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The Raven (2012 film)

A 2012 film directed by James McTeigue

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A Handsome Film But Once Everything Sets in, There Lies the Disappointment....

  • Apr 29, 2012
Edgar Allan Poe was one of the best known American writers of this modern age and was often considered the inventor of the detective fiction genre. The man is well known for his stories of the macabre and mystery. On October 3, 1849 he was found near death on a park bench at the streets of Baltimore. He died 4 days after being in a very delirious and dire condition. His death and the days before his death have remained a mystery up to this day.

                        Luke Evans in "The Raven.''

This is where director James McTeigue’s (V for Vendetta) “The Raven” comes in. It tries to rationalize and fictionalize what led to the death of the acclaimed author. The film begins when a group of policemen find the bodies of a mother and daughter who seems to have been brutally murdered. Detective Emmett Fields (Luke Evans) becomes the leading surveyor when he finds the details of the grisly murder very similar to a fictionalized tale written by a now struggling Edgar Allan Poe (John Cusack) making him one of the prime suspects. But as soon as Poe is brought in for questioning, another grisly murder occurs that once again resembles a tale from one of Poe’s stories. It appears that a serial killer is using Poe’s stories as a blueprint in the hopes of bringing Poe into the fold. Now as Poe’s beloved Emily Hamilton (Alice Eve, She’s Out of my League) has been abducted, time is running out for Poe and Fields as they try to hunt down this ruthless yet cruelly intelligent homicidal individual who seemed to have an obsession with Poe..

                    John Cusack as Edgar Allan Poe in ``The Raven.''

                   Brendan Gleeson as Captain Hamilton and Luke Evans as Detective Fields in ``The Raven.''

For some reason, when I saw the trailers of the film I noticed several similarities to “From Hell”. I hoped for the best when I went in to see “The Raven” though admittedly I had my reservations about it. I understood, and yet I was puzzled as to why a movie about the events before Poe’s death would play more like an adventure-thriller rather than something that resembled one of his tales of mystery. At its core the script behaved more like a chase film with Poe and Fields trying to race against time to save Emily. Clues are set to lead to one thing after the next. The way the things were set up felt very convenient, with their solutions and answers either coming from left field or merely going by the numbers kind of deal.

The direction and the screenplay by Ben Livingston and Hannah Shakespeare tries to incorporate certain things from Poe’s famous tales such as “Masque of the Red Death”, “Pit and the Pendulum”, “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” and “The Mystery of Marie Roget” to add some thrills into the death scenes. It was a vain attempt to make the film more “Poe” related and to have the viewer get more immersed into the story. We’ve seen several films that carry this type of elements, and we’ve all seen them so much better. The Poe story tributes were welcome but they barely made any impact in the story’s revelations. There was some dramatic flair as Poe and Fields struggled to put the clues together but they lacked the needed power for the three acts to finally mesh in the narrative. It wasn’t that the devices were predictable but I was just disappointed that way it tried to make sense of everything in the end.

                      A scene from ``The Raven.''

                      A scene from ``The Raven.''

For a Poe inspired film, of course the film would have some gruesome images. The effects in the film were all CGI, and as decent as they were, the effects weren’t unnerving at all. The blood effects were noticeably computer enhanced which kind of ruined the effect of a scene for me. The one thing that really made an impression on me was the huge swinging blade that slowly dropped from the ceiling. I know, the film’s intentions may have been built to be adventure rather than horror, but it lost an opportunity for visceral impact.

The characters in the film are standard ones. Poe played by John Cusack was interesting, and while I am not certain how the real Poe was, I thought it was a caricature of what may pass for a struggling writer of the macabre. Cusack does a good job and he does form a chemistry with Luke Evans and their exchanges proved to be one of the film’s few positives. I did however feel rather shortchanged with the characters of Emily and her father (Brendan Gleeson) as they barely made a relevant position in the plot. I was very disappointed when the film finally made its revelation. I know, sometimes the simplest things can make more sense, but it was a little unsatisfying for me. Ok, sure, why not? But I suppose I was just hoping for a more grim resolution that resembled one of Poe’s eerie stories or something more imaginative than what I saw.

                        Alice Eve as Emily Hamilton in ``The Raven.''

Perhaps I expected too much from the film, or maybe I merely felt like the story had so much more to offer than what I saw. “The Raven” may be no winner but it isn’t exactly a loser. The film had good production values, great costumes and set designs and it was made with the right atmosphere that made the shots effective in ways that I really felt that I was really in the 19th century. The film is made right but the lack of a more imaginative and ambitious story made those things rather cosmetic despite the potentials of its core.  Perhaps I am being too harsh with the film, and despite my gripes, it was entertaining and I am sure it will find an audience. “The Raven” is not a must see nor is it good, but surely it would be worth a look as a rental.

RENTAL [3- Out of 5 Stars]

Poster art for "The Raven." Comic-Con Poster art for "The Raven."

A Handsome Film But Once Everything Sets in, There Lies the Disappointment.... A Handsome Film But Once Everything Sets in, There Lies the Disappointment....

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May 20, 2012
I agree with almost everything you said about this film. While I found it to be more than entertaining and substantially more engaging than I first imagined, this film at it's basest level was nothing more than a route murder mystery/ serial killer thriller that used Poe's stories as a way point- if you may, to make the use of the famous author and poet more believable. Even though it had its flaws I quite enjoyed this film despite the fact and found it quite engrossing and I agree that this film is far more of a rental than a big screen adventure. Forgive me for sound so analytical, excellent work.
May 20, 2012
I actually really enjoy your comments. I too, have enjoyed it to a degree, but for some reason, and I just recently realized this, the second half reminded me a little too much of "The Bone Collector" I totally agree that it merely used Poe's stories as its premise, but it really felt what you can say 'standard'. It is a movie with excellent production values indeed and it is easy to like. I surely hoped that it was a lot more. How have you been? Nice to see you around again!
May 20, 2012
I might need to re-watch this film to catch that reference you made to "The Bone Collector". I have been doing great, sorry I haven't been on as much in the last few months. I've just been so busy with school and everything else that I didn't really have much time to come on and write the way I use to, how have you been?
May 21, 2012
Yeah, the second half and the way it was structured was similar to that film imho. I have been fine, and of course, we understand--school always comes first! Hope all is well....
May 09, 2012
Yep - gonna wait for the rental on this one!! Nice write up as usual, but it's a shame the movie wasn't better than it was.
May 20, 2012
It can be enjoyable, Brenda, so you may need to take a look at it as a rental.
May 23, 2012
Oh it'll be on my list!!! Thank you...
May 03, 2012
Darn. I had very high hopes for this one. Thank you for the persuasive recommendation to lower them. In the 1970s there was a movie that speculated about some missing time in Agatha Christie's life. It didn't make much of its potential either.
May 20, 2012
I have to say, this felt a little too standard and uses Poe's stories as a basis for another serial killer tale. It feels a lot like the ones we have seen before.
May 03, 2012
Some musings about Edgar Allen Poe who was born the same year as President Lincoln: "William Butler Yeats was occasionally critical of Poe and once called him "vulgar".[109] Transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson reacted to "The Raven" by saying, "I see nothing in it"[110] and derisively referred to Poe as "the jingle man".[111] Aldous Huxley wrote that Poe's writing "falls into vulgarity" by being "too poetical"—the equivalent of wearing a diamond ring on every finger.[112]" "In March 1825, John Allan's uncle[12] and business benefactor William Galt, said to be one of the wealthiest men in Richmond, died and left Allan (Poe) several acres of real estate. The inheritance was estimated at $750,000. By summer 1825, Allan celebrated his expansive wealth by purchasing a two-story brick home named Moldavia."[13] "Poe decided to leave West Point by purposely getting court-martialed. On February 8, 1831, he was tried for gross neglect of duty and disobedience of orders for refusing to attend formations, classes, or church. Poe tactically pled not guilty to induce dismissal, knowing he would be found guilty.[29]" Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edgar_allan_poe
April 30, 2012
This does have me interested but now I think I'll wait on the rental.
More The Raven (2012 film) reviews
review by . May 10, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Edgar Allen Poe did not have a very happy life. He was met with tragedy throughout his life. He was found gravely ill in Baltimore, Maryland dressed in clothes not his own and spouting incomprehensible phrases. It's said that one of the things he kept repeating over and over was the name "Reynolds." The screenwriters and filmmakers of THE RAVEN have used the strange death of Edgar Allan Poe as the event that ties the story together.      THE RAVEN is set in Baltimore …
review by . April 28, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Star Rating:         On October 3, 1849, a delirious and incoherent Edgar Allen Poe was found wandering the streets of Baltimore. Upon being taken to the hospital, he was reported to have repeatedly called out the name Reynolds, although he could not explain how he came to be in such dire straits. He finally died on October 7 at the age of forty. His exact cause of death has never been determined, and the death certificate and all medical records have been lost. Over …
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About this movie


  • The Raven
  • Opened April 27, 2012 | Runtime:1 hr 43 min
  • R Bloody Violence and Grisly Images

    Comic-Con Poster art for "The Raven."
  • The macabre and lurid tales of Edgar Allan Poe are vividly brought to life - and death – in this stylish, gothic thriller starring John Cusack as the infamous author. When a madman begins committing horrific murders inspired by Poe’s darkest works, a young Baltimore detective (Luke Evans) joins forces with Poe in a quest to get inside the killer’s mind in order to stop him from making every one of Poe’s brutal stories a blood chilling reality. A deadly game of cat and mouse ensues, which escalates when Poe’s love (Alice Eve, She’s Out of My League) becomes the next target. Intrepid Pictures’ The Raven also stars Brendan Gleeson (In Bruges) and Oliver Jackson-Cohen (Faster).
  • Cast: John Cusack, Luke Evans, Alice Eve, Brendan Gleeson, Kevin McNally, Oliver Jackson-Cohen
  • Director: James McTeigue
  • Genres: Action Thriller, Period Film, Thriller
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    Genre: Horror, Thriller
    Release Date: April 27, 2012
    MPAA Rating: R
    Runtime: 103 minutes
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