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The Raven More at IMDbPro »

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

The Raven - I Had to Wait For Some Satisfaction

Author: davidgld19 from United States
16 July 2012

*** 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 tastes.

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.

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Not a bad film, but mediocre

Author: Argemaluco from Argentina
8 June 2012

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 elements.

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.

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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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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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