Director: James McTeigue
Screenplay: Ben Livingston and Hannah Shakespeare
Original Music: Lucas Vidal
Cinematography: Danny Ruhlmann
Film Editing: Niven Howie
Edgar Allan Poe John Cusack
Detective Fields Luke Evans
Emily Hamilton Alice Eve
Captain Hamilton Brendan Gleeson
Maddux Kevin McNally
John Cantrell Oliver Jackson-Cohen
Captain Eldridge Jimmy Yuill
On this blog I truly love talking about the old movies and I have reviewed very few recent films. Today I went to see “The Raven” which just opened in theaters. As a horror fan, a John Cusack fan, and a Poe fan, I was looking forward to “The Raven”. Now I can’t stop going over it in my mind, so I may as well sit down and go over it here. If a movie sticks in my mind, it is usually because a) I enjoyed it very much, or b) I hated it. I can’t honestly say either in this case.
|John Cusack as Edgar Allan Poe|
|Luke Evans as Inspector Fields|
|Luke Evans and John Cusack|
|(L to R) Jimmy Yuill, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, John Cusack, Luke Evans|
The biggest problem here is the script. It’s dull. I can’t even give you examples of any lines because I can't remember any. As for the characters, none are developed to any degree and most of the victims are unimportant so why should we care? I admit that I did not spot the murderer (I usually don’t) but most seasoned movie watchers probably won’t have a lot of difficulty. One of the disappointments for me is that the killer is not really very interesting, either for himself or why he is doing all this.
But the actors seem to be doing their best with what they were given. Brendan Gleeson is excellent as the gruff father of Poe’s beloved. He is the actor I was watching in each scene he was in. John Cusack is an actor I enjoy. He is capable of bringing to life honest characters in either drama or comedy. But he just doesn’t quite make me believe in him here as Poe. Cusack brings his usual energy and passion to the role, but most of the time I just thought, hey it’s John Cusack wearing a mustache and beard. At 45 years old, Cusack looks younger than his years. Edgar Allan Poe was 5 years younger than that when he died, but after a lifetime of tragedy and dissipation, contemporary photographs show him looking much older than his 40 years.
|Brendan Gleeson (left), and Luke Evans|
The one clever idea in this film is that the murders are based on Poe’s work. His stories, masterfully horrific and original, are also beautifully written poetry. But the movie wastes them to make a routine slasher/horror/whodunit. They really deserve better than this. For me, this movie doesn’t work because it lacks any semblance of his poetry or his soul
Someday perhaps someone will make a clever and thoughtful story around the life of Poe. It could even be a murder mystery. Much of his life is a mystery, particularly his death. This film attempts to provide an explanation of the particulars around his last days, but it just doesn’t wash. At the end of the film we see Poe sitting in the fog, alone and forgotten. In reality he did die alone and forgotten after being found incoherent on a Baltimore street, and he did mention the same name with his dying words as in the movie. But the solution to the mystery as presented here? No sale.
I’m going to resist the temptation to end this with any quote using the word ‘nevermore’. I won’t be that trite. I went to his poetry and found this, the first few lines of the poem, The Spirits of the Dead. I think they are appropriate for thinking about, not this movie, but about Edgar Allan Poe. The real Poe.
Thy soul shall find itself alone‘Mid dark thoughts of the gray tombstoneNot one, of all the crowd, to pryInto thine hour of secrecy.
Have a comment about this post? Please, be my guest. Indulge yourself below. I would love to hear from you. Thanks!
Despite a handful of narrative missteps and a few errant accents, it's actually a pretty neat "what if?" story. Although I can definitely see it's not for everyone to sit and enjoy. Cusack was also pretty good and definitely lifted up this material. Nice review Joyce.ReplyDelete
Thank you Dan! I agree, it is a very interesting "what if" concept. I've never been disappointed in Cusack before, but I really feel it was the script that let him down this time. I'll stick with him! Thanks again for the comment!ReplyDelete
First of all, congrats for you wonderful review not only commenting on the movie ( which I'm still deciding whether I'll watch or not )but also on Poe's life.
I'm a brazilian english teacher and in June I'll be working on a reading and speaking project with my students. I decided that this month's theme would be Edgar Allan Poe. My advanced students will be working with the "Black Cat" short story, my basic students will be working with a short biography of his and I wanted to work with a review of the movie "The Raven"( which has launched this week around here )with my Intermediate students. I have searched for a good and no so complicated text for them. Not only because of these aspects but as well because of others, I liked very much your review. Would you mind if I use your text - denoting you as the author and the blog as the source - in this project?
Thank you very much!
Thank you so much for the kind words and for your request. I would be honored if you used my review in your class.
What a wonderful idea to study Edgar Allan Poe in a language class! His use of words could be simple and direct, or subtle and more complex. I feel his poems and stories always have a delicacy, which may seem odd if you consider the subject matter.
Thanks again, I'm very flattered! Good luck with your classes, and greetings from Chicago!