on 2 August 2012
The director of V for Vendetta returns to direct yet another gothic horror tale, this time round based on the mysterious life of the american horror writer Edgar Allen Poe. The story follows a series of grizzly crimes carried out by a serial killer adapting them from the stories of Poe. But when Poe's love is taken he must work with the police and solve a series of cryptic clues in order to save her. At first glance the story is intriguing, but it never reaches its full potential. Its decidedly straight forward and is never twisty or shocking enough to be truly gripping. The script is also somewhat poorly written, the dialogue seems clunky and inconsistent and at times too modern for its setting.
However, John Cusack is a great Poe, looking both haunted and eccentric and delivering a decent performance considering the script he's been saddled with. Other cast members are less memorable, Brendan Gleeson and Luke Evans are given decent parts but again the dialogue is never polished enough. Alice Eve delivers a good performance as Poe's love but isn't given very much to do.
As for the direction, it is effective, there are some well staged set pieces, both disturbing and fast paced but its not sweeping and subtle enough. The period setting could have been used to greater effect to achieve a more gritty, realistic atmosphere, but is instead a bit too polished and hollywood to achieve the gothic, spooky setting this film needed. The soundtrack, too, is not effectively scary or jumpy enough and does nothing to heighten the tense occasions dotted sporadically throughout the film.
Overall, the Raven needed a whole new script, a grittier atmosphere and more twists in the story. That said it is an entertaining way to spend a couple of hours and won't require much effort to follow and the performance by Cusack is great. I'd say wait until it is cheaper. Another drawback to this dvd is the complete lack of special features, not so much as a blooper reel or deleted scene in sight.
on 22 August 2012
Cusack is a pleasant actor to watch, seems natural with a hint that he might be about to perform a Vincent Price wink to camera.
However, though this Poe is acceptably modernised in performance, there is a persistent name-dropping of key people from Poe's real history blended less than seamlessly with a graphic-novel stylised version of Poe'ness; there seems to be a distinct lack of the true gothic to the whole atmosphere. Fog & a thinned out forest of thin trees does not make for gothicism. And the blood was hardly super-abundant, indeed, dwelling on death as a motif or telling theme seems to gone by the way-side, becoming background shade.
The overall effect was similar to a blend of From Hell and one of the Conan Doyle based tales that was under the monicker of Dark Beginnings of Sherlock Holmes, it had that 'lets hunt a serial killer in period costume' feel. There was more a sense of Gaston Leroux to the proceedings too, which could have again made it more gothic in the crime arena. But it did not. Perhaps it was a little over-polished.
Clean, clinical with a fine series of performances. Lacking emotional details, or a sense of overt passion, perhaps there was an attempt to avoid the camp or gothic hysteria which could have made it less money but more rewarding. It will probably grow on people, benefit from further watching, but i fear the clinician that made it is driven to a youthful bent, that has limited the sense of pervading dread and sheer gravity of age, that Poe encapsulated & felt. I could have done with a few trappings or cliches just to add a little pepper, say a cobweb or a stage-hand peeling what might be a grape...
The Raven is directed by James McTeigue and written by Ben Livingston and Hannah Shakespeare. It stars John Cusack, Luke Evans, Alice Eve and Brendan Gleeson. Music is by Lucas Vidal and cinematography by Danny Ruhlmann.
"On October 7, 1849, Edgar Allan Poe was found, near death, on a park bench in Baltimore, Maryland. The last days of his life remain a mystery"
It's a real smart idea that the makers have here, putting their own theory forward on what happened in the lead up to Poe's death. Essentially a period whodunit procedural as Poe (Cusack) and Inspector Emmett Fields (Evans) race against time to find the person who is killing in the style of Poe's literary works. Poe's love interest, Emily Hamilton (Eve), is in grave danger, so as to add extra peril and suspense into the clock ticking drama.
It's a safe piece of entertainment, one that acquaints the uninitiated with Poe's work and his life struggles away from the writing bureau. The detective angle is fun and the murders grizzly and appropriately Gothic in execution. Unfortunately it rarely convinces as a period piece. The dialogue is often out of sync with the era, Eve is miscast, the score is inappropriate and it always feels like actors playing at period rompery.
It's a shame that it is bogged down by such irritants because Teague's direction is stylish, while the art design deserves a round of applause. Cusack is fun to watch, but more at ease playing Sherlock in the second half of the piece than a tortured soul in the first, and Evans is confident in the straight backed gentleman detective stakes. There's a good time to be had here on a surface whodunit follow the clues experience, and Poe fans will delight at catching the many references to his life and spiky works, but it unfortunately misses the mark in too many key areas. 6/10
on 3 August 2012
I had spent the best part of a year being excited about this movie coming out, being both a fan of Poe and Cusack, and when the critics started panning it I went with a bit of a heavy heart. I needn't have - as far as I can tell the critics may as well have been watching another movie entirely!
This is an absolutely fabulous film, with just the right amounts of gore, goth, mystery and entertainment. John Cusack gives what I think is one of his best ever performances (watch "Max" for his absolute best), playing a wonderful and understated Poe, and at one point reciting a quite breathtaking rendition of the title poem. Luke Evans is also superb in his role as the detective.
Those who are looking for a Poe biopic, that is something this film was never meant to be. It's a wonderful fictional account of the last days of Poe's life, with plenty of truths, actual speculations and nods to Poe's works thrown in.
I was thoroughly gripped throughout the whole film, and while there maybe could have been a little more suspense and excitement in the unveiling of the killer, there is very, VERY little to disappoint in this film. I waited with as much eager anticipation for the blu-ray release as I did the cinema release and will certainly be watching this again and again. Even my other half, who was dragged along to watch this with me (and who usually hates period films, is not particularly a fan of Cusack and has never read Poe in his life) was hooked and genuinely enjoyed it!
Definitely a must-watch.
This is set in Baltimore in 1849,in the last days of Edgar Allan Poe's life. He was allegedly muttering "Reynolds" repeatedly, seemingly an ill man (as he died soon after!). The exact relevance of this is unknown. The director of the film (James McTeigue) and the production team have come up with the idea of describing some elements of Poe's real life escapades with a fictional account of his writings combined with detective work. The combination is somewhat ingenious taken with a large slice of poetic and directorial liberty. A mad man is on the loose. A mother and daughter have been brutally murdered in a locked room with nailed down windows.
Astute detective Emmett Fields (Luke Evans) finds the crime resembles that of a bloodthirsty tale in the local newspaper, written by a struggling persona non grata, Edgar Allan Poe (John Cusack), who spends most of his time drinking, womanising, especially with Emily Hamilton (Alice Eve), and scrambling to make ends meet. Poe is inevitably questioned by the police whilst at the same time the killer strikes again with another murder based on a newspaper Poe story. Realising a 'serial killer' (a term not used at that time) is on the prowl, Fields enrolls Poe's help to trap the murderer, especially when the next victim may be known to the author, before it is too late. In these situations it is inevitable that the viewer is thrown off track as to the identity of the perpetrator of the murders. Just so here.
John Cusack is excellent in the lead and portrays Poe in an elementary manner with conviction as does the direction concerning what is genuinely known of Poe's last few days (excluding the fiction). He looks and acts the part. Likewise Luke Evans's performance is assured. The period atmosphere is well captured including scene-setting and costumes. Excellent supporting cast also include Brendan Gleeson and Oliver Jackson Cohen. An overall entertaining film despite some flaws. Great fun.
A modern spin on the Vincent Price-Roger Corman Poe films of the Sixties, 2012's The Raven is far from the turkey critics made it out to be but would have been more impressive had it been directed by someone with a bit more panache than James McTeigue can summon and with a better cinematographer than Danny Ruhlman, who renders much of a film that often relies on darkness and shadows for atmosphere into a flat desaturated greyish fog devoid of essential details. It's certainly the kind of pulp premise that should have made for something much better, reimagining the last few days of Edgar Allen Poe's life as a race to find a serial killer who is recreating his most grisly killings and leaving him a trail of clues to the location of his fiancé before her premature burial becomes permanent. But although CGi allows filmmakers to show exactly what happens in pits with pendulums, there's not much grandeur to the guignol in display here, while the early literary gamesmanship never fulfils its early promise despite being occasionally effectively underpinned by Poe's fatalism and depression and the notion of the killer as muse for the burned out author. The 110-minute running time also allows the film to drag in the home stretch when it should be picking up momentum en route to its finale influenced as much by Georges Sluizer's The Vanishing as Poe, while the film's postscript just feels like something clumsily tacked on as an afterthought after poor previews.
After too many performances on autopilot, John Cusack actually seems more engaged with his role than usual and keeps his usual tricks and mannerisms in check for much of the time, though as his fiancé it's often hard to tell when Alice Eve is conscious or unconscious while Luke Evans puts on his best movie star face in a one-note performance that's adequate without doing much to elevate his scenes. Which pretty much sums up the movie, which remains unexceptionally watchable without ever demonstrating the kind of flourish and occasional theatricality the material really demands, leaving you feeling that the Roger Corman of old could have made so much more of its killer premise and offered audiences a lot more fun doing it.
It's not a particularly good-looking film, and the 2.40:1 widescreen transfer reflects that. The UK Blu-ray release comes up very short on extras - just a director's and producers' commentary and 6 deleted scenes - though the US release offers those and a plethora of featurettes (The Raven Guts - Bringing Death to Life, The Madness, Misery and Mystery of Edgar Allen Poe, Behind the Beauty and Horror, The Raven Presents John Cusack and James McTeigue and Music for The Raven - The Team) as well as the trailer, but is Region A-locked.
It starts out innocent enough. A reinterpretation of King Arthur and the Roman empire. Some more histories based on one iota of fact. Then we get a retelling of Robin Hood and stories of the Middle Ages, Shakespeare, and the next thing you know Abe Lincoln is killing vampires and zombies. Now Poe. It seems as the liberties with history has become progressively worse.
This is a fictional story using the real character of Poe, his works, that fact he lived in Baltimore and not much more. The writers of the script wanting to ward off such criticisms have Poe ask, "Is imagination a felony?" Poe teams up with Detective Fields (Luke Evans) and Captain Hamilton (Brendan Gleeson) to find Emily (Alice Eve) who is being held by a man who is killing people in the manner of Poe's tales.
There were a number of things that I didn't like in this blockbuster, first being Cusack's portrayal of Poe himself. It wasn't convincing for me. The opening scene of a full moon, a raven, and a woman screaming was a little too cliche. I felt insulted that the writer thought he could get away with such a shallow script. This is not a good horror story, not a good slasher film, not a good pseudo history, not a good mystery, and not a good love story. It does have a certain amount of appeal to it, but nor worth to go run out and see.
Poe fans do not need to feel they have to rush out and watch this film. The film doesn't really catch his genius and madness.
Parental guide: one F-bomb, no sex, no nudity, some Alice Eve cleavage. No music by the Alan Parson's Project.
on 15 July 2014
I thought that this movie was great! It was fast paced and in my opinion, has the viewer guessing every other minute as to who could be guilty of all the murders. John Cusack was great, as was the rest of the cast. I loved that the movie puts it's own spin into the events that could have possibly led up to the death of Poe. If you are a fan of thrillers- give it a go! However, if you are expecting a horror movie- it isn't! There's plenty of blood and gore but it ends there! I was definitely pleasantly surprised as I didn't think it was going to be as good as it was in the end!
on 21 November 2012
I hope that when I die that I am quickly forgotten by most, but remembered by a chosen few. It appears that if you die famous your ghost is anyone's to play with. `Raven' is the latest film to take a real person from history and distort their life. Like `Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter', this film does not set out to harm its heroes reputation, just steal from it. Whilst `Lincoln' was a boring mess of a film, `Raven' is just as messy, but a whole lot more fun. Edgar Allen Poe investigates a serial killer just before his own death.
John Cusack plays Poe and it is one of his better roles in recent years. He has a tendency to look asleep whilst acting, but here he is forced to rail and shout, giving himself and the film much needed gumption. The film itself is a `Seven' style thriller where a killer is using Poe's stories as inspiration for a series of grisly murders. Poe is first suspect, then ally, to Detective Fields (Luke Evans), a man above his head. The narrative rattles along nicely and is daft enough to be fun. It is also interspersed with some quite grisly death scenes that are kooky enough not to scare, but do titillate.
Director James McTeigue proved with `V for Vendetta' that he is adept at genre work and that is certainly the case with the `Raven'. The film is shot to look very dark and McTeigue is able to paper over some of the budget restrictions the film had with decent direction. With adequate production and an interesting narrative, `Raven' is a surprisingly enjoyable film. It is certainly pretty daft at times and undoubtedly one of the more outlandish works of fiction to star a real person, but being fun is enough to make the film worthwhile.
There is a making of available on the BluRay version of the disc as well as an interview with the laconic Cusack. As the HD version has a lot more extras than the DVD and looks better, it is the format to get of this film.
on 29 June 2013
This has got to be the best movie i've seen cince watching From Hell with Johnny Depp that has mixed mystery with a spookiness feeling about it, that made it very close to Edgar Allen Poe's psychological mind that made him onw of the few all tine writers, even if he was a bit crazy, the movie, like From Hell makes it a must buy and a must see for anybody who has read The Raven, a fan or Edgar Allen Poe or even a fan of John Cusack, had waited a good while to see it before I got, very glad I did, watch it, very well written and made