Friday, May 4, 2012
THE RAVEN (2012)
Directed by James McTeigue
John Cusack - Edgar Allen Poe
Luke Evans - Detective Fields
Alice Eve - Emily Hamilton
When a madman begins committing horrific murders inspired by Edgar Allan Poe's works, a young Baltimore detective joins forces with Poe to stop him from making his stories a reality.
A person I work with mentioned something about the movie that actually makes sense, yet it was a sad statement as well. To summarize, she said that people are going to go see this film just because they think it's a horror movie. She also stated that most people won't get the literary aspect of the film. This is the sad part with most people that will see this, the general audience. Yet the people that grew up loving to read will probably get a lot more enjoyment out of The Raven due to they are more versed in stories that make up the film. So now that the boring part is over with, what did I think of it you ask.
As far as I'm concerned John Cusack really has not been bad in anything he has acted in. Sure some of the films he's chosen to do aren't the best, yet that doesn't mean he hasn't done his best in them. Cusack playing Poe I really didn't know what to think about when I first heard about this film. Looks wise, Poe in real life looked more haunted and shrunken, while Cusack doesn't quite have that look and that was the one of the put offs in the film, well that and Cusack has to much hair. Part of that is that his face, which Cusack grew a van-dyke for instead of Poe's usual mustache which didn't help very much. Acting wise though, Cusack did a very good job as playing a complete asshole through and through. Cusack you could tell had some fun playing the earlier parts as there was always a slight smile on his face when he could let go. The other stand out performance in The Raven was form Luke Evans who played Detective Fields. Evans to me though really stole the movie from Cusack by playing everything cynical and morose, partly due to the role, but I think it's more Evans though that his character has seen to much and it's gotten to Detective Fields.
The story for the movie is for the most part very interesting as it's based on fact. Yes, Poe really did disappear for a week before his death. Also one of the only words Poe would say after he was found on a park bench was the name Reynolds. Just this set up alone could launch a hundred fiction stories and what's even better is that this part is all fact. The rest of the film is fiction as it has Poe helping a detective find a serial killer that has been killing people in the way people were killed in Poe's stories. Yes, in the movie we get some very interesting set-ups based on Poe's stories The Murders in the Rue Morgue, The Pit and the Pendulum, The Masque of the Red Death, The Mystery of Marie Rogêt, and The Cask of Amontillado. At each of the crime scenes, or on the corpse's themselves, a clue is left leading to the next murder scene or set-up. This part of the story is what drives the movie to me and keeps it interesting and almost action driven. But, it's the love story parts of the movie that slows it down and keeps it from ever going full blast like I think the movie really wanted to do. It's not that these parts are badly written, it's just that the chemistry between Poe and Emily Hamilton has no spark to it and just seemed dull compared to the rest that was going on. Another negative to the film is the main antagonist. After watching the whole film you just feel let down by the revel of who has been putting Poe through hell, as it is played up so much only to have it seemingly thrown away by having no real resolve between the two what so ever.
The look and feel of the movie though is one of the main draws for me on this one. The Gothic atmosphere is in full effect. Cramped quarters, fog ridden town, run down streets slick with wetness, it's all there. Director James McTeigue knows how to get some very effective shots from the worms eye view of the killer on top of a church door to a pale rider on a horse. Yet, some of his shots were also lacking the emotional punch that he has shown before, most notably in The Pit and the Pendulum scene. While yes, there is blood in this scene, it is neither the most gruesome or suspenseful. The scene goes by to quickly and just seemed rushed as if it was an after thought and seems like it was shot almost comically. Another hit against the scene is the use of fake blood as it's mostly CG blood which ruined the scene even more. While the film had it's good and bad, they both evened each other out in the end. The one true miss with the film though is the characters were all flat and were never really allowed to be played out like they wanted to. The Raven had so much potential, though in the end it tried playing against what it wanted to be, a thriller, and instead wound up being a run of the mill mystery movie that had a lackluster ending.
John Cantrell's death from above.
I might as well have written eroticism!
Both Ewan McGregor and Jeremy Renner were originally attached to star in the film, yet had to drop out.
Noomi Rapace was offered the role of Emily.
The filming began on November 9, 2010 in Belgrade and Budapest.