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The Cinematic Katzenjammer: Nov 7: The Raven


Nov 7: The Raven

"When a madman begins committing horrific murders inspired by Edgar Allan Poe's works, a young Baltimore detective joins forces with Poe to stop him from making his stories a reality."
Directed by: James McTeigue, Rated: R, 110 minutes

The Raven takes itself way too seriously and turns into a laughable series of ridiculous events, as opposed to an effective thriller. It's a film that's completely unnecessary and attempts to create a world around a historical figure, with as much absurd fiction as possible. Turning Edgar Allan Poe into a Sherlock Holmes/National Treasure-esque detective may have sounded like a grand idea on paper, but the execution is so mundane and uninspired it turns into an insult of one of literature's greatest poets. Did I mention it's boring?

Nevermore. Nevermore. Please..?

In the mid-1800s, a serial killer is on the loose in Baltimore. Detective Fields (Luke Evans) comes to the conclusion that the series of murders is inspired by the work of Edgar Allan Poe (John Cusack). Assuming that a man who writes poems is a perfect assistant to a crime detective, Fields asks Poe for his help in solving the murders. Poe, reluctant at first, joins the cause after the love of his life, Emily (Alice Eve) is kidnapped by the killer, who then leaves a series of notes teasing the poet, dragging him along in a deadly game of cat and mouse. Fields and Poe run from crime scene to crime scene, never really saving anyone, but having discussions reminiscent of CSI: Miami, without David Caruso tearing sunglasses of his face.

If only The Raven's soundtrack consisted of The Who songs. 

I have to admit I was excited at the prospect of The Raven. Edgar Allan Poe is a historical figure that has been screaming for a biopic, and while the film is far from such things, it had the potential to be something awesome. Unfortunately  the film fails in nearly every aspect. Cusack has been bordering the career of Nicolas Cage, and The Raven looks to be his crossing over. He's erratic with an over-the-top performance, and pairing him up with the beautiful Alice Eve only shows his age. He's out of place in the role and while he's believable as the smart and short-tempered Poe, he takes the part too far and into the realm of "I don't give a damn about this man, or his life". I feel bad for Evans as well, as the man has the look and the talent to be a big star, but his career choices have been a one-way ticket to the toilet. The supporting cast is also very unimpressive and by the time you find out who the killer is, you really don't remember him from before. It takes a lot of the mystery out of the film because you really don't care what happens to anyone. Each victim is a "say hi and bye" character so once we see them splayed out and splattered, you're more surprised by the massive gore and not the actual deaths. In the end, The Raven really just turns into a ripoff of Saw set in the 1800s, and even then it's less interesting.

Never in my life did I think I'd miss Jigsaw. 

While I'm not an expert on Poe, I've always found the man interesting and his work exceptional. Unfortunately for The Raven, you don't need to be a pro-of-Poe to know how far off the events are and how unnecessary it all really is. The film is a boring mess that takes itself far too seriously and is in desperate need of a joke (JUST one!). Sure, Poe was a man constantly wrapped up in drama and despair, but Baltimore as a city has much more to offer than somber moment after somber moment. I can't really say that a lot could have been changed to make The Raven better, but a turn of focus to an actual life story of the poet would have been much more intriguing. Had the movie been more based in reality, I would have found myself much more pulled in than I am with the end-result. If you must check it out, you should be fully aware that this is not a good film. Personally, I'd suggest skipping it and watching director, James McTeigue's other films, V for Vendetta and the severely underrated Ninja Assassin. At least those are fun...

The Good:
the bit of ambition the film tends to show, but an over-eagerness that still drags it down
The Bad:
Edgar Allan Poe not getting the movie he deserves as The Raven insults his legacy and work
The Ugly:
John Cusack terrifying me that his career may be well past its prime and that any likability he has is slowly (but surely) dwindling

Overall: 4.4/10

Discussion Question:
What famous author do you want to see come to the screen? Be it a worthwhile biopic or a fictional re-telling of his/her life. 


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At November 7, 2012 at 11:22 PM , Blogger Bonjour Tristesse said...

I love Poe and The Raven, but this looked laughable from the first I laid eyes on it. Glad to see I wasn't wrong.

At November 7, 2012 at 11:31 PM , Blogger Nick said...

It is quite terrible, indeed.

At November 7, 2012 at 11:58 PM , OpenID daveexaminesmovies said...

"laughable series of ridiculous events" is that like Lemony Snickets Series of Unfortunate events?

At November 8, 2012 at 12:17 AM , Blogger Nick said...

Yes, but not as fun

At November 8, 2012 at 8:33 AM , Blogger Richard Kirkham said...

The film filled two hours of my life and left no impression at all. You got this one right.

At November 8, 2012 at 11:22 AM , Blogger Nick said...

It really is absolutely forgettable.

At November 8, 2012 at 12:20 PM , Blogger Sati. said...

Eh, such a bad movie. The ending was just horrible. But the worst part was Alice Eve - what a miscast.

At November 8, 2012 at 2:53 PM , Blogger Nick said...

Completely. I usually like her but she is so out of place. Not as attractive as usual too lol.


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