Film Review: The Raven

The Raven Header“It’s a mystery what happened in the few days prior to Poe being found near death on a park bench.”  Oh really, movie!?  I’m pretty sure had Edgar Allan Poe been a part of a pretty notorious crime spree there would be record of that.  PREMISE BLOWN!

Phew, got that out of my system.  Let’s just say that if you want to start a film with a line like that, how about adding: “therefore we are going to make something completely ridiculous up that actually makes no sense with what we just said if you use your brain.”  I am all for mixing fiction with history, and adapting a real individual from history to a completely made up premise is fine by me (I am excited for Abraham Lincoln to fight vampires soon, just as an example), but let’s not set it up as if this story could have possibly been his unknown days.  Just let it be a pretend factoid from his life.

I wish this was the end of my anger, but really this random outburst is the result of sitting through a movie that I just could not enjoy no matter how much I tried.  To put it simply, there is far better out there to compare this to.  The first episode of Castle comes to mind premise wise, but even closer than that in cinematic relevance is the recent break out star known as Sherlock Holmes.  Now that man knew how to solve a mystery.

Obviously Sherlock had being a detective on his side, but more importantly, he had a collection of people who all came together to make one BA movie in his honor, making him cool to a new generation (mostly the first one, less the sequel).  These people came to play, and The Raven doesn’t stand a chance.  Let’s start with the man.  Now I have only read one or two of his works, but there is no denying that Edgar Allan Poe knew what he was doing as a wordsmith of the dark and morose.  He could turn a morbid phrase, which is probably why someone thought it would be a great idea to make him the protagonist in a story in which his works come to life in a slew of murders (an interesting dichotomy that is touched on in the one scene of the film I actually liked).  However, unlike Sherlock, he doesn’t actually know how to solve them.

Then again, I am really not sure if anyone in this movie knows how to solve a crime (so much as conveniently has the knowledge to figure out that clue, or knows someone who can help).  As the law runs around one step behind the murderer as bodies continue to pile up on their door rather quickly, the story never manages to obtain any depth.  In actuality it was rather weak from start to finish, including the glaring fact that there isn’t so much detective work done, so much as John Cusack’s Poe and Luke Evans’ Detective Fields having shouting matches to make the other think.  It was all rather dramatic, as was Cusack’s peacocking (in a manner not entertaining like Robert Downey Jr.’s arrogance as Sherlock the majority of the time) and Alice Eve’s soft-spoken manner and chest heaving during the worst of it all.  Now add this to the awkward editing that led to a few moments of confusion and we have the makings of something playing with the art of distraction.

The scene I mentioned enjoying before comes towards the end of the film so I can’t go into detail on it, but I can say that it hints at a truly great idea and conversation worth having.  The problem is it isn’t brought up until this point, as it should have been throughout the film.  Maybe it had been in there in the beginning of production, but whatever was left and put on screen was not that.  It is truly surface level, undeserving of the man this was meant to honor.  At least, I think it was to honor him.

Final Grade:  D          

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