THE RAVEN (2012)
Director: James McTeigue
Writers: Hannah Shakespeare, Ben Livingston
Stars: John Cusack, Alice Eve, Luke Evans
A bunch of murders happen and John Cusack tries to play Edgar Allan Poe, who is the inspiration behind said murders. A chase is afoot!
I’ve unfortunately been spoiled in the past with very talented portrayals of Edgar Allan Poe, which hurt my appreciation of this movie. If anyone has ever seen Stuart Gordon’s The Black Cat, starring Jeffrey Combs, you’ll sure know that he plays a compelling and balanced Poe, something Cusack struggles with. I was lucky enough to see a representation of An Evening With Poe, his theater monologue and I don’t believe that anyone will ever get as close to portraying this American poet and author.
Poe was a drunk, yes. And arrogant, too. The problem with Cusack’s performance is that he seems to be channeling his inner Hunter S. Thompson instead of the other, more famous writer. Mind you, I love both terribly; it just so happens that they’re not the same person. For all his faults, Poe was still a lot more gracious.
Of course, none of this really matters when the movie he’s portrayed in seems nothing more than a quick cash grab from the DaVinci Code thriller wave. It really feels that way, too; we’re going from one clue to the next, with adventure and chases everywhere with Poe in the lead, gun in hand. And like the DaVinci Code, the movie starts falling apart the moment one tries to imagine how the bad guy set everything up. For instance… SPOILER FOR THE REST OF THE PARAGRAPH… “Hopefully Poe will realize that the paper I signed under the newspaper is wet even though it was covered with the newspaper, so that he knows I’ve read the story before it was printed in the newspaper! Because if there’s one thing we have in the 19th Century, it’s extremely accurate weather that predicts precisely when it’s going to rain because I need Poe to know I put the paper there before the newspaper and I’m using the rain as the hint!” Stuff like that. It’s frustrating. I kept groaning every time they uncovered a new clue; there was no way any of those could have been successfully planned. It was all TV magic logic.
The action scenes are tacky and useless. Seriously useless. Pay attention to the ball, theater and cemetery scenes and tell me what point they had, except to pad the run time? Everything that happens in these scenes is either undone or forgotten later on. They could be cut and we wouldn’t lose anything. And the ending didn’t pay off. Obviously, those who know Poe, know how he ended. The movie tries to tie-in their story to Poe’s last days and it feels cheap. Terribly cheap.