Rebecca Paul seems unimpressed by this latest offering from Hollywood, which is saved by John Cusack.
The plot itself is a strange one. Struggling poet, Poe, is called in to assist police after a series of grisly murders takes place which seemingly emulate the writer’s macabre tales. Got it? OK.
The title, The Raven, appears to have no significance whatsoever despite their near omnipresence as they soar, land, scavenge, squawk and perch throughout the film, only really serving as dark images to frame the scene. I can’t but think that one or two well-placed instances would have had much more impact than the apparent aviary-outbreak we see in the movie.
There’s a general lack of subtlety which is disappointing. Rather than allow the audience to feel Poe’s depression and darkness, it is clumsily revealed to us at every opportune moment as he brawls, drinks, offends and lapses into periods of melancholic introspection. The last can be forgiven as Poe’s work dictates as much, but the sprawling of limbs and overt replaying of conversation we have witnessed mere minutes beforehand feel clunky and really do not give the viewer enough credit. Particularly ironic, when you consider Poe’s work itself was that of the imagination run wild.
Cusack is a fine choice for the pained protagonist and delivers a number of witty and erudite remarks with charm and insanity, just as you would hope. Moreover, his intense sadness and depression is felt through his interactions and periodic fury with others and this is moving to watch.
The Raven, as a stand-alone film, is entertaining enough. Cusack hits the spot, there’s plenty of the macabre and burlesque to keep viewers visually satisfied and the plot, while contrived, more or less sustains its audience.
With remakes and adaptations dominating the movies, I wonder if perhaps we’ve lost touch with what makes these classic stories great. The legend is borrowed and traded for modern regurgitations with more action and peril than its predecessor ever had, or sought.