The Raven. John Cusack stars as Edgar Allan Poe, acclaimed early-American poet and novelist. When the movie begins, Poe is already published and towards the end of his career. A bizarre series of murders start cropping up, each one inspired by one of Poe’s works. The Baltimore police bring in Poe to help with the investigation.
There’s also a love story but this is by far the weakest part of this movie. Alice Eve stars as Poe’s love interest Emily. This is a weird dynamic. Poe is a very morbid and kind of creepy character, so why would this rich socialite want anything to do with him? Their interactions lack chemistry and this makes the latter half of the movie unbelievable, as there’s really no bond between the two of them for us to focus on.
I’m hesitant about what I thought of Cusack’s performance. Maybe he was great, but Poe was such an awkward person that Cusack pulled it off. Fellow movie blog Movie Curiosities compared Cusack’s Poe to Robert Downey Jr’s Sherlock Holmes. I think Downey pulled it off better, managing to walk the line between isolated alcoholic eccentric and charming womanizer. Cusack just stays in this weird awkward place and so it’s unbelievable with the gorgeous blond woos over him.
This movie’s dark. Maybe I wasn’t expecting that. There are a few very Sawesque murder sequences that had me looking away from the screen. I thought these were actually well done, as they gave you a sense of urgency and real threat. A warning though, this isn’t a child-friendly film.
What doesn’t work?
Again, Poe is just awkward and eccentric and it’s a drastic leap for us to relate to him. As the hero, he should have some redeeming qualities and I found very little. He was abrasive, confrontational, and entitled. I didn’t care about him, as his life was on the line.
I also wish that the film were… brighter. Movies set in this period seem to show the world in a black and white palette with maybe some gold. My eyes got bored watching this movie, as everything was dark and dreary and unengaging. I had similar problems with Sherlock Holmes. Let us see some color!
This was a decent mystery. I don’t know enough about Poe to know how realistic this could be or to appreciate the intricacies of the murders and how they related to his stories. Aside from the occasional title, I was generally unsure of how Poe’s stories affected the murders.
Is this a good movie? It’s okay. You won’t miss anything by waiting to rent this one. Though it’d be a good bet for a rainy afternoon but don’t waste your money at the theaters.