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Reviews & Ratings for
The Raven More at IMDbPro »

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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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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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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Strikingly Disappointing

Author: addresscanonlybe30letter from Pittsburgh
1 May 2014

So many things could have come of this movie. Unfortunately, the script was dreadful. Words like "nuts", "OK", "stuff" were simply not used in this time period. Inexcusable lack of research on the writer's parts. And the dialogue... ugh. One cliché after another, not even Cusack could make a believable character out of it. Amazing failure on the writer's part considering how often the subject matter would allow them to quote Poe.

It attempted to be a realistic portrayal of what really took place in the last days of Poe's life, but was marred by silly, unrealistic actions sequences and Final Destinationesque gore. An attempt to appeal to both audiences that will likely appeal to neither. One is always willing to suspend disbelief when watching a movie, but this required one to leave their brain at the door.

The only watchable part of the film was Luke Evans, who somehow managed to draw a straight line with this crooked stick of a script.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

The Tell-Tale Schlock

Author: petr_sfv
26 February 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

An unmitigated disaster of the "Wouldn't it be cool if...?" school of thought, The Raven's sole appeal lies in its deliciously cheesy, Hammer-worthy premise: the last days of Edgar Allan Poe as he investigates a series of murders inspired by his works.

The only mildly interesting element in this clunky, leaden, visually ugly venture is John Cusack, to ponder how deadly miscasting can be even to a fine actor. A vital, quirky performer with a markedly modern look, feel and sensibility, Cusack, saddled with horrendous dialogue and an absurdly whitewashed character (Poe's alcoholism is reduced to a zany flaw the hero has to overcome), is so flat-out WRONG for the part, his performance so miserable, lifeless and stammering, that he appears to scrape against the fourth wall every time he is on screen.

This is a role which called for a chameleon-like actor shamelessly hamming it up and chewing the scenery to surf on the overall silliness on the project - Gary Oldman immediately springs to mind. Cusack played it straight, and as such was doomed to sink with the movie and his fellow performers.

As for director James McTeigue... seriously, how did this guy manage to do V for Vendetta?


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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

I wanted to like it

Author: armandomontelongo715 from United States
24 May 2013

Hollywood has always tried to give us visual retellings of the works of Edgar Allan Poe. I was excited when reading about the Raven, seeing it as a combination of all Poe's most memorable works. It also stars one of my favorite actors from my younger days in John Cusack. That all being said, it just felt like it had all been done before. I had the end of the story figured out about a half hour into the film and spent the rest of the movie trying to close up the loopholes to the mystery before the film did.

The cast was good. I thought Luke Evans was great as the curious and never satisfied Detective Fields. Alice Eve, as always, was breathtaking as the helpless heroine Emily. Then we come to Poe, played by a man I have always loved in his roles, Cusack. It was interesting to see Cusack's take of an elitist, eccentric and highly intoxicated Poe. There were parts of this movie where I really got into his character. However, it was hard to get past the fact that it was John Cusack playing Poe. It didn't feel like Edgar, just felt like Cusack. That's not a knock, mind you. One of my favorite performers of all time is the immortal John Wayne and he could only play one role, himself.

That said, The Raven was a good thriller although the story does get a bit predictable in this revisionists tale of the last days of Edgar Allan Poe.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:


Author: John Wilson from United States
31 March 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Thought Cusak portrayed Poe very well, and the visual portrayal of the time in Baltimore of long ago was great. Only was in the theaters for two weeks? Did not think it was quite so bad.

Had problems with certain scenes, such as the man who turned out to be the villain being able to construct the pendulum. That scene was early, and had me leaning towards someone with a high mechanical/science aptitude being the villain- someone who would be able to construct such a contraption. And the scene at the church- was the villain an early Batman physical specimen? Perhaps the best summary is that the film could have been focused more on Poe and those writings he did to help save his Emily, and what was going-on with that, and maybe leave out a couple of the murders. Would say my biggest criticism was for the screenplay and Director's total package. Was gruesome, and did keep one's attention going, but not so sure Poe would have considered it worthy of his talents.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

A Genuine Review of The Raven

Author: Aliens2Alien80 88882222 from United States
13 February 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Raven is a 2012 horror film starring John Cusack as Edgar Allen Poe. So The Raven is about a killer patterning his murders after Poe's books. The Raven suffers from bad acting and overacting, but I think Luke Evans did a fair job. The Raven takes it self a tad to seriously and that is also a main problem. The las complaint is that the reveal is not very satisfying.Some of The Raven's strong points are the kills and the atmosphere it creates.I also wish that they had taken the time to make this more about the chills and less about the gore. Overall this film is good to watch,but you may be a little disappointed. See this flick if you want to see Saw in the 1800s. Skip it if you were looking for a horror flick with more substance and meaning. 6.5/10

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

A must see movie

Author: Patrick Lockett
4 February 2013

This is a great movie. John Cusacks performance as Edgar Allan Poe was phenomenal. Everything about this movie was fantastic. The visuals, the acting, everything. I went in thinking this movie would be alright but once I got to the end I was pleasantly surprised by just how much I enjoyed watching it. Unlike other movie pieces that have real world famous people being thrown into unreal circumstances, this movie truly makes you feel it could have happened and that Poes expertise would have been brought in to help the police bring this madman to justice. Some parts do seem a tad modern clichéd set in old times but it still works. Though long it is a must see movie and you don't have to be a fan of Poe to watch it, though after-wards you will feel a compulsion to look up his works and read them.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Interesting and clever

Author: phd_travel from United States
11 January 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is an intricate and fascinating if slightly anti climactic imagining of the events leading to Poe's real life mysterious death. A copycat serial killer murders people a la Poe's stories and he is brought in to help solve the crimes. His girlfriend gets kidnapped by the killer.

Obviously this will appeal to Poe fans. I know a few Poe's more famous stories it is quite fun to watch them appear. And it makes me want to read more of the less famous stories too.

The European filming locations give 19th Century Baltimore an old world feel.

John Cusack looks the part but he tends to resort to inaudible whispers and it ends up feeling like a weaker if less comical version of Nicholas Cage. The rest of the cast is mostly British with good enough accents including Luke Evans competently playing a detective on the case and Alice Eve the romantic interest for Poe.

In some ways this movie succeeds because it has a more real feel than the Sherlock Holmes cases and is quite tense in parts. Where it doesn't do well is the pace drags here and there and the ending is a logical but a bit anti climactic. I can see why it wasn't a huge hit but I think it is worth a watch.

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