Edgar Allen Poe was a morbid little guy. So naturally, director James McTeigue (V for Vendetta) has made a movie about Edgar Allen Poe investigating a series of murders inspired by Edgar Allen Poe poems. John Cusack plays Edgar Allen Poe, but unfortunately The Raven pales in comparison to the writer's real work.
The Raven follows Poe as he is drawn into a murder investigation, in which he is originally a suspect. Detective Fields (Luke Evans) eventually comes around to trusting the man, who acknowledges that a serial killer is using his various poems to inflict horrible pain upon a seemingly random set of victims. It isn't until his girlfriend Emily (Alice Eve) is kidnapped, however, that the game truly begins.
Unfortunately, it's not much of a game, and not much of a movie.
The Raven is a bland, forgettable thriller that attempts to capitalize on the success of the new Sherlock Holmes movies without capturing the same energy of their stories or charisma of their star. Cusack seems to realize the movie is just a rip-off of bigger and better things, for he shows little enthusiasm toward creating a defining character. Cuasck's Poe is just John Cusack in a costume.
The movie as a whole is just too straightforward and too generic for its own good. While McTeigue avoids any outright disasters, he does little to invigorate a traditional crime story. Aside from some gruesome murders, The Raven lacks the excitement and intrigue needed to work in this day and age. The mystery is unremarkable, the suspense manufactured and the villain as intimidating as Justin Bieber.
The Raven is a movie that would have worked better had it been released 20 years ago. Unfortunately, it isn't 20 years ago. Edgar Allen Poe deserves better.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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