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Quoth the…really, really bad movie: “The Raven”

April 22, 2012

I don’t get it. Edgar Allan Poe is melancholy incarnate. He is the epitome of the darkness that comes from tragedy. His macabre stories don’t come from a mind simply acutely attune to the  twisted like Stephen King, but from a personal tragedy he could never recover from. So, um, somebody decided that wasn’t bad enough that they also had to urinate all over his corpse by making a movie in which he has to hunt a serial killer who’s copying his stories? The hell?

That’s The Raven, an ugly mash-up of Seven and a high school freshman’s demented idea for a screenplay. This movie takes place in the final days of Poe’s life, which the movie proclaims “no one knows what happened.” Apparently, what happened was a serial killer began murdering people in the manner of Poe’s stories. Ugh. I mean, Poe is a fascinating historical character, giving us the template for detective stories, and much of horror fiction as we know it. But all this movie does is give us a weak mystery and some none-too-bright protagonists to follow.

If you're a murderer, these are the guys you pray will work the case.

Yep, that’s our movie. There’s someone roaming the streets of Baltimore who is recreating the grisly parts of Poe’s oeuvre. The detective on the case, Fields (Luke Evans, who has been in enough stuff to make him seem familiar without being placable) is a fan of Poe’s work and enlists the writer to be a consultant on the case. Hey, why not? It worked on Castle, right?

Any episode of "Castle" is smarter than this movie...

Okay, so, the mystery in and of itself is a bust. There’s no reason for it, aside from the fact the murderer is a big fan of Poe. But beyond that, John Cusack does a terrible job here. If you read my review of 1409 you remember that at some point in the ‘90s Cusack stopped being a good everyman lead and became a giant douche. Here, he plays Poe as…well, basically douche-Cusack. He doesn’t create a character, but instead just does his usual “low-talk/frantic eyes/hyper-caffeinated” thing. So, I ask, what’s the point of this movie?

This is our hero...yeah, we're boned.

Additionally, we get:

* The killer builds a pendulum as in The Pit and the Pendulum. As shown, it entails a two story contraption with numerous gears and cogs that looks like it must weigh tons, and entail a dozen civil engineers to build. You’d think somebody would have noticed that thing in the middle of downtown Baltimore.

* The killer works in numerous industries at once to ensure his kills. When does he have the time?

* The movie makes liberal use of the term “serial killer,” which I’m pretty sure wasn’t in the lexicon in 1849.

Also, there's a hot chick, but she spends most of the movie in a box.

* The heroes don’t solve anything, but simply play through the killer’s plan. Even the revelation of the killer is a part of his plan. These heroes suck. Really, they do.

* You know, if you’re a screenwriter and you’re writing a historic literary figure, you better hope you can emulate his prose. In this case, they can’t, and we get Poe saying things like, “You retarded oyster!” WTF?

* Oh, and the killer’s plan is one of those Hollywood screenwriting things in which the killer relies on the cops to make a bunch of decisions he has no way of ensuring they’ll make. Like, “hey, I hope they figure out to go into the storm-draining tunnels, and find this one patch of wall that’s newly-sealed, and find what I’ve found there, so they can discover another hyper-cryptic clue…”

Edgar Allan Poe, the Beastmaster

* Poe’s death scene (SPOILER! Edgar Allan Poe is dead)  is hilariously staged, with an upside-down Cusack o-face gaping like a retarded trout.

This movie is ugly and stupid and pointless. Someplace Edgar Allan Poe is sighing heavily and asking, “Why do I have to deal with this, too?” I got no answer.

One comment

  1. Some very interesting stuff. It isn’t everyday I find something worth reading on the web.



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