Cusack's "The Raven" Exciting Mystery Flick
Country: United States
Release Date: April 27, 2012
Distributor: Intrepid Pictures
· James McTeigue
· John Cusack
· Luke Evans
· Alice Eve
Movie Review: The Raven
by Dennis Russo
Published: April 29, 2012
I went to see "The Raven" with both an open mind and with expectations. An open mind because, while I am a fan of Poe, I am not overly familiar with all of his works or his life, and expectations in that I am familiar with some of his works and some of his life. I was anxious to see if this movie could appeal to both a movie goer where this might be their first real exposure to Edgar Allen Poe, and at the same time also to a die-hard Poe fan.
I have seen many of Poe's works made into movies over the years, most notably in my memory by England's Hammer Studios. This movie is different in that it is about Poe caught in a macabre mystery centering around his own macabre mysteries. Basically a movie "where all that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream."
"The Raven" stars John Cusack as Edgar Allen Poe who, being broke and having trouble getting new work published, is unknowingly and unwillingly brought into the center of this mystery because someone is killing people based on stories he had written. A very interesting concept to this movie is that all these events revolve around the real fact that shortly before Poe's death, he was found on a park bench in Baltimore muttering someones name, and supposedly all of the events in this movie lead up to that moment.
Cusack plays a very believable Edgar Allen Poe as the script depicts him, although I am not sure the real EAP(I will reference Edgar Allen Poe by these initials for the remainder of the review) was the type A, "adventure hero" as he's depicted here. Regardless, Cusack does a very good job in creating this persona where I could believe it for this movie.
I did find the murder scenes quite grisly, but what they did for me for the first time was show me just how gruesome those acts were, as I never conceptualized them when I read Poe's stores. I also found the use of sound effects very fulfilling of the dark, macabre aura the movie portrayed. What comes to mind is how something startling was revealed to a loud rolling clap of thunder in a storm raging outside, the lightning flash exposing the outline of the possible killer. Very well done and very reminiscent to me of the best of the Hammer movies. Also, there was a side view of Emily (Alice Eve) when she is trapped under the floor that was very reminiscent of Uma Thurman in "Kill Bill 2", more "low tech" in appearance but perfectly suited to the aura of the movie
In going back to my thoughts on how the movie would appeal to the different viewers, I found that the movie to me was successful. It referenced EAP stories that were both some of his most famous works as well as some of his lesser known, but instantly recognizable ones to his die hard fans.
The dialog during the movie was such that when clues of the mystery were being unveiled, when they referenced a particular EAP story, the writer worked it in so that the title was said. I also thought the storyline did a good job of telling the history of EAP without getting too drawn out. There was enough so that you knew why he was doing some of the things he was doing, and who some of the other characters in the story were, such as his love interest "Emily Hamilton" wonderfully portrayed by Alice Eve.
There were other fine acting performances in the movie. Most notably to me of the other major players were Luke Evans as "Detective Field" who, at the first meeting in the movie I thought of as the "bad cop" who wanted to prove EAP was the killer, and Brendan Gleeson as "Captain Hamilton" Emily's father.
The pace of the movie was never slow, and I enjoyed how the plot developed as the movie went on -- how EAP evolved from a suspect, to being asked to help solve the crimes, to then actually being the center of the mystery and the reason the crimes are being committed.
To me, "The Raven" succeeded in being a good mystery from start to end. While not the greatest mystery I have ever seen, it doesn't do anything wrong either. I don't mean that in a negative connotation. What I mean is, that while it doesn't do anything that would cause you to say "this is the best whatever I have ever seen in a movie" it doesn't do anything poorly either, something a lot of excellent movies can't lay claim to in my eyes.
"The Raven" is certainly a case where the sum of its parts, the good acting, good script, good story, and good effects, created a whole good movie.