25. The Raven (R) - Runtime: 110 minutes
Starring: John Cusack, Alice Eve, Luke Evans
Director: James McTeigue
I had really high hopes for this movie. When I first heard about this movie - I thought it was going to be a really cool thriller where Edgar Allen Poe lives out his last dies sinking into madness - believing that a killer is out to get him. I had just finished reading the novel Drood, a story about Charles Dickens last days who becomes obsessed with this mysterious man named Drood. Alas, my hopes were set too high - this movie was a HUGE let down. While John Cusack does a good job playing the part - there was just too much suck in this movie to recommend.
The story starts off well enough - someone gets killed and the police chief comes to find out that it resembles one of Edgar Allen Poe's deadly stories. At first suspicious of Poe, he finally realizes that Poe isn't the killer, but is just the inspiration and recruits him to help with the investigation as more gruesome murders occur under the guise of Poe's stories.
Unfortunately the movie does a piss poor job of re-creating these death scenes from Poe's fiction, with the exception of the first double murder. One guy gets killed by this swinging axe that keeps lower itself - he soon gets cut in half and supposedly it's a take on the Pit and the Pendulum? It's possibly the dumbest murder scene I've seen in a long time and the CGI blood doesn't help. The rest of the murders (actually now that I think about it, there's one more murder - LAME) aren't shown and have no real connection to Poe. So basically the whole movie loses it's steam after the first scene. I found myself not caring whatsoever about what's going to happen.
And I found myself not caring about Poe himself. Cusack does a good job acting as Poe - but dear god, his character is probably one of the most pretentious twats I've seen on screen this year. His first appearance in the movie is him drunkenly stumbling around the bar, berating the customers for not knowing who he is. You'd think he'd grow as a character and learn to be not such an ass, but he does this throughout the whole movie. The movie tries to make him more sympathetic and quirky by giving him a pet raccoon, but it ends up being a weird distraction that adds nothing to his character.
And then the movie itself is just boring a dull and somewhat confusing. This is solely the director's fault - because I had to rewind the movie twice to figure out what the hell just happened. There's one scene where Poe's insufferable girlfriend gets kidnapped, but I didn't realize this until the next scene when everyone's scrambling around trying to find his girlfriend. I skipped back to see what I missed, but you don't actually see her get taken away - one second she's dancing with Poe and the next chaos ensues and you hear Poe scream "Emily!" and then the movie jarringly cuts to the next day. There's more scenes like this in the movie that I scratched my head at, wondering what just happened.
While this movie had a lot of potential to be a really good psychological thriller, instead it lowers itself to a really awful made-for-tv serial killer movie. And you know what? You're better off watching the TV show Castle, because at least that show knows how to keep you invested in the mystery. The Raven should have been at least a good movie, but fails to even rise to the level of mediocrity.
Rating: Avoid Like the Plague!