So while I was finishing grading The Papers That Ate My Apartment, Natalie saw The Raven. She and Alisa are on the same page. Natalie and her boyfriend wanted to warn me of its badness, so I thought I'd let her warn all of you at the same time.
The Raven staring a duller than dull John Cusack doing a lackluster, well-fed, under-drunk Poe features around five hundred ravens. We have ravens in trees, raven in coffins of sorts, ravens flying poignantly, ravens eating a dead cat, ravens cawing at appropriate moments, ravens . . . ravens . . . ravens . . . . not to mention the fact that “The Raven” is quoted every five minutes. We get it. Poe wrote “The Raven.” You know what else he wrote? “Annabel Lee” which the writers seem to think a current lover of Poe’s (fictional lover, not biographical) would find romantic. Of course! “Honey, you know that poem you wrote about the dead love of your life? You know the one where you said ‘neither the angels in heaven above, Nor the demons down under the sea, Can ever dissever my soul from the soul of the beautiful Annabel Lee.’ That’s so ROMANTIC! I just LOVE how much you love your soul-mate of a dead wife. Let’s get married now!” It’s about as astute as an American Idol contestant singing “Dance with my Father” to her father who is to deploy soon—girlie, the song is about a DEAD father. But, the AI contestant is 16. The writers of the screenplay are presumably older. What this movie would have been appropriate for is a middle school class project to use Poe’s stories creatively—and I mean if the middle-school students wrote it.
We are confronted with several problems in this film that I’m going to try to state succinctly rather than full-on ranting. The first is the over- and mis-use of Poe’s most famous poems while under-using the murderous plots that presumably drive the killer. There is an intense lack of creativity using Poe’s stories as well as a complete lack of finesse; and a few chronological issues regarding publication dates tossed in for fun. The second is the performances. I’m a Cusack fan and appreciated how much he looks like Poe without much contrivance though a tad more sallow would have helped. But, really, Cusack needed to actually show up. I’m not a fan of Luke Evans’ performance either but that may be an instance of my not being a fan of his at all because he strikes me as a not-James McAvoy who always ends up in melodramatic, over-acted roles. The actors, all of them, also seem to employ a strange “quick!! stop dead while in the middle of a line or, particularly, a chase” for supposed dramatic effect that is annoying. The third problem is the dialogue. None of the words coming from characters mouths sound like they would have been uttered in 1849 much less by a literary figure. The fourth is the questionable historical accuracy. I understand that the film is attempting to create a story to fill the gap in Poe’s life immediately before his death and that isn’t a problem. Please, employ creative license there. My gripe is with useless inaccurate details like the doctor using a magnet to ferret out the location of a bullet. Lead isn’t magnetic and the bullet would have been made of lead. Copper jackets were the first metal change to lead bullets and that happened well after Poe’s death (besides the fact that copper is also not magnetic). There are a few instances of these inaccuracies and the infuriating part is that they could have simply been excluded. The fifth problem could be a spoiler. There is only one person in the movie who could be the killer. Only one. Meaning, there is no mystery. There is no suspense. And there is certainly no plot even close to on par with one of Poe’s. The film is more of a slow-motion stop and go chase sequence gone too long and boring rather than a murder mystery. And that is really the greatest sin of the film: taking a master’s murder mysteries and doing nothing with them.