Customer Reviews: The Raven
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on April 27, 2012
On October 3, 1849 Edgar Allan Poe was found wandering the streets of Baltimore, delirious, calling out the name Reynolds. There have been lots of theories as to what Poe died of, from tuberculosis, rabies or to a drunken bender. "The Raven" puts forth a more romantic theory and a detective story for the man who invented the modern detective novel.

"The Raven" as a movie demonstrates that you can make a movie that bridges the biographical facts of Poe's life and its own artistic vision and still make an interesting movie. The movie is driven by the premise, a serial killer starts a series of killings in Baltimore that emulate some of the more gruesome murders in Poe's stories. When the first murder is done inside a locked room, police detective Fields (Luke Evans) recognizes it as the setting of an Edgar Allan Poe story. Fields brings in Poe (John Cusack) at first as suspect, but when another murder occurs Poe quickly becomes the first criminal profiler and consultant. Poe helps Fields both in what kind of mind the killer may have and of course in the details from his stories. The killer kidnaps Poe's girlfriend Emily (Alice Eve) with the killer promising clues as to Emily's whereabouts with each new murder he commits.

The filmmakers, director James McTeigue and writers Ben Livingstone and Hannah Shakespeare don't try to recast Poe's character as a superhero or give the movie Poe attributes that the real Poe didn't or couldn't possess. As mentioned before, the filmmakers stick fairly accurately to the known elements of Poe's last few days, although there are some artistic liberties taken, and they still present an entertaining movie with a few twists and turns as to who the murderer is.

Cusack is spot on as Poe from his look, thin with a black mustache and goatee, to (more importantly) Poe's character. Poe was a writer who had the ultimate confidence in his own abilities as a writer and was dismissive of his contemporaries, especially if they were more successful. Cusack is supported by a cast that hits every note right.

If you think a movie about Edgar Allan Poe won't have enough action for you, this is a movie for you. If you're more literary minded and think this movie will have too many inaccuracies or violate Poe's character or will throw in too much action, you won't be disappointed.
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on October 10, 2012
As much as I am a fan of Cusack movies, I am an even bigger fan of all things POE, so I was really concerned about this being done without any integrity and too many liberties being taken, but that was not the case. Overall, the movie was done really well. I really enjoyed it. They didn't take any outlandish liberties with Poe or his work, so it all worked well together for this lover of Poe.
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on April 29, 2012
All of the actors in this do an excellent job!
The story was really interesting, even though I didn't know very much about Edgar Allen Poe to start with.
The movie keeps you guessing through the entire thing. Great story line with great twists and turns.
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"The Raven", a fictional horror thriller featuring the non-fictional literary figure Edgar Allan Poe, was well crafted and never less than adequately watchable, but I really expected more. While calling the film cartoony and childish would be way too critical, I thought there was a broadness and simplicity to the proceedings that made the movie veer away from some potentially very interesting waters.

I'm just thinking aloud here, but I would have loved to see a fictional Poe film set in the months prior to his death in 1849, one that made a genuine attempt at showing viewers what Poe was like, what demons bedeviled him, that sort of thing. The device of the fictional detective story involving Poe could have illuminated the non-fictional aspects of his life, aspects that contributed to his tragic, premature death.

But, no, here we get a sanitized, generally likable Poe with only the barest nods to the man's excesses, depression, and hardships. To be fair here, the film at least mentions that Poe lost his young wife to tuberculosis and that the tragedy still haunted him. But not all that much, according to this movie. There also isn't much grittiness or realism in the depiction of Baltimore in 1849, even though numerous crime scenes in bad parts of town are depicted. There was more moody darkness in the Robert Downey Jr. "Sherlock Holmes" movies.

Finally, worse than the broadness evident in the depictions of characters and locations, the movie didn't even give poor Poe the dignity of his inherent flaws when it came to his death. In other words, flattering or not, Poe's demons and weaknesses were part of who he was and why he died, and that should have been shown in the movie. But, no, here we are given a contraption-like plot development (I won't get more specific in case you're planning to see the film) that's responsible for Poe dying. What bothered me about that? Well, it's not so much that the plot contrivance painted Poe and his demise in a better light (to the point of making him downright heroic, in fact); it's just that, in the end, the revisionist history seemed somehow... disrespectful. Let the poor man have his demons and weaknesses.

Plusses? The movie's production design was lavish; the death traps built by the mysterious killer were suitably creepy; there's generous discussion and quoting of Poe's work (especially his poetry); John Cusack did a good job (given the limitations of the script's approach to Poe's character); and I strangely admired the film's willingness to present no-holds-barred gore and violence. On that last point, the movie ads were selling an adult-oriented horror thriller and, well... we were given an adult-oriented horror thriller. I appreciated that.

I just wish the adult approach extended beyond the violent, intense aspects of the production. "The Raven" is an okay movie that could have been so much more.
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For many viewers this film seems to have been expected to be a biography of Edgar Allan Poe's life and it is obviously not that. There are many known facts about the author/poet's life and there are almost as many aspects that are not known. In this cinematic story the writers (Ben Livingston and Hannah Shakespeare) appear to want to explore the concept of murders based on Poe's famous stories and present these mysteries as reenactments during Poe's time - Variations on themes - and when taken with that approach in mind the film works very well (despite some significant flaws in the creation of the film as directed by James McTeigue). The film captures the flavor of the times and the mixing of the stories between fiction and reality makes for an entertaining outing.

Baltimore, 1849 and we find Poe (John Cusack) as a drunkard trying to get his works published by the local newspaper edited by Maddux (Kevin McNally). His devoted assistant is Ivan (Sam Hazeldine). In the midst of Poe's financial decline a series of murders occur, murders that appear to be copies of Poe's many stories, and the police (Detective Fields - the talented Luke Evans - and Captain Hamilton - Brendan Gleason) decide to engage Poe's help in solving them. As a side story Poe is infatuated with his boss's daughter Emily (Alice Eve) and when Emily goes missing Poe s determined to capture the serial killer, even making it known that he would trade his useless life to save Emily's life. The remainder of the film is a chase to the finish and along the way we learn the references to many of Poe's great poems and stories.

No, this is not a great film, but suspend reality and it is an entertaining mystery movie. The cast is solid and the special effects are convincing. If the film dawdles too long over certain features it does have other saving graces. But oddly enough, the graphics and the obnoxious music chosen for the closing credits destroy the mood and make the viewer want to simply turn off the film. Grady Harp, October 12
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on October 12, 2012
I suppose when you watch a movie which talks about murders that revolve around the writing of Edgar Allen Poe you should expect to stretch your imagination. Well, this movie does that, but in a good way, with outstanding performances all around and a rather ingenious plot. I recommend it, and don't let anyone tell you how it ends.....
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on October 12, 2012
I really enjoyed this movie and was really surprised by some of the negative reviews. John did a wonderful job portraying Edgar Allen Poe. This movie is in no way a biography of Poes life, but this movie is dark enough that Poe fits right in and I think if he were alive today he would be honored to be in a movie like this. The entire film is really dark, from gun shots, to bodies in the fireplace, all the way to a person being cut in half. The ending was great to. I totally didn't expect the killer to turn out to be who it was. Great movie all around. It is a must see movie for any horror fan, even if you just watch it once, you need to check it out.
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VINE VOICEon October 14, 2012
As one the latest films in a sub-genre where Sherlock Holmes is a telepathic ninja and Abraham Lincoln dispatches zombies, I was wondering what to expect in this 1849 reimagining where Edgar Allen Poe tracks down a serial killer who's reenacting his stories. Surprisingly, this is much better than many of the reviews have suggested - and definitely an improvement on the Holmes or Lincoln movies.

John Cusack is a good casting choice as Poe and pretty much everyone else hits the right notes too. The music is overpowering but the production design and Budapest backdrop give it a distinct and disturbing look that would suit one of his stories. As Poe is generally considered one of the pioneers of detective fiction, it's fitting that this historical mash-up is told in the form of a detective story and for the most part it keeps the audience guessing effectively.

There's enough blending of known parts of Poe's character and artistic license for the whole idea to work. Although this is from the same director as V For Vendetta, don't expect anything too similar - it's not as polished as V but still an interesting film all by itself. There's enough to keep literary fans watching and also engage people who've never heard of the man.
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on April 28, 2012
Today, I went to see "The Raven," a mystery thriller set in 1849, the actual time Edgar Allan Poe lived, my January 19th born master of macabre poetry, (though if one were to read his real-life quotes, one would be astonished as to witness such love; "We loved with a love that is more than love.") He died, rather mysteriously, at age 40.

What Director James McTeigue aspired to do was brilliantly accomplished, in this epic work of mystery which incorporates the actual life of Poe with fiction.

Phenomenal achievement, really, as to lace them, ohhh, so integrally. I salute him, as Poe would have done in his days at West Point, which were mentioned in the movie along with his two loves; first his young cousin of a wife who died of Tuberculosis, first signs truly evident at the piano, as mentioned, and the other love, of his sweetheart, Sarah Elmira Royster. The $9 he was paid for his first publication was incited, his disdain for Longfellow, as well as a myriad of his actual prose of known works from, "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" all the way to "Annabel Lee"...which brought the killer into the labyrinth of the fiction element of this film. My heavens, they even included the last publicly known words of Poe, "Lord, help my poor soul."

John Cusack's performance was EXPLOSIVE! And his lines of the time I cherish so, were perfectly articulated with the passion they should be!

And not too many present-day special effects, except a close-up of a slow-moving bullet, which was actually a fabulous adornment.

C'est Magnifique is all I can say of this movie...of course I did close my eyes to the more bloody scenes, which flitted as fireflies on a summers night. So be it.

Oh yes, and I dearly loved these enscripted words to touch my heart, said by Cusack/Poe:

"If I would have known my work would have such an effect on people, I would have devoted more of my time to eroticism."

Well, my dear Edgar, how honored I am as to cover that for thee, in "My Secret Husband."

Most grateful to have had the opportunity to view this production.
Angelina de Mourier
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on January 25, 2013
This is not a story about Edgar Allan Poe, nor is it a story about Poe's most famous creation, "The Raven." It is entirely fictitious and turns Poe into a sort of modern day detective. It is true that Poe also created the blueprint for all detective stories to follow with his "Murders in the Rue Morgue" and other stories featuring August Dupin, but the screenwriters here don't make any attempt to illuminate the actual Poe, his relationship with his wife and her mother, his publishers, his contemporaries, or even the circumstances surrounding his death. There are a few lines on the screen that proclaim his mysterious death, but the movie doesn't really explore this. He was found, in someone else's clothing, near death and never recovered. The events that caused his death have never been ascertained, but the most logical guess is he was part of an election vote stealing. He was plied with drink and taken to several polling places (in different clothes) to vote several times. This was a common practice at the time, and Poe, despite popular conception, was not a drunkard. He had an extreme sensitivity to alcohol, almost an allergic reaction. So, giving him too much to drink would essentially kill him.
His life was complex, his personality was difficult to deal with, but his genius was unmistakable. This movie does nothing to advance our knowledge of Poe the person or Poe the artist or even the mystery of Poe's death.
It is heavy on atmostphere and the story itself is rather entertaining, as long as you don't try to place the actual Poe in it. It is a wholly fictional Poe, a completely non historical story, and really more a Poe parody than a story about Poe.
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