The Raven

Directed By: James McTeigue

Starring: John Cusack, Alice Eve, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Luke Evans, Kevin McNally, Pam Ferris, Sergej Trifunovic, Ian Virgo, and Sam Hazeldine

2012 supposedly marks the end of the world.  Since I'm writing this review, I'm inclined to think otherwise.  Hell, I'd argue that 2012 marks the year history will be rewritten.  We've got Abraham Lincoln becoming a vampire hunter.  We've got Snow White becoming an action hero.  We've even got Edgar Allan Poe becoming the nineteenth century Richard Castle.  With all these distortions of the past, Hollywood somehow seems to keep some semblance of historical accuracy intact.  Just take a look at James McTeigue's The Raven.  McTeigue somehow manages to get the date of Poe's death right, though this may be the only thing.

October 7, 1849 heralds the end of Edgar Allan Poe's (John Cusack) sad life on the streets of Baltimore.  At this point in his life, the poet and author has fallen far from his previous successes and become an alcoholic.  In the days leading up to his death, this great writer has been working with the police department to help solve a series of murders based on his literary works.  A deranged fan has brought Poe's fictional stories to life in a gruesome, horrific way. 

Consulting with Detective Emmett Fields (Luke Evans), Poe works tirelessly to find the killer as he has challenged Poe to a game of wits.  This killer decides to give Poe a little more incentive to play the game.  He takes Poe's fiancée Emily Hamilton (Alice Eve) hostage during a costume ball hosted by her father Colonel Hamilton (Brendan Gleeson).  With the stakes increasingly higher by the day, Poe's weapon of choice becomes a pistol.  However, the inner fan in the killer simply prefers that Poe do what he does best with a pen and paper.

Edgar Allan Poe should have been so much more in The Raven.  Even fictionalized, he offers a rich, intriguing background with which any good actor could build a great performance.  Unfortunately, John Cusack can't be characterized as a good actor at this stage in his career.  Cusack has no business playing the great Edgar Allan Poe.  His weak performance only scratches at the surface of a rich character with a deep darkness and a profound conflict within himself.  Cusack does nothing to make this literary icon a worthwhile character in the movie.

Beyond Cusack's sad performance, The Raven is a film plagued with many problems.  With cheesy gore that you'd find in a bad horror movie, no thrills whatsoever, and stale romantic chemistry between Cusack and Eve, there's a lot of blame to go around for this bad flick.  The movie is characterized by poor acting, poor writing, and poor directing.  Basically, The Raven sucks.

The Raven really could have been a much better film.  With some significant rewrites, better actors, and a new director, it could have been a riveting murder mystery.  Instead, I find myself wondering about another mystery—how much brandy I would need to get through this crappy flick.  I do know this.  It's a little more than the social drinking Cusack's Poe talks about in the movie.  The Raven gets a 0.09% rating.