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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

POSTER ART
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
15
Cast
Alice Eve
John Cusack
Brendan Gleeson
Luke Evans.
Directors
James McTeigue.
Screenwriters
Ben Livingston
Hannah Shakespeare .
Running Time
110 minutes

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The Raven
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Plot
Baltimore, 1849. Murders inspired by the works of Edgar Allan Poe baffle the authorities, so police detective Emmett Fields (Evans) consults Poe (Cusack) himself. Emily Hamilton (Eve), Poe’s girlfriend, is abducted and buried alive, and the killer challenges Poe to solve clues left on corpses to find her before the air runs out.


Review
The Raven
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In 1912, the first film called The Raven wrote Edgar Allan Poe as a character into one of his own works. Many subsequent books and films have sought to fill in the dark blanks in the author’s biography – no-one really knows what he did on the last few days of his life – with sensational fiction. This injects the down-on-his-luck poet into a mid-Victorian version of Se7en as he shows up at the scenes of gruesome crimes based on his own stories – a woman shoved up a chimney in a locked room, a critic cut in half by a pendulum, etc – and puzzles over clues set by a killer who's playing out the horrors that spring from the author’s head.

A thin, bearded John Cusack makes a reasonable Poe, suitably febrile and mercurial – given to outbursts of verbal and physical aggression, though the low-flown dialogue seldom sounds in period and never sounds like even a cracked genius. The low-wattage supporting cast, though, suggest a project that was downgraded during development: busy Luke Evans (The Three Musketeers, Immortals) doesn’t hold up the cop/sidekick role, pretty Alice Eve is just a token (fictional) pretty woman to be emperilled and Brendan Gleeson just shows up as the girl’s blustering father (the sort of dolt who won’t cancel his masked ball just because of a few murders). From the first crashing chords of the disastrously inappropriate rock score to the frankly dumb punchline, this consistently misses the mark – mostly thanks to haphazard scriptwriting which suggests a wikipedia level of Poe scholarship and a failure to grasp the concept of the whodunit.

Thunderingly directed by James McTeigue (V For Vendetta), with swooping camera and period art direction but no flair at all for the Gothic, The Raven keeps evoking other, better essays in the metafictional detective genre, from Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow through From Hell to the Conan Doyle-as-sleuth TV series Murder Rooms but never finds its own identity.


Verdict
Besides being an author, Edgar Allan Poe was one of the most vicious, merciless critics of his age. He would not have let this get past him without skewering its shortcomings with a barbed quill.


Reviewed by Kim Newman

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for The Raven
Empire Star Rating

Dead on arrival

An admittedly handsome though ultimately lacklustre murder mystery spun out from the suspicious death of Edgar Allan Poe. Here, his mysterious demise is linked to a copycat killer so it all plays like a Victorian “Saw”. Matters are not helped by a completely disinterested Cusack, and pity poor Alice Eve who gets to spend most of the film buried alive. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by RJNeb2 at 08:15, 22 June 2014 | Report This Post


RE: Very Jack the Ripper-ish

There was potential here but it was all wasted. First and foremost, the biggest flaw was that none of the characters was in any way sympathetic. Poe in particular is presented as extremely arrogant and unpleasant. In a film where you are supposed to empathise with the travails of the characters, if you really don't care at all who dies it takes away any sense of peril which is presented The script is bland and stilted and the plot potters along in a drab manner which never lights the screen... More

Posted by sanchia at 21:04, 26 January 2013 | Report This Post


Very Jack the Ripper-ish

When it’s over, The Raven wasn’t a film about one piece of work from Edgar Allan Poe, but a collection of macabre tales, which a crazed serial killer decides to bring to life. There was definitely a Jack the Ripper feel to this film that surprised and intrigued me. I went into this film without knowing anything about the story except that Cusack was playing the role of Poe, which, in itself, was worth a sit through. Cusack does a commendable job playing the sombre writer, capturing the eccen... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Alene at 04:12, 05 August 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Poe Faced!

The Raven Very fictionalised account of Poe's last days up until the point where he was mysteriously found ill and dying on the streets of Baltimore. Apparently the writers included some real accounts of Poe's life into the film but to be honest you would never have guessed. What you have here is a serial killer horror set at the time of Poe and that's pretty much it. This could be set or made anywhere its that generic and bland, its only the dark rustic mists of old 19th century Mary... More

Posted by Phubbs at 22:04, 13 July 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Poe Faced!

The Raven Very fictionalised account of Poe's last days up until the point where he was mysteriously found ill and dying on the streets of Baltimore. Apparently the writers included some real accounts of Poe's life into the film but to be honest you would never have guessed. What you have here is a serial killer horror set at the time of Poe and that's pretty much it. This could be set or made anywhere its that generic and bland, its only the dark rustic mists of old 19th century Mary... More

Posted by Phubbs at 22:03, 13 July 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Poe Faced!

t argue with you on that one! ... More

Posted by vipey at 20:47, 01 April 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Poe Faced!

I wouldn't argue with you on that one! ... More

Posted by vipey at 20:46, 01 April 2012 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

A distinctly average murder mystery thriller lacking in any actual mystery or thrills to jangle the nerves. Cusack makes a decent Poe, but bar the odd witty line is given very little to do that could be considered interesting. Evans and Eve offer lacklustre support (it's never a good sign when you're more pre-occupied by her two front teeth rather than her coffin-based predicament), whilst Gleeson's talents are wasted on a father figure characterised in cliche. The end credit sequences also loo... More

Posted by Qwerty Norris at 13:10, 21 March 2012 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

As a fan of Poe (and John Cusack), I was looking forward to this movie, but in the end it just felt very forgettable. I'm having trouble remembering it now as a matter of fact. I thought it would at least all end with the Fall of the House of Usher... ... More

Posted by thepluginbaby at 15:55, 20 March 2012 | Report This Post


RE:

L: OSSIE2404 Is that what you call a review? Awful. How would you judge whether to see the film based on that. sp;   Actually, that's an excellent and astute review.     ... More

Posted by JohnChard at 19:00, 15 March 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Poe Faced!

L: vipey Much maligned by critics - but not for the first time - I find them to be wide of the mark. Granted, the film has enough plot holes to drive a bus through and set pieces are frequently muddled and the dialogue is very stilted - but it has enough spirit and atmosphere to forgive these shortcomings. The acid test - I want to read more of Poe as a result of seeing this film - that qualifies it as some sort of success. es but you want to read more Poe rather than sit through The ... More

Posted by Groovy Mule at 19:04, 12 March 2012 | Report This Post


RE: ONE STAR

The movie starts off quite well, mood is set, intreague layed down....and then the plot happens. Unfortunatally there is enough down time in the plot for you mind to keep going back to the plot holes (like exactly when was she abducted, she was in his arms literally a split second earlier.) John Cusack is having enough fun to keep things moving along and the action scenes are distracting enough, as long as you don't question why they're actually happening. But if you do make it ... More

Posted by blackduck at 12:22, 12 March 2012 | Report This Post


RE: ONE STAR

n 29th century Baltimore, Edgar Allan Poe, writer of famous poems and stories like The Raven, is a penniless drunk, depending on money he gets a newspaper for writing acerbic reviews of other writer’s work to keep him in the booze. Emily the woman he loves is difficult to reach because her father Colonel Hamilton as a very understandable dislike of Poe so they have sneak around behind his back. Two murders occur which bear a striking resemblance to a certain Poe tale and Detective Emmett Fields... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Dr Lenera at 20:33, 11 March 2012 | Report This Post


ONE STAR

Accurate, but very generous review. Made on the cheap and all the acting is terrible, even Cusack. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by tysmuse at 20:03, 11 March 2012 | Report This Post


Poe Faced!

Much maligned by critics - but not for the first time - I find them to be wide of the mark. Granted, the film has enough plot holes to drive a bus through and set pieces are frequently muddled and the dialogue is very stilted - but it has enough spirit and atmosphere to forgive these shortcomings. The acid test - I want to read more of Poe as a result of seeing this film - that qualifies it as some sort of success. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by vipey at 19:18, 11 March 2012 | Report This Post


What the raven!?

One of the worst films of 2012 so far... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Hey_You_Guys at 23:26, 10 March 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Empty The Contents Of This Poe, It Stinks

L: BenTramer I don't know why everyone raves about John Cusack. Apart from Being John Malkovich, he's played himself in every movie I've ever seen him in, he's a very limited actor and he's cocky as hell. The interview about this movie on the Empire website is cringeworthy with Cusack looking very uncomfortable talking about the "duality" of Poe. Yawn. up. ... More

Posted by Spaldron at 00:40, 10 March 2012 | Report This Post


RE: What a PRETENTIOUS review

double post ... More

Posted by Groovy Mule at 00:06, 10 March 2012 | Report This Post


RE: What a PRETENTIOUS review

It's dire. Truly the worst film I've seen this year so far (and I've seen The Darkest Hour and WE). Dialogue and script are clunky at best and it's strange that McTeigue who got a number of good performances from his V For Vendetta cast can't get a decent performance out of an admittedly inferior cast. Alice Eve delivers a terrible performance as has been pointed out above and Luke Evans is a personality vacuum on screen sucking any interest from the film. Whilst this is clearly... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Groovy Mule at 00:04, 10 March 2012 | Report This Post


RE: What a PRETENTIOUS review

Caught this at a morning screening in Cineworld. I like John Cusack, Gleeson and thought Evans was good fun in The Three Musketeers. Not overly high hopes going in but was hoping for an entertaining and perhaps sinister whodunnit. ] -Looks decent-ish. That is the costumes are great and its all quite dim (both lighting and wit). -One death sequence, spoiled in the trailer, is suitably gory and wincing. -Cusack looks great as Poe. -Killer isn't THAT predictable. /b]... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by st3veebee at 22:16, 09 March 2012 | Report This Post


What a PRETENTIOUS review

^ Enough Said. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by balmerm at 07:51, 09 March 2012 | Report This Post


Empty The Contents Of This Poe, It Stinks

I don't know why everyone raves about John Cusack. Apart from Being John Malkovich, he's played himself in every movie I've ever seen him in, he's a very limited actor and he's cocky as hell. The interview about this movie on the Empire website is cringeworthy with Cusack looking very uncomfortable talking about the "duality" of Poe. Yawn. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by BenTramer at 12:17, 08 March 2012 | Report This Post


If Newman doesn't like it..

..It's probably at least decent. That being said I wasn't overly impressed by the trailers. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by markasmarv at 16:04, 05 March 2012 | Report This Post


Don't know what you mean OSSIE2404. It's a good review and confirmed my suspicions after watching the trailer that this was one to miss. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by darthmax1 at 16:00, 05 March 2012 | Report This Post


Is that what you call a review? Awful. How would you judge whether to see the film based on that. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by OSSIE2404 at 13:34, 05 March 2012 | Report This Post


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