The Raven

“Quoth the raven…” Come on, you know you want to…

I am a HUGE fan of Edgar Allan Poe and I am also a HUGE fan of John Cusack, but I’d never thought I’d see the day when one of my favorite actors would portray one of my favorite historical, literary figures.  I’ll get to how well I was able to stomach that in a minute… but first: “The Raven” is the fictional story about a series of gruesome murders that are inspired by the very stories and characters that Poe himself had created.  At first Poe is considered a suspect, but then dismissed by the young and brilliant Detective Fields (played by Luke Evans,) Poe is immediately lassoed in as a pseudo expert witness in helping identify the killer who constantly mocks the police and Poe himself leaving behind clues to his identity.  When Poe’s beautiful fiancé, Emily is kidnapped and held captive, the drama and suspense is taken to another level when Poe’s patience and very sanity are taken to its limits as he desperately tries to identify the killer in order to find Emily.  Although a fictional story, many of the aspects and characteristics of Poe’s life were kept quite accurate.  He was a shameless alcoholic who never made a good living from his stories (mostly due to his inability to copyright them.)  His true genius was never appreciated till years after his death in 1849.

John Cusack playing Edgar Allan Poe was portrayed as good as can be expected based on the quality of the dialogue and the script in general.
There were aspects of the script where it was just Cusack reciting and quoting much of Poe’s work but I felt that more could have been done to make the character better, but I still feel that is was due to the limited and constricting script, not the actor’s performance itself.  The script did have instances of extreme jumps in character developments without smooth transitions or enough time to pass.  An example was in the first act of the film when Poe is brought into the police station to be interrogated by Detective Fields as a suspect of the first murder, and in the immediate next scene when Detective Fields is called to investigate a second grisly murder, he lets Poe tag along and then immediately asks him to assist the Baltimore police in identifying the killer… where Poe then shrugs his shoulders and accepts.

Directed by James McTeigue (“V for Vendetta”) “The Raven” is a dark visual spectacle that uses violence to help the progression of the film at certain times and during others it will be disturbing for the sake of disturbing.  This was a movie where the setting helped more than it probably was supposed to and a cast that had its moments of actors over-acting, “The Raven” is a good murder mystery movie but lacks its full potential and fails to live up to the high expectations that I had going in.  I was impressed when I didn’t think I would be, but I wasn’t impressed when I thought I should have been.

“Quoth the raven…Nevermore.”

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