his love was much more engaging, even though she was only half the love equation, the other half, of course, missing from an emotionally bland Poe.

The settings were great and the action and suspense (and there is some gore) is pretty good, but because Cusack is so lame, one never gets the sense of urgency and despair about his love being kidnapped and perhaps dying. You don't get it from him; from her, you get a lot.

Perhaps the best actor in the entire performance, is the villain, and this is the real tragedy because you don't get to meet him until the very end, and then it's over. He has his moment, and he is terrific, more engaging than even Moriarty opposite Sherlock. I think if we'd gotten more of this man throughout the film, it would have been much better, or if we had had a better actor than Cusack, one who could sell the part of a tortured soul, the movie would have been worthy of its namesake.

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6 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

When Art Leads to Madness

Author: Chris_Pandolfi from Los Angeles, CA
27 April 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

On October 3, 1849, a delirious and incoherent Edgar Allen Poe was found wandering the streets of Baltimore. Upon being taken to the hospital, he was reported to have repeatedly called out the name Reynolds, although he could not explain how he came to be in such dire straits. He finally died on October 7 at the age of forty. His exact cause of death has never been determined, and the death certificate and all medical records have been lost. Over the next century and a half, numerous causes have been postulated. They range from alcoholism to heart disease to syphilis to epilepsy to cholera to rabies to meningeal inflammation. Director James McTeigue and screenwriters Ben Livingston and Hannah Shakespeare have manufactured their own reason in "The Raven," a crime thriller in which a serial killer draws inspiration from Poe's works.

On the basis of its incredibly low Rotten Tomatoes score, I seem to be one of the few that found this film clever and incredibly engrossing. I view it not as a historical reenactment, but rather as a detective story no more preposterous in plot and characterization than one of Poe's stories. Like the author himself, the makers of this film are guilty of little more than indulging in dark fantasies for the sake of popular entertainment. In my view, they succeeded; the film is not merely a taut, complex, and suspenseful mystery but is also a triumph of art direction and cinematography, with bold colors and deep shadows populating the visual landscape. It's also a surprisingly good character study, albeit only in regards to Poe, played with terrific emotional range by John Cusack. The remaining characters border on typecasts, although considering the genre, this is appropriate.

In the film, Poe is an emotionally broken alcoholic at the end of his career – a man who can't come to terms with the fact that he isn't the celebrity he should have been. His real-life status as a literary critic allows for passages of dialogue that exhibit delicious intellectual scorn. Watch early scenes in which he argues with his newspaper editor (Kevin R. McNally), and you'll know what I'm talking about; rather than compose acidic critiques of poets such as Longfellow, he repeatedly pressures Poe to resume writing gruesome horror stories, as it's well known that macabre fiction is what readers love. He finds solace in the love of his life, a young woman named Emily Hamilton (Alice Eve), who thinks "Annabel Lee" is one of the most romantic poems she has ever read. Her father, a retired colonel (Brendan Gleeson) despises Poe on general principles and refuses to let his daughter have any contact with him. Naturally, they meet on the sly.

Meanwhile, a police inspector named Emmett Fields (Luke Evans) is hot on the trail of a serial killer whose victims' fates are disturbingly similar to events described in Poe's stories. A mother and her twelve-year-old daughter, for example, are murdered in a room that was locked from the inside and had a window that was seemingly nailed shut. Fields' familiarity with Poe's work allows him to determine that the window is actually locked by a trick mechanism, one that, when triggered, would allow it to freely open. Poe is initially treated as a suspect, but in due time is brought on board as an adviser, as only he can make sense of the clues left at the various crime scenes. One of the victims meets his end in a rather gory reenactment of "The Pit and the Pendulum." It's determined that the victim is Poe's bitter rival, literary critic Rufus Griswold. (Note: The actual Rufus Griswold was never sliced in two, although he did passionately dislike Poe, having held a grudge against him since 1842.)

Emily is kidnapped at a masked ball orchestrated by her father. At that point, every subsequent murder serves as a clue pointing to her location. As Poe and Fields desperately attempt to piece evidence together during a limited window of opportunity, we see Emily as she struggles to maintain her breathing in a very shallow coffin. Its location is not made apparent to the audience, although we do get restricted glimpses of a dark room filled with books. This is as it should be; we should be trying to solve the mystery along with the characters. Clearly inspired by "The Premature Burial," this subplot allows for one of the film's most effective shots, in which the camera pans from left to right so as to reveal a cross section of the coffin.

At this point, I will not describe any more of the plot, as there are twists that shouldn't be given away. I will instead turn my attention to a conversation held during the climax, at which point we delve into the unexplainable and sometimes dangerous world of fandom. In spite of the dialogue, which was at times a bit mechanical, I was blindsided by how well the filmmakers addressed a contemporary issue within the context of historical fiction. We know that art and artists can drive a person towards madness, but we have yet to fully understand why. It's precisely because of this that I believe "The Raven" is a lot smarter than most are giving it credit for. It's also tremendous entertainment, not only because it revels in the macabre but also because, like a good detective story, it dares the audience to play along in a game of cat and mouse.

-- Chris Pandolfi (

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9 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

Never Say Nevermore

Author: jeddjong from Singapore
26 June 2012

In National Treasure, America's founding fathers were the guardians of a secret treasure stash. In the Men In Black films, Elvis, Steven Spielberg and Sylvester Stallone (who is coincidentally planning his own Poe biopic) are aliens. The Brothers Grimm fought mythical monsters. Here, Edgar Allan Poe is roped in by Baltimore's finest to solve a series of murders based on his stories. This may not seem as impressive, but taking into account the legendary author's dark imagination and famously macabre stories, the crimes are pretty gruesome. This is the guy credited with the creation of the modern horror and detective stories, after all.

There is tremendous potential in the idea of Poe pitted against a killer who takes direct inspiration from his tales. Unfortunately, most of it is squandered in favour of unsophisticated slasher movie fare. "People love blood and murder", Reynolds (Kevin R McNally) the newspaper editor tells Poe. And in that respect, the movie delivers – the most gruesome murder happens relatively early on in the movie, where the victim is cut in half by a lowering bladed pendulum, something out of a Saw film – though Poe did it first in The Pit and the Pendulum. Problem is, more people are likely to have a Saw film than read Poe's story.

John Cusack's Poe is quite a disappointment. He's portrayed as the typical eccentric artist, and there's no mystique or danger, especially given the enigma the real Poe was. Cusack also doesn't fit into the period surroundings at all; one would half expect him to lift a ghetto blaster over his head. At its worst, it brings to mind Nicolas Cage – not a good thing.

Inspector Fields, as played by Luke Evans, is earnest, hardworking, dedicated – and absolutely one-note and boring. The interesting dynamic that might have existed between the author and the policeman is all but absent. The inclusion of Alice Eve as Emily Hamilton, a love interest for Poe, is done rather lazily, considering that he had a wife but was famously asexual and apparently only loved her platonically. But that would have been too difficult to portray and would have gotten in the way of the pulpy thrills now, wouldn't it? And so, she's quickly put in jeopardy as a motivator for Poe, and to force Poe and her disapproving father (Brendan Gleeson) to work together.

When the identity of the killer is revealed, it is more likely to induce an indifferent "meh" as opposed to the desired "gasp!" And that's the cardinal sin when it comes to whodunits. Director James McTeigue also delights in heavy-handed faux-symbolism – just because the title of the movie is "The Raven" doesn't mean one or more of the birds have to flutter into frame in every other scene. However, the art direction and the re-creation of 19th Century Baltimore are generally pretty good. So, this is pretty much average Poe.

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15 out of 30 people found the following review useful:

Poe would be Ashamed

Author: Richard Reilly ( from Colorado
30 April 2012

Poe would castrate all the men involved in the making of this movie. I may not know much about Edger Allen Poe, but I know that much. The start of the movie's problem is that John Cusack was casted to play a man who is eloquent and drunk throughout. Cusack cannot pull off either. Every time he manages to piece together another "eloquent" sentence, it's difficult not to laugh at the face Cusack makes. It's almost like he is confused at the meaning while simultaneously pleased that he was successful in delivering the line. It kind of reminds me of George W. Bush. The Raven is written by two people who have never written a big-screen flick and directed by someone who has never directed by himself before. The only way this movie ever got funded is because some studio realized that plenty of people would go see a movie about Poe. Unfortunately, the script was so horrible that only the actors who care about money would take it. I assume Cusack got the part because Nicolas Cage was busy. The Raven is built on one of the worst scripts I have ever heard. The story tries to build up a suspenseful mystery. It doesn't work. You will spend most your time trying to figure out all the plot holes. Eventually you will give up and try to enjoy the acting instead. That won't work. If it's not the bad acting, it is the words they are saying. I cringed no fewer than ten times at the absurd dialogue that the screenwriters try to shove down their actor's throats. Luke Evans plays Detective Fields in The Raven. At first, I was confused by his role. Was he simply drunk or depressed in his first scene. As the movie carries on, you will find that there is nothing wrong with his character. The problem is in his acting. He is supposed to be dark in a mysterious way. Instead, he comes across as a pouting 15-year-old girl who goes on a city-wide search for her lost lipstick. Luke Evans deserves a Razzie for this atrocious acting job. Please stop giving him roles. There is no reason to see this movie. If you like Edger Allen Poe, stay far away from this movie. It destroys everything that is Poe by trying to explain the mystery that surrounds his final days. If you don't like Poe and simply want to see a good mystery, go see The Woman in Black instead. This movie is a likely contender for "The Worst Movies of 2012."

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16 out of 32 people found the following review useful:

A hash, possibly a stew

Author: ( from Houston, TX
28 April 2012

*** 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.

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17 out of 34 people found the following review useful:

Don't even illegally download it!

Author: TheSquiss
17 June 2012

I really like John Cusack. He's a fine actor who's made some superb films and is vastly underused and underrated. Top of the list of Cusack's successes is Grosse Pointe Blank, a fab, funny, box-office flop that has achieved the dubious accolade of 'cult status' via DVD success. Then there's, ah, um… Oh. Realization dawns. I really like John Cusack because of Grosse Pointe Blank! Oh, he was a hero for a while with Say Anything, became cool with Being John Malkovich and Pushing Tin and entertained with the likes of Con Air and Runaway Jury but actually, he's made fewer great films and displayed less versatility than, well, River Phoenix, with whom he made Stand By Me. The dead star of Stand By Me… And so we come to The Raven, a film that River Phoenix wouldn't be seen de… Nope. Let's stop there.

Cusack stars as Edgar Allan Poe, who joins forces with a detective to catch a serial killer who's using Poe's own stories as a framework for his killings. I'm not sure that it was directed by anyone but the name on the credits is James McTeigue, the director who had more success with V for Vendetta and not much else.

It's not as bad as Johnny Depp's similar and rare flop From Hell but it isn't good. No, it's bad. Very bad. It is as bad as From Hell. Don't go to see it and don't rent it. Don't even illegally download it.

What was going through their minds? Even the closing credits and theme song are awful and completely at odds with the 'feel', such as it is, of the film.

I could have had an early night instead.

Another film review from The Squiss. For more reviews from The Squiss subscribe to my blog at

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42 out of 84 people found the following review useful:

Unfortunately Over Acted & Boring

Author: vlevensonnd-1 from United States
28 April 2012

I have a great appreciation of Poe, and I have a great appreciation of Cusack. What the he__ went wrong with this movie? From the very first statement that showed on the screen that he was found dead on park bench, I thought, "What???" Poe was found face down in a gutter in front of Ryan's Saloon and died three days later of what was suspected of alcoholism, with a remote possibility of complications of diabetes, or even rabies, however, shortly before his death, it was reported that he was behaving in a manner consistent with mild epilepsy, or of his bipolar disorder. OK, Oh well, it's Hollywood, right?? From the get-go, the acting was so over the top, and made Cusack appear to be an unseasoned newbie, however, Luke Evans shined in his role. The script appeared to be written rapidly and without care.

It said it was a horror movie, however, it is actually a murder mystery, and not a very good one. Agatha Christie would've definitely thrown this one out. If the author makes the suspect way too un-obvious, then what is the fun it in?? This could have been done so far better then what the final product actually was. Unfortunately, it was a large disappointment. Better luck next time.

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