- User Rating: Very Good
Bang For The Buck
Pros:Excellent mystery, horror movie and action film.
Cons:It is very gory, and the treatement of Poe as an action hero...stinks.
The Bottom Line: If you are a fan of the Guy Richie Sherlock Holmes movies, then this will probably appeal. If you are OCD about historical figures, this will drive you insane.
The Raven (2012) Directed by James McTeigue
You are referring to one of my stories. A work of fiction!—Edgar Allen Poe
The year is 1849, the city Baltimore. While noted poet Edgar Allen Poe (John Cusack) spirals toward dissolution and self destruction, someone has been using his works to stage a series of grisly murders; two women are found murdered in a locked room, one, stuffed up the chimney, as in The Murders in the Rue Morgue. A Mr. Griswold (John Warnaby), noted critic, finds himself in a gruesome reenactment of The Pit and The Pendulum, (and the movie spares no detail; it glories in its gore, slice by splattery slice). He has more in common with Mr. Poe than the manner of his death; they were rivals when alive, viciously rending each other’s work. One thing Poe truly was was unforgiving of the trite, the hackneyed, and the less than inspired.
Now, Detective Fields (Luke Evans) wants Poe’s help in capturing this madman. But worse, the madman insists Poe try to catch him, and to inspire him, he has kidnapped Poe’s lady love, Miss Emily Hamilton (Alice Eve). This may be the only thing that could conceivably bring her father, Captain Hamilton (Brendan Gleeson) and Poe together. Now the three men must outwit a mad man before Emily meets her premature, and one assumes, horrifying end.
The story mixes all the Poe elements; murder, mystery, gruesome and grisly death, and doomed love into one poignant mix. Whether or not I shall ever consider Poe to be an action hero remains to be seen, but Cusack does play him rather much the same way Robert Downey Jr. reinterpreted Sherlock Holmes. And it makes for a very entertaining movie. There is the right mix of intrigue, riddle solving, and action sequences to keep the audience engaged even in these days of instant gratification and universal Attention Deficit Disorder.
Stylistically, it is a Poe poem to a tee; dark, grim, foreboding, but still rich, opulent, with that veneer of civility, and the lingering hint of decay. The cinematography is brilliant, the world of 1849 Baltimore brought to life again, in…Serbia? Still, they capture the look, the feel, and the mood, and that is what counts.
Best of all, as a mystery, it plays fair with the viewer. You are given all the clues, and what you make of them is up to you. I did manage to figure it out, and it made me feel like a bleedin’ genius to be proven right.
I do think the character as written (not Mr. Cusack’s excellent performance) are a disservice to the man; Poe was a genius, a Major Depressive, and a drug addict; however, I doubt very much he was ever the manic monkey on meth they make him out to be in certain scenes. Poetic license, they will say. I wonder what Edgar Allen would have to say to that?
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Movie Mood: Scary Movie
Film Completeness: Looked complete to me.