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Film Only Review:
I watched this 2012 thriller movie because I am a huge fan of it's main star John Cusack. I thought the part of playing a fictional version of the writer Edgar Allen Poe sounded perfect for Cusack. Unfortunately I found the movie to be uninspired and lacking soul, embodying none of the drama and passion that can be found in the horror poems and stories that Poe penned and which are referred to in the plot of the movie.
The story is set in the 1800's where an investigation into murder begins after people start to be killed in the fashion of some of Poe's fictional victims. Poe is brought into this investigation as a helper, the man who potentially knows the crime scenes best since he invented them (albeit in a fictional world). Poe's involvement in the case deepens when his love interest Emily (played by Alice Eve) is threatened.
I feel that the movie has a mish-mash of moods and tones which don't really fit together. It begins by trying to make us champion the loving couple of Poe and Emily by having semi-comical matchmaking scenes. It feels like the film's writers are trying much to hard to make the couple likable and the romance seem genuine. In fact it seems clumsy and out of place with the rest of the film.
Later we have some interesting and dark death scenes where Poe's excellent imagination is brought to life in the most gruesome fashion. Unfortunately there is a lack of drama and real gritty darkness concerning the most important parts of the film. I also don't feel like Cusack really delves deep enough into the Poe persona, although it's clearly the script that has him chained.
The supporting cast are rather unmemorable and unfortunately when a crucial reveal occurs towards the culmination of the plot I found it to be unsatisfying and the importance or relevance of the person revealed is questionable.
I do feel like this could have been a great story and a great movie given the subject matter but there is a lot wrong with the film and I think most people will find it underwhelming. It's certainly not a role that Cusack will be remembered for and it's not a film that fits into any particular genre with ease - it's definitely not a horror and it's a rather lightweight thriller or mystery. Ultimately it's a disappointing film.
The film starts off quite slow and its all circled around a young writer named Edgar Allan Poe who is played by John Cusack. It is based around the olden times and When Poes writing starts to die down and no one seems to want to read his work no more, a pyscotic killer decides to start killng people in ways thats he copies from Poes stories untill the killer moves in a little bit closer to home and kidknaps the love of his life Emily who is played by Alice Eve. The killer then starts killing other people and sending Poe down a staircaise of spiral clues that mean he not only has to work together with the poilce to stop his stories becoming reality, but also so he can rescue emilly before her time runs out.
Each clue he recieved comes off the dead bodies that they find with a bit of a dark twist. As the poilce and Poe race against the clock to save Emilly they also have to try to stay one step ahead of the killer so they need to figure out what his next move will be to, In order to save the innocent people that are in the killers grasp whilst also trying to figure out who the killer is.
The film itself in my opionion takes a while to kick in properly but once it dose it keeps your mind wondering and trying to figure out who the killer actually is.
The actors do a great job and keep things intense.
The detective is played by Luke Evans and im quite sure you will recongnise a few of the others in the film.
Its a cuddle up to the sofa and get a takeaway kind of film and would recommend buying it.
Its a film for the adults and i would not recommend that anyone under the age of 16 watching it as there is some quite grusum bit in it.
Mystery surrounds the final few moments of Edgar Allan Poe's death. He was found wandering the streets uttering the word "Reynolds" like a lunatic. Of course, Poe was known for his alcohol and opium use. Those are the two main drugs we in the 21st Century are aware of. Who knows what else was running through his system. And "The Raven" wants to clear things up about his death. But obviously, this highly fictionalised account is nonsense of course. The film wants us to believe that Poe (John Cusack) was busy running down the dodgy neighbourhood of Baltimore trying to solve crimes based on his novels. Of course, nothing like this probably happened, but for the sake of our amusement and entertainment, why don't we immerse ourselves in this highly imaginative world director James McTeigue ("V for Vendetta") sets up for us? There is a lunatic on the loose who re-enacts the gory crime scenes written by Poe. The pendulum, the body up a chimney, burying someone alive, all these methods are from the gothic horror novels written by Poe. And this obsessed serial killer is using them for his perverse pleasure - as some sort of a tribute to his favourite author. Think of it as a similar version of that lady from "Misery" but with more resources to "honour" his beloved writer.
Poe is presented to us as a washed up, drunk, has-been author. He hardly has any money left, his words don't inspire crowds anymore, and his name is close to worthless. The only person keeping him going in fact is his wealthy girlfriend Emily (Alice Eve), whose father (Brendan Gleeson) of course does not approve of her hanging around with a boozy, quite frankly embarrassing nobody. Meanwhile in other more sinister parts of Baltimore, there is that psychopath setting up extravagant crime scenes and always remaining one step ahead of Detective Fields (Luke Evans). It's lucky that Fields is a well-read individual, because recognising a similar theme in the different ways his victims were tortured and eventually killed, he contacts the initially unwilling and sceptical Poe, who insists his words are no more than a work of fiction and dismisses the detective's theory. But as one revelation after another prove that these eerie connections are more relevant than they seem, it's up to Poe to help the law enforcement officers, by working around the mind of the killer.
Sounds complex and slick, but in reality, "The Raven" is not much better than a standard crime thriller. It benefits hugely from a captivating lead actor as well as its bleak period designs but the main plot and execution themselves remain as bland as ever. One grizzly crime is committed, the killer makes a brilliant, clever escape, but when Poe joins in, the good guys get closer and closer to catching the bad guy. The murders themselves are convincingly set up, although perhaps with a less than satisfactory body count. There is of course the infamous pendulum, borrowing from one of Poe's most celebrated short stores "The Pit and the Pendulum," in which the victim is, as you can of course imagine, slowly hacked away with CGI blood splattering our screen. It's done with cheap effects for cheap scares and laughs, but it works, it absolutely works.
Solving the crime itself has some excitements here and there but without many of the smart surprises you may expect from a crime thriller. There really is bare minimum in the complexity of the twists and turns. It strips down to an overlong episode of a bog-standard crime procedural we are all too used to. The suspect list is too short to ever make this whodunit a real mind-boggler, and although the quick pace does speed everything up, where it leads the audience to, a highly unsatisfactory ending in which the villain is revealed to be an infuriatingly mediocre character. There is of course the much-needed stand-off between the protagonist and the villain who also incidentally manages to kidnap Poe's fiancée to keep the author involved in the search to catch this killer, and this face-off is a poorly constructed one, in which the scene shows nothing more except for the fact that we really do have a low quality villain in our midst.
Despite its shortfalls what keeps the narrative going is the utterly brilliant Cusack. He has bursts of eccentricity as well as drunken outbursts both of which add some intermittent humour to the otherwise unoriginal script full of tiresome, overused ideas. It is in fact with Cusack's varied performance at the core of the film that its events can more forward. He handles wordy monologues competently without any awkward difficulties. Evans is appropriately tense and desperate as the lead detective on the case, and Eve is beautiful and charming enough to make us believe that she is able to steal the heart of the undeniably twisted Poe. It's unclear just what she sees in the man, but she is completely into him and who's to question true love? Gleeson has never had trouble appearing as a grumpy old man, and even with a relatively smallish role, the always reliable Irish actor is a firm plus to the cast.
The overall period mood is haunting and gothic enough, but never quite to the spine-tingling creepy standard of Poe's original writings. There is plenty of blood, lots of dark corners full of shady figures, but it never feels complete. Perhaps it's due to the fact the camera is always in a rush and never stays long enough to linger. McTeigue has a less intelligent script to play with this time, compared to his much wittier, satirical "V for Vendetta." It is difficult to pin-point just what "The Raven" sets out to achieve. It's a mixed bag of genres, with an even more varied range of hits and misses. Is it a horror film? Is it a crime-solving thriller? A deep character study on Poe? It's unclear, but the persistent plus the film presents is Cusack who is reason enough to stick with this rather short feature. It's entertaining for sure, thanks also to its compact and quick-paced narrative, but to base the whole film around such a famous figure in the history of literature seems to have gone to waste. The only thing tying him to the film itself is the various murders and the gritty 1840s ambiance. For simplicity and shallow experience, this may just float your boat, but just don't expect too much or substantial going in.
About the film
The Raven is a 2012 thriller film that is a fictionalised account of Edgar Allan Poe's last days. The film is rated 15 due to bloody violence and scenes of a disturbing nature. The Raven's run time is 111 minutes. The trailer for the film was released online on 7th October of last year (2011) which is the anniversary of Poe's death.
When a mother and daughter are found brutally murdered in 19th century Baltimore, Detective Emmett Fields (Luke Evans) makes a startling discovery: the crime resembles a fictional murder described in gory detail in the local newspaper--part of a collection of stories penned by struggling writer and social pariah Edgar Allan Poe. But even as Poe is questioned by police, another grisly murder occurs, also inspired by a popular Poe story. Realizing a serial killer is on the loose using Poe's writings as the backdrop for his bloody rampage; Fields enlists the author's help in stopping the attacks. But when it appears someone close to Poe may become the murderer's next victim, the stakes become even higher and the inventor of modern detective story calls on his own powers of deduction to try to solve the case before it is too late.
John Cusack as Edgar Allan Poe
Alice Eve as Emily Hamilton
Oliver Jackson-Cohen as PC Cantrell
Luke Evans as Inspector Emmett Fields
Brendan Gleeson as Colonel Hamilton
Kevin McNally as Reynolds
Sam Hazeldine as Ivan
Pam Ferris as Mrs. Bradley
Brendan Coyle as Reagan
M. Emmet Walsh as Geselbracht
What I thought
My best friend and flatmate love going to the cinema so when she told me about this film, I jumped at the chance to go and see it. I love anything gothic and dark and BOGOF tickets at the cinema helped as well!
When it comes to Poe's work, I know very little about it although this film has made me want to know more. With a title like The Raven, I figured that this film was going to be mostly about that poem but no, it featured many of Poe's works and only really mentions The Raven in passing. Obviously, this was quite disappointing and I don't think the film really deserves its title. The film is actually about a killer who bases his killings on the works on Poe. Even with this being the plot, none of his stories are shown or spoken about in much depth so you never really get to learn much about them. While some murders are shown in great detail, some are barely seen at all so because of this, you also don't get to fully appreciate the nature of Poe's work.
As I said at the beginning of this review, The Raven is a thriller film. The murders and gore are definitely not high up the scale enough to make this a horror film but it is barely a thriller either. In my opinion, I would say it is more of a mystery with some added gore. Poe's stories are supposed to be extremely gory and shocking but there is only really one murder where this is shown well and explicitly. I wanted more gore and more killing. I also think that by doing this, it would have given much more importance to Poe's stories and why they were being used instead of it just being a simple reason.
John Cusack seemed like a pretty strange choice to play Poe for me and after looking into the film a bit more, it seems he wasn't the first choice. I'm not quite sure about the others who were up for this role either so Cusack is pretty much the best of a strange bunch for me. While Cusack pulls of a moody and melancholic mood well, his characterisation is pathetic. There are only a couple of brief moments in the film where I truly felt sorry for Poe but for the rest of the time, I didn't care too much about what happened to him. From the beginning, Poe is shown as an annoying drunk who is full of himself - not the most likeable traits I'm sure you'll agree. The point is, you never get to learn enough about Poe as a person or his life to be able to understand his feelings or actions.
Playing Poe's love interest Emily is Alice Eve who I have never heard of before. As a British actress, I thought that she did a very decent job of having an American accent in this film but that was about the only good thing about her. As a character, Emily is very much the damsel in distress for the most part although she does show signs of strength for a couple of brief moments. Overall though, her acting was terrible. There were moments where I would have actually loved to have been able to slap her or punch her in the face and to tell her to get a grip because she was that annoying. More than her acting being bad though is the way that she delivered her lines. Generally, she sounded extremely annoying the whole time so it was very hard for me to like her at all.
The character and actor who surprised me the most was Luke Evans who plays Inspector Emmett Fields. Coming on to the scene to help solve the mystery of the murders, it was clear that Fields should have been the hero of the film. Letting him down though is lack of screen time and a weak script. While he pulls off his lines well, he doesn't get nearly enough of them. Also, there isn't much screen time given to Fields so that we can see him trying to solve the mystery of the murders. The whole point of this film is to figure out who is killing people by using Poe's work as inspiration but there isn't much detective work to be seen. More than this, we get to see a slow friendship of sorts building between Fields and Poe. Frankly, I couldn't care less whether they hated each other or not. I cared about the mystery being solved which was sadly given a back seat.
The Raven was a very mixed bag for me. While I liked it, there were things that could have been done so much better and things that I thought were utterly pointless and stupid. An ok film but I won't be buying it on DVD.
In this gritty thriller, Edgar Allan Poe (John Cusack, Being John Malkovich) joins forces with a young Baltimore detective (Luke Evans, Immortals) to hunt down a mad serial killer who's using Poe's own works as the basis in a string of brutal murders. Directed by James McTeigue (V for Vendetta, Ninja Assassin), the film also stars Alice Eve (Sex and the City 2), Brendan Gleeson (In Bruges) and Oliver Jackson-Cohen (Faster).