Movie Review: THE RAVEN
Quote The Raven, nevermore. Its one of the most famous lines in the history of poetry, of course coming from the demented mind of Edgar Allen Poe (played by John Cusack), the main character in The Raven. A serial killer begins going rampant in Baltimore, but his killings show a liking to, and in fact exact resemblance to, Poe’s stories. The film surrounds the chase for this killer, who takes Poe’s love hostage in order to keep him involved. What ensues is a relativity boring expedition that simply exists more than it invigorates. While the movie is pushed along and driven by the gory murders, which are well executed, the overall bland nature of the film leaves it lacking, making it a film that probably isn’t worth the full theater ticket price.
When the film opens, Poe is a lost drunkard who has clearly lost the drive and spirit that inspired some of his greatest works. While this is going on, Detective Fields (played by Luke Evans) discovers a crime scene with two bodies: one with a woman whose head is nearly severed, and another shoved into the chimney of the apartment. Knowing this is eeringly similar to one of Poe’s work, Fields brings him in on the search.
The execution of the kills is the best part of the movie. The moments of bloody mess and excessive gore help drive the movie, mainly the blade on the pendulum that slowly slices its victim to bits. Were it not for these epic moments, the movie would just be bland and boring. The settings are also well executed. The visuals do a great job of setting us up in old town Baltimore, and I think its a good touch that most of the city doesn’t appreciate the genius of Poe yet. Throughout the movie, he is faced with his peers thinking he is nothing more then a drunken mess, which adds a nice touch to his unreliable character.
The action is heightened when Poe’s love, Emily Hamilton (played by Alice Eve), is kidnapped at her father’s costume ball. What follows is a slew of murders that are not only copies of Poe’s stories, but leave clues leading to the location of Hamilton. As mentioned before, while the murders are well executed, there is a surprisingly little amount of tension in the movie and between the characters. There was a disconnect there – maybe from acting, directing, or a combination of the two.
While Hamilton is locked up in a coffin in the tunnel where she is being held captive, she rarely seems to be in trouble. It was mentioned earlier in the film that Poe would give his life for hers, so most of the film seems to be just leading up to this in a not so subtle way. There is never a threat to her life, as she is used more so as a pawn in the killers game then a potential victim.
The ending of the movie is relatively exciting, but it seems more a relief when it ends as opposed to a dramatic conclusion. I found myself waiting for the movie to end, which is never a good thing in the cinema. I will say that it did come on rather quick, as I was surprised, yet still relieved, at how short the movie was. While I was glad it ended quickly, the solution to the mystery of the killer seemed too easily resolved. There’s the standard practice of “plant-and-payoff” and this was sorely missing. Instead of the audience getting chances to speculate on who the killer is, it’s put out there too quickly with little clues about who it could be and therefore no emotional payoff for the viewers.
Overall, The Raven lacks the emotion and tension to make it a must-see film. Whether it is the absense of danger in the air, Cusack’s monotone acting, or some other factor that sucks life out of the film, it is ultimately an interesting at times, but mostly dissapointing, look at one of the most genius and troubled minds of our literally history.