I wrote up a review on The Raven for a writer's community I'm a part of and thought I'd share it with you. The film had so many elements I love including a writer, a murder mystery, a blur of reality and fiction, and my favourite: John Cusack.
First, let me start off by saying that this review is from the point of view of an avid movie lover and a John Cusack fan. Also, I’m in no way a rabid fangirl of Edgar Alan Poe, though I do enjoy his work. With that said, The Raven was a fun movie with a literary twist that, as an author, I liked.
The concept itself is pretty amazing, especially with the juxtaposition of Poe, his work, and a murder mystery. The namesake comes from his poem of the same title and parallels it in some ways with similar themes. The story of the film takes place in the last few days of Poe’s life, which are historically pretty interesting due to the mysterious manner in which Poe was found on a park bench rambling the name “Reynolds”. The Raven makes use of this quite well.
John Cusack plays Edgar Allan Poe and did a wonderful job. I had my doubts at first because he seemed so over dramatic and pompous, but it’s possible that the character was supposed to be that way in the beginning. As the film progressed, he toned it down and made a relatable and heroic character in Poe. Luke Evans, who played Detective Fields, was a surprisingly great addition to this movie. He’s a pretty decent actor, and his character complimented Poe in a way that made them great to watch.
One of my biggest complaints about this movie was the badly added CG. I’m talking SyFy made for TV bad. In the beginning, there is a horrible CG of Poe’s shadow as he walks down the street. It was a great shot that was completely ruined by horrible CG. The same can be said about the CGed Ravens. While I understand the theme and the visual of having ravens, the CG was just plain bad.
Cinematography-Wise, there were some beautiful visuals. My favorite and the one that is most vivid in my mind is a scene where Poe chases the murderer into the woods, which are completely barren and shrouded in fog. It was a great scene that was ruined by badly CGed ravens. Another fantastic shot, which was thankfully not ruined by bad CG, is when the murderer was riding a horse and he is dressed in a black costume with a skeleton in the front and a skull mask. This was to represent death from
Masque of the Red Death in a fantastic scene.
For those looking for historical accuracy, look else where. The Raven is a fun fictionalization of Poe’s final days and utilizes his work and his themes to create a fun movie. Besides, if Abraham Lincoln can be a vampire hunter, why can’t Poe help catch a murderer who is killing based on his own work? I would recommend this movie for anyone who isn’t a serious and avid Poe fan, who like a good murder mystery, and who love John Cusack.