Prepare yourselves to be whelmed.
The Raven starring John Cusack is a thriller fictionalization of the final days of famed poet Edgar Allen Poe‘s life; as he aides Inspector Fields (Luke Evans) solve a series of murders based on Poe’s fictional work.
Brace yourselves as this is a period piece that utilizes the fact that Baltimore in the 1800’s didn’t have much light, even at high noon. This dark and dreary setting is accented by the substandard cinematography of Danny Ruhlmann (Little Fish) and awkward dialog of the script by Ben Livingston and Hannah Shakespeare.
The Raven takes it’s sweet time to set itself up. The plot doesn’t really begin to move forward for at least 30 minutes. Once in motion, you get slight flashes of what could be brilliance of the level of Se7en. But they seem to lose focus and pick up elsewhere. Conversations between characters just seem so one dimensional that you can’t seem to connect with anyone, even the love stricken, unlucky bastard, Poe.
– The setting. With the exception of piss poor lighting, this film felt authentic in where it was. I didn’t feel like the extras were theater students playing dress up for a couple of dollars. They exposed enough of the world to get you to forget about Cusack’s goatee.
– The murder scenes. Creative. But not over the tops as to turn people away.
WHAT DIDN’T WORK:
– The flow of the story. I don’t know whether this happened in the writing process, filming or in editing. But This film was both too long and too short. As I mentioned it takes forever for the story to really get going, but once it’s on the tracks it don’t stop. The Raven misses a couple of stations where it should have taken the time to let the viewer in on the story a bit more. The plot wholes are huge. For a film based on the man who gave us such literary masterpieces like, “The Tell-Tale Heart,” “A Dream Within a Dream” and “The Haunted Palace” the story didn’t do him justice.
– Poe as a character. You can tell Cusack brought a lot to this character. But sometimes it felt like it was written with Nick Cage in mind. Poe was a coloured character in a greyscale’d world. Oh, and the use of “Never more,” as a catchphrase is recockulous.
Nothing in this film really stood out other than Cusack’s facial hair. As far as thrillers go, this film will have you sitting on your hands with lack of emotion. Unless you’re a huge adult John Cusack fan, this film really isn’t worth leaving your house for. If you’re in the mood to see old time Baltimore and a couple creative death scenes then you should wait for it to be out on demand, because The Raven gets THE TOILET.