Review: The Raven (2012)

What an utter disappointment! I know, I know, I said quoting Annabel Lee, The Raven and even Dream Within a Dream would save this movie for me no matter what. Alas, it would appear I was mistaken.

Yes, the man was a drunk and a drug addict, but he had a brilliant mind and wrote exceptional poems and stories alike – too bad they didn’t acknowledge that while he was still alive, huh? With that in mind, this movie could’ve been absolutely fantastic, in the hands of a good director. I can safely say James McTeigue did not qualify.

First of all, we’ve seen these kinds of movies times and times again. Crazy serial killer who likes to taunt his “victim” by killing people close to him or something along those lines. A chase ensues. Usually the movie ends on a happy note. It depends on your definition of a happy ending – everybody knows Poe dies – but The Raven follows that exact recipe.

The mystery of the killer’s identity and the satisfaction of trying to guess it and solve the puzzles is muddled by the somewhat obscure references, for a person not familiar with Poe’s works.

The reveal of said killer is also highly anticlimactic. Think..Hercule Poirot, end of an episode style: calm discussion with the killer.

So much time wasted on scenes that weren’t that important, on scenes that provided nothing for the progress of the movie and then practically rushing over scenes that did. I would’ve preferred more time spent on explaining some of the references and how they help solve the mystery, instead of watching the indeed lovely miss Alice Eve try to claw her way out of a coffin.

Although I absolutely loved the screenwriters for some of the lines they wrote for Cusack, a truly beautiful use of the english language, I also blame them for writing his character as they did.  As such, we have Cusack shouting pretty much 80% of the time.

I’ve read some reviews that stated John Cusack wasn’t the man to play Poe and even though it pains me to say so, I agree. Don’t get me wrong, I think he’s a bloody good actor and if you don’t believe me, go ahead and watch High Fidelity and Being John Malkovich. I know, I’ve mentioned High Fidelity before, but I really think I could watch it again and again, on repeat, and never get bored with it, he’s that good!  I also think that he did a good job as much as the role permitted him to do.

But I have to agree that, say,  Robert Downey Jr. would’ve been a better choice to play Poe; to play Poe as those pesky screenwriters wrote him, anyway. Downey Jr. has this..craziness and volatility about him that would have proven useful for a character that has fits of shouting.

Another issue I had with the movie was the inconsistency surrounding his poem, Annabel Lee. They suggest he wrote it for Emily Hamilton, his bride to be in the movie. However Hamilton is an entirely fictional character. Later in the movie, Poe mentions his ex-wife, who died of tuberculosis. Her name was Virgina and she, indeed, was real and one of many theories says that Annabel Lee was wrote for and having her in mind.

Apart from the gruesome murders, there is a moment, close to the end, where they tried – and failed – for a philosophic point of view.

Ugh, just ugh! I wanted to like this movie so, so bad. I’ll have to be content with enjoying the soundtrack and the movie, if only from a visual POV. Oh, and the poems.

Speaking of the visuals, it truly was beautiful. The darkness and bleakness of it; while using fog machines and keeping the characters pretty much all the time in the dark is a cliché, it’s one that worked just fine. The costumes for the ball were amazing aswell.

I don’t know, maybe it’s all the reasons I already stated, maybe this just didn’t scream “Edgar Allan Poe” to me (not that I know what he was like, but guessing), but for me The Raven was a hit and miss.

LATER EDIT:

I just remembered this, but..what in God’s name has The Raven have to do with anything and everything that happens in this movie? Random ravens flying around apart.

LATER EDIT No2:

How much do you want to bet that if you looked up ‘mystery’, ‘death’ and ‘Edgar Allan Poe’ on google right now, you’ll probably find websites and forums stating that Poe was out fighting crime in those 4 notoriously mysterious days before his death?

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2 thoughts on “Review: The Raven (2012)

  1. Ohhh dear. Unfortunately this confirms all the worries/concerns I had about this film. I loved the premise but the trailer got me a bit worried. I wouldn’t have been able to recognise the references to his work, because the only thing of his I’ve read of his is The Raven. (although I want to read more) Also your second edit was exacty what I was worried about when I first heard about the film! Haha.

    I’m sorry you were disappointed, looks like I will have to lower my expectations of this film too. :/

  2. Yeah, I’m very passionate about movies I like or at least movies I want to like so that’s were my two later edits came from hehe.
    About the references..I’m familiar with his work, I’ve read both his poems and stories, but definitely not all of them so even though they say what story a certain clue references, if you don’t know it, well.
    In my opinion, a good mystery film is supposed to make you try figure out the puzzle. In this case, you can’t, unless you’re some sort of Poe expert or hardcore fan and trust me when I say, even if you did..it doesn’t matter in regards to who the killer is.
    So yes, lower the expectations, enjoy it for what it is and what-not. 🙂

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