Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Raven

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

The Raven – 3 out of 5

Quote the Reverend about The Raven…meh.

History tells us that Edgar Allan Poe was a tortured genius. It’s been debated if the historical stories about how this macabre writer ring true or if he was just a part of a giant slander campaign thanks to Rufus Wilmot Griswold but there was no denying that the man made some of the most memorable examples of American gothic literature—literature that has, surprisingly, not been made into shitty pop-culture goth t-shirts at your local Hot Topic.

High school teenagers all over the world share the same look when they are forced
to read Poe's works.  Granted teenagers have that face all the time but whatevs.

Other than his wicked stories, one of the coolest aspects of Poe’s life was…well…his death. On October 3rd 1849, Poe seemed to decide that life needs to imitate art and straight out of something that his pen would have ejaculated on his pages, Poe was found acting “delirious and in great distress” (which means he was probably naked, drunk and had a sharpie penis drawn on his forehead). Meanwhile, he keeps repeating the name “Reynolds” before ultimately welcoming himself into Death’s bosom on the 7th—his boney, cold bosom. It still remains a mystery what actually killed him but what’s really cool about this (as if Poe acting like a madman isn’t enough) is the fact Poe’s whereabouts for a week before he was found (sharpie penis and all). There is no reliable account to where he was during that time but, if I were to guess, it probably involves Taco Bell, losing his friend during a bachelor party in Las Vegas and possibly stopping an invasion of alien zombies that may, or may not be, vampires as well. Since there is no record of what (or who) he was doing during that week, it’s easy for some screenwriter to take this fact and make up some story to make a movie on. And can you blame him/her? You can imagine all kinds of awesome scenarios with that missing time…say, Poe battling zombie aliens that are vampires.

Luke Evans is fucking serious.

The Raven is a fictitious account of what Poe (John Cusack) was doing during that missing week…and apparently it was all about getting all C.S.I. on everyone’s ass and solving a crime. It seems that crazy fanboys still existed in the mid-1800s as a rapid fan of Poe’s has decided to recreate his iconic stories into real crimes and goad the tortured writer to play a game—a game that might involve zombie aliens. Teaming with Detective Fields (Luke Evans), Poe is out to find his love Emily (Alice Eve) who is being held captive by the obsessed fan and will surely die unless Poe figures the game out.

If this was historically accurate, the only way she would love Poe was if she was
13...and Poe's cousin.  (Google it, Poe married his 13 year old cousin.)

Evans is still fucking serious...
First off, The Raven looks great. The film doesn’t get all Tim Burton-goth and keeps it something that looks like the time period while maintaining a tone that would make the real Poe proud—provided if he was still alive and didn’t die fighting zombie aliens. The only real look of the film they got wrong was casting John Cusack (who mysteriously isn’t filmed at all in the rain in this one—I thought that was in his contract) as the haunted author. The real life Edgar Allan Poe was painfully homely (seriously, try looking at his picture and not find yourself recoiling in horror) and John Cusack is far too handsome to pull off Poe. However, Cusack is a decent actor and you quickly start to believe that Poe is capable of getting the ladies through the use of holding a boombox over his head and blasting Peter Gabriel. You can even forgive that Cusack occasionally forgets to pull in his acting in some scenes and starts to ham it up. However, with Luke Evans providing a decent straight man to Cusack’s Poe, the scenery chewing is always quickly brought under control.

Eh, close enough.

The only real downfall this movie contains is the lack of a payoff in the film’s ending. The concept of the movie is a great idea and the story, while not as engaging or compelling as it could be, is still entertaining enough to be worth the money. However, in the final moments, there isn’t much spectacle to the film’s build-up and it feels slightly empty and lackluster. Hence my quoting “meh” rather than “never more.”

God damn, does this guy ever smile?

Like much of Poe’s work (excluding his epic battle against zombie aliens that the high and mighty Hollywood Overlords feel is “too extreme” for audiences to deal with) this film works well on paper, however, its execution didn’t pan out (seriously, The Simpsons are the only ones to adapt a Poe story well and that doesn’t say much). While the movie looks good, the story is decent and the acting is adequate but the lack of any real compelling ending hurts this movie more than anything. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a script to write about Edgar Allen Poe fighting zombie aliens that are also vampires…and possibly werewolves, too.

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