Unexpectedly graphic, humorous, and fun.
- Who's going to like it: John Cusack fans. Go Dobler!
If you can get around seeing Lloyd Dobler saddled with a really bad hairpiece and an accent that comes and goes, you’ll find “The Raven” to be a decent ride. Director James McTeigue (“V for Vendetta”) brings his own brand of Wachowski-influenced style to the screen, but I think his editor might have undermined him here and there, as some of the action sequences give you the feeling that you missed a connecting piece or two. I also kept feeling like I’d seen all of it before; “The Raven” seems like a mishmash of other movies…
It’s “Sherlock Holmes” in that it reinvents an icon, with whom you figure out the twists and turns (although the clues are much more plausible than anything in the Holmes’ movies). It is also nearly any buddy flick, with an unlikely alliance and friendship between John Cusack’s Edgar Allen Poe and Luke Evans’ almost comically intense “Detective Fields.” The love story between Poe and Emily Hamilton (Alice Eve) is the catalyst for her being sucked into the villain’s crime-scheme; much like countless other crime dramas in which a friend/relative/lover of the investigator becomes the focus of the crime, to further focus their resolve. Then again, the whole premise of the crimes being inspired by works of fiction smacks of a list of other movies, too. With all of this “inspiration,” making the lead Edgar Allen Poe almost seems like a gimmick to make “The Raven” different from its various bits of source material.
Finally, the ending – which almost seemed to hint at an unwelcome sequel — ends more or less satisfyingly, but still seems a bit like another movie (“The Departed”) before closing with end credits and music that seems more appropriate for still yet another film (nearly any recent action flick).
Even with all of this, it was still a good time at the movies as far as escapist fare goes; just not a great time. Its murderous depictions were surprisingly graphic, and some humorous lines were randomly placed so as to allow for some release. It was also inventive in its depiction and explanation of Poe’s last days on earth, tying in well to what little we know of them. But it’s weird to see Cusack in something like this (although not as weird as seeing him in “2012”), considering his dream of acting in a “piece of art.” “The Raven” is grisly fun, but art it ain’t.
SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT!
When the true villain is finally revealed, is seems to come a bit out of left field. There were VERY little clues as to his identity, although, again, the clues that finally lead to him are realistic; they just come very late in the game. However, when all is out in the open, the actor portraying him (Sam Hazeldine) is so disarmingly intense and downright SCARY it’ll have you ignoring the lack of background or plausibility.
Overall Score for “The Raven” from Rich Bonaduce: B-
“The Raven” is rated R for sexual content, and language throughout.
Directed by: James McTeigue
Written by: Ben Livingston (screenplay), Hannah Shakespeare (screenplay)
(3 out of 5)