Excerpt: “Nevermore.” As I learned watching a few of the featurettes to this movie, Edgar Allen Poe was the first American author to actually write for a living. That’s to say he wrote and actually got paid for it. Now that’s fairly commonplace these days and with authors like J.K.Rowling and Stephenie Meyers becoming veritable billionaires, it’s strange to think that Poe was only paid $9 (yes, nine dollars) for “The Tell-Tale Heart.
Summary: Loads of strong technique and some impressive visual flair make The Raven a treat for the eyes while the played out storyline prevents it from ever taking off the way it could have. There’s an interesting idea here but it’s never fully exploited, the end result is a very pretty exercise in style over substance, but Fox earns top marks for a great Blu-ray presentation.
Excerpt: The year is 1849. The place is Baltimore, Maryland. Edgar Allen Poe (John Cusack, Hot Tub Time Machine ) is one of the most esteemed writers of his generation. He is also an impoverished drunk who has run out of inspiration. These days, Poe struggles just to get his lacerating literary reviews published in the Baltimore newspaper.
Conclusion: I seriously don’t get why this film bombed or was hated as much as it was. Maybe nowadays Edgar Allan Poe is obscure and the majority of people today don’t know or just don’t care about a film that fictionalizes his life like that. The Blu-ray is has above average video and a great soundtrack. The extras are also pretty good. I could have gone for some more supplements dealing with the real Poe, but what we got was okay.
Conclusion: The Raven crafts a reasonably creative and involving mystery around Edgar Allan Poe and his works. It kind of plays out like a less flashy, less visceral version of the new Sherlock Holmes movies, so if you like those and can tolerate some gore, it's in your interest to check this out. Fox's combo pack offers a terrific feature presentation and a fairly ordinary bunch of extras, standing as a typically fine release of a typically adequate thriller.
Conclusion: Full of grand, original ideas, with plenty of potential to entertain, 'The Raven' ultimately lacks the substance to make audiences care or make this fictionalized mystery thriller the least bit memorable. John Cusack's performance as famed American author of the macabre, Edgar Allan Poe, is the only genuine highlight, but it's somewhat wasted in a story about a serial killer inspired by the scribe's works with a terribly dull payoff.
Excerpt: John Cusak’s portrayal of famed literary icon Edgar Allan Poe is one of flailing arms, sharp stares, and a genuine affection for exaggeration. The character is tanked but by decisions not necessarily made by Cusak. This one is likely on director James McTeigue. Maybe he still has some left over energy from his deliriously stupid yet fun Ninja Assassin . Variances in the performance dim the early look at a Gothic Baltimore almost as much the as the lighting.
Excerpt: Over the years it’s become easy to figure out which movies John Cusack does for the pleasure and fulfillment of being an actor and which ones he does for the paycheck. James McTeigue’s The Raven clearly falls in the latter category, as it’s impossible to believe that an actor as smart and talented as Cusack would actually be passionate about such an awful movie.
Excerpt: On paper, The Raven looks like it was inspired by kindred films like Kafka , Naked Lunch , and The Rum Diary , which place an author inside his own stories. But on the screen, it’s more a companion to 2009’s Sherlock Holmes —a similarly over-the-top, visually busy adventure thriller about a Victorian literary hero plagued by a criminal mastermind. Like Robert Downey Jr.
Conclusion: Besides being an author, Edgar Allan Poe was one of the most vicious, merciless critics of his age. He would not have let this get past him without skewering its shortcomings with a barbed quill.