While Edgar Allan Poe may be a well-known American poet and author, I’ll be the first to admit that a movie about him doesn’t sound all that appealing. But if the screenplay has sensationalized his life, moving him from author to character in one of his own blood-drenched stories, then it might be worth watching. Make it a murder mystery blend of ‘Se7en‘ and ‘Sherlock Holmes‘, add John Cusack and ‘V for Vendetta‘ director James McTeigue, and it’s something worth checking out.
Stylistically, ‘The Raven’ isn’t all that far off from Guy Richie’s ‘Sherlock Holmes’ movies. Picture that same dark and moody world with a couple of grisly murders that warrant an R-rating and that’s what you’re getting. In ‘The Raven’, a killer is murdering innocent people in the same ways that they’re described in Poe’s graphic stories. Recently known as a washed-up writer who has “used all his tricks,” Poe once again feels useful when he’s brought in to help solve the case. He’s hesitant to see his words brought to gruesome life, but when his lover (Alice Eve) is kidnapped, he has no option. If he doesn’t play along with the murderer’s game, she will inevitably die. McTeigue’s action is great and Cusack unabashedly commits himself to playing an overly-emotional drunk who can’t help but constantly wax poetic.
‘The Raven’ is getting a bad rap amongst early reviewers, but I promise that it’s not even close to being as bad as it has been painted. There are a few hiccups due to poor directorial decisions, but nothing fatal. If you’re a fan of murder mysteries, you should enjoy what ‘The Raven’ has to offer. The film tends to take itself seriously, but it playfully bounces its fictionalized plot off the historical reality and places Poe in a great game of cat-and-mouse. After hearing all the negative reviews, if you give the movie a shot anyway, you might be pleasantly surprised by what ‘The Raven’ offers.