Some Period Poe
With a need for drink and propensity to declare his genius Edgar Allan Poe (John Cusack) has a knack for winding people up, yet despite this he sill manages to attract the sweet Emily Hamilton (Alice Eve). But it is because of his delusional sense of importance that when Detective Fields (Luke Evans) comes to him in need of his assistance he is not interested in helping. The case which Fields needs help with involves a serial killer who is using the descriptions of gruesome murders from Poe's own stories to carry out his own killings. But Poe's lack of interest in the case is shattered when Emily is kidnapped and Poe fears it is the serial killer who has got her.
I believe that Edgar Allan Poe is part of the education system in America in the same way in Britain we had to read Shakespeare. But when I was at school in Britain I know for certain we didn't read Poe, in fact whilst I am sure there are many who will know that Poe was a writer I doubt many Brits will have read one of his stories. The good thing about "The Raven" is that you don't need to be a fan of Edgar Allan Poe to watch and enjoy the movie but probably if you are a fan it might end up disappointing.
To explain; for the first 30 minutes or so we enter the word of Edgar Allan Poe a creepy figure who examines the remnants of a dead animal being picked over in the streets by birds. We get to under stand that not only is he a drinker who seeks the oblivion of the spirit to get away from the darkness in his mind but also that he is full of his own bombastic self importance to the point of being annoying. This side of the movie I would imagine would appeal to fans of Poe although the full on nature of Poe borders on the annoying for those who are watching to be entertained.
But then after those 30 minutes "The Raven" turns from being about Edgar Allan Poe and becomes a period crime story where Poe along with Detective Fields try to get to the bottom of a series of murders. In some movies we have copycat serial killers mimicking the work of earlier killers, but here it is a killer mimicking the literary killings of Poe and taunting him and the police in doing so. It makes "The Raven" just a regular movie which whilst not great is entertaining for your average movie fan. Well I say average but in truth there are elements to "The Raven" which look like they have come straight out of a "Saw" horror movie which makes me question the suitable age rating which this movie received.
Now early on you have to say that John Cusack certainly delivers character in fact larger that life character which borders on the annoying. But after this bravado opening Cusack's performance along with those of Luke Evans and Alice Eve end up rather dull, merging in to one collective of ordinary characters that feel like you have seen them in similar movies.
What this all boils down to is that "The Raven" starts out as one thing but then changes track and becomes a stereotypical period crime story with clues to be solved and a woman to be rescued. It is entertaining and nicely shot but it only ends up ordinary.