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The Raven (2012 film)

A 2012 film directed by James McTeigue

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The Last Days of Edgar Allan Poe

  • May 10, 2012
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 in 1849. Poe (John Cusack) has returned to Baltimore. He's broke and he can't get the local newspaper to publish his latest review. However, he's also a man in love. The woman of his affection, Emily Hamilton (Alice Eve) is the daughter of a wealthy and prominent businessman who hates Poe with a passion. Unbeknownst to Poe, there was a series of murders committed the night before that resemble the murders in his story, "The Murders in the Rue Morgue." Police Detective Fields (Luke Evans) brings in Poe for questioning and after deciding that he is not the murderer brings Poe aboard the case as a consultant. The murderer is playing a game with both the police and Poe and the crimes he commits all resemble murders from Poe's stories. The stakes become higher as the game goes as Poe and Fields rush to solve the case and stop the killings.

John Cusack does a great job as always. Cusack has starred in some decent movies as well as some not so great ones. However, even the ones that aren't so good are worth watching because of Cusack. He's just a great actor to watch. Luke Evans does a decent job as Detective Fields and Kevin McNally is fun as newspaper editor Maddox. Alice Eve isn't really given much to do; she's a damsel in distress and not much more.

THE RAVEN does play around with some of the "facts" of Poe's last days on Earth (his last few days are, to this day, shrouded in mystery). It also has several anachronisms (such as the word "serial killer" that is used). Like many of Poe's stories, the movie is also extremely violent. Lastly, the film builds to a climax that is rather anti-climatical.

With that said, I enjoyed THE RAVEN. It's action packed and is full of Poe references (both from his real life and from his bibliography). It has the potential to inspire younger people (who otherwise might completely avoid reading) to explore the author and read some of his works. It's grisly fun and actually kept me guessing who the killer was until just before the reveal.
The movie has been criticized by some for playing loose and fast with the facts of Poe's life and turning him into a modern detective hero. These criticisms are unfounded. Poe is the father of the modern detective story. His short stories influenced both Wilkie Collins and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It's not inconceivable that Poe could have actually made a great detective.

Also, the literary & historical mashups are all the rage right now. The characters in PRIDE AND PREJUDICE are zombie fighters, Abraham Lincoln is a vampire hunter, Queen Victoria is a demons hunter, and Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy join forces to fight off a zombie horde in a video game sequence. Some of these stories aren't written very good, but overall, I like the historical and literary mashups. THE RAVEN unfolds in the spirit of a mashup and though the ending leaves something to be desired, the way it portrays Poe doesn't dishonor the author, but pays homage to him instead.

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May 14, 2012
You're right that Poe could have been a keen detective. It's unfortunate that the movie doesn't showcase that possibility as well as its inspiration deserves. Thank you, and well done.
May 11, 2012
I really wanted to like this one--and it had a good showing in the first half. I just feel that the script did not take any risks and the pay off was very underwhelming. A very handsome movie though.
More The Raven (2012 film) reviews
review by . April 29, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
A Handsome Film But Once Everything Sets in, There Lies the Disappointment....
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.             &nbs …
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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