Once upon a weekend dreary, at the movies, weak and weary,
From the meaningless action of the film I’d seen before
While I waited, quietly seated, in the dark I sat and tweeted,
As if some one actually needed, needed my opinion for.
`Decent Action,’ I tweeted, `Decent action that I’d seen before –
Only this, and nothing more.’
Ah, distinctly I remembered, at Comic-Con I was a member,
In Hall H I was attendant on “The Raven” panel floor.
Eagerly I wished to see it; – vainly I hoped Cusack freed it
From the current trend of sorrow – sorrow for his lost career –
For his once proud, wonderful, but currently offtracked career –
Mentionless here for evermore.
So the brightening of the silver screen brought hope the movie
Thrilled me – filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
Unfortunately now, to sadness of my heart, it hurts reporting
`’Tis some average outing that feels as if you’ve seen before –
Truly some average outing that feels as if you’ve seen before; –
This it is, and nothing more,’
Cusack plays Edgar Allan Poe in his final days… drunk, destitute, but not wholly despondent, because he has the love of Alice Eve’s Emily Hamilton. He can’t make enough money to buy a drink, but his stature as a renowned poet still holds sway. When a serial killer begins bringing his tales to life, he is called in to help investigate the crimes… a situation that grows complicated when Hamilton is kidnapped and Poe is coerced by the killer to begin chronicling the events, lest she be killed.
And thus unfolds a tale where mutliple crimes are committed based on Poe’s tales, and Poe – playing detective and victim simultaneously – is called upon to help follow the trail of clues the killer is leaving for them. All the while, his gorgeous young love is being kept prisoner and on the verge of being buried alive. It’s scavenger hunt against time, with a string of morbid clues creating the trail.
The high concept of this film is phenomenal. The Poe bibliography is filled with creepy tales of macabre murders that would make wonderful fodder for today’s grizzly serial killer thrillers. And the tales certainly due get their representation here, but not quite with the feeling I’d wish them to. Director James McTeigue embues this movie with sort of a “Dark Sherlock Holmes” feel… where I would have much prefered a “Period Piece Se7en” feel. That’s not to say there are Guy Ritchie flourishes or that level of action, but… somehow the creepy just doesn’t come across as much as it should have, and instead McTeigue works in chase scenes and a shootout.
Cusack certainly has the looks for Poe, but I have to confess, I found his performance spotty. I just have to call it like I see it. I’m a big fan, I’m on the record with that, but there were times when I just wasnt picking up the intensity that I would have liked. I could put that on McTeigue, too I suppose, but I had been hoping for more. At times he delivers the requisite level of pathos you’d expect out of a character of Poe’s ilk, but at others, I just wasn’t feeling it.
The pieces never quite fit together or make sense, either. How is Poe able to woo such a gorgeus young woman if he’s so washed up? If he’s with Alice Eve why is he acting like such a mope? I’ll avoid direct spoilers, but I do have to relate that I was really disappointed with the film’s resolution, too. Everything revolving around the finale was pretty much a let down for me. The word I’m looking for is “Fizzle”.
Which is a shame. The concept held such potential, and I’m dying for Cusack to return to form and add another winner to his impressive resume. Throughout “The Raven” there are numerous flashes of what it could have been. A moment where Cusack embodies Poe, or moments where the ghastly crimes bring the twisted imagination of Poe to the big screen. At the end of the day though, I have to admit that the movie never delivered on its potential and wound up a middle of the pack distraction at best.