Had I Known My Work Would Cause This Much Interest I Would've Originally Gotten Into Eroticism

The Raven (2012)
A Review by Ben Hunter
4 Out of 5 Stars
April 27, 2012
"And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting.  On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door; And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming, And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor; And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor.  Shall be lifted - nevermore!" 
A well painted picture by the man himself, Edgar Allen Poe, whom without, there would be no filmmakers of the likes of David Fincher or Tim Burton.  We can see his footprints all throughout the art of storytelling today.  In this story, we learn about the final days of the brilliant writer, as his poem "The Raven" sets the tone, the mood, the eerie pace, and the overall feeling of the film.  But isn't the primary source of adaptation for the story; rather a catchy tone and setting for the story.  So it would've been nice to see more of that aspect and tie into an overall theme for the narrative. 

John Cusack really did his homework to portray the witty and emotional writer in this dark, murder mystery in 1800's Baltimore.  The film sets the tone from the opening shot and we get into the character of our hero.  He had different sides and as a struggling artist/writer, it would be hard not to.  Poe would write short stories for newspapers as well as the pulp tales for the penny savers.  So in the film we see Poe emotional and drunk, begging for ale while wondering if he has one more amazing story to write.  I came to later find that the film's screenwriters Ben Livingston & Hannah Shakespeare, did their homework as well and these different sides of Poe were all accurate.  All in an effort to portray him as human, with flaws, but all in an honoring manor and to no disrespect.    

Meanwhile, a murder has taken place.  A mother and daughter were murdered; so police detective Emmett Fields (Luke Evans) is on the case.  He notices that the murder is all too familiar and recognizes it as a replication of murders in one of the stories from Poe himself.  After speculation, initial accusations, and judgments are done away with; Poe and Fields work together to solve the case.  As the murders continue all deriving their origins from one of Poe's stories and it's up to Poe to remember his work, get the juices flowing again as a writer and save the woman he loves, Emily Hamilton (Alice Eve), kidnapped in the killer's grasp.  It's in this process that Poe ends up writing that story he didn't think was within; in this dark, heavily mysterious, and tragic story. 

I really liked the mood and the feeling that this movie greatly portrays.  It's dark and mysterious, so it keeps you on the edge of your seat in wonder of what's going to happen next.  Those are movies I'm always intrigued to experience.  It's a thriller, but with some horror-like aspects, as there are some scenes with horrific images, although it's not a horror movie but a grade down and just a thriller.  Think of this film as a darker, less action version of Sherlock Holmes.  It's charismatic and extremely witty, we're experiencing a story about a writer here, but it focuses on the case and how Poe goes about solving that case.  More so than filling it with a lot of complicated action stunts or horror scenes to thrill and amaze the audience but really covering the story's true strength.  So it's very entertaining because of the type of storytelling it is.  Throw in a little mystery, intrigue, and some faint gore to keep you on your toes and you've got quite a recipe for a thrilling tale, such as The Raven. 

I think John Cusack did an incredible job as Poe.  He worked with the filmmakers to make sure the story was filled with traces of Poe himself all throughout the movie.  It's filled with intellectual dialogue and the lingo of the film comes across as delightful even in all its darkness; as it's always amazing to be amongst a world of beautiful words and charming wit.  So good writing will always come across as beautiful, even if the words the story depicts are dark in nature.  I just loved how I would be intrigued by words of this story and wanted to hear more.

I would've liked to have seen a bigger name and an actress more familiar with the period piece world as the love interest to Poe.  Someone like Kirsten Dunst would've been perfect.  This was a great opportunity for Alice Eve to step up to the plate as credible actress in the eyes of the common moviegoer who probably only know her as "that hot girl in She's Out of My League", if they know of her at all.  I feel she was just a pretty face and couldn't hold her own with the likes of John Cusack, Brendan Gleeson who portrays her father, and Luke Evans, the actors who we connect with most as they take up most of the screen time. 

Still, I think this is a great step up for director James McTeigue from V for Vendetta and Ninja Assassin.  He and the rest of the filmmakers went through great lengths to honor the man behind this film.  The Raven is a more connecting, darker, thriller type of story, that adults who can handle some gore and that scary suspense found in a lot of horror films will enjoy!

The Raven
Thriller, 111 Minutes, R
Written by: Ben Livingston & Hannah Shakespeare
Directed by: James McTeigue
Cast: John Cusack, Alice Eve, Luke Evans, Brendan Gleeson, and Oliver Jackson-Cohen

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