Daily News header

The Raven Movie Review: Cusack Wilts As Poe, The Boozy Action Hero

By     get stories by email

Any movie that begins with a disclaimer to the effect that the content is based on the last few days of an iconic historical figure during which time nothing is known about him, should be heeded more as a warning than anything else. And in the case of the fictionalized borderline movietoon The Raven, supposedly based on the final days of Edgar Allen Poe's tormented life, what we're lured into seeing through the immortal alcoholic writer's eyes, is less creative genius than say, pink elephants.

And if one were to play detective - not one in Poe's mysteries but rather in scavenging for clues as to the perpetrator of this blasphemous when not screwball rendering of his life, Exhibit A readily turns up The Raven's Australian filmmaker, James McTeigue. Likely mulling a master plan to marry older literary classic fan expectations with a video game sensibility in order to seduce attention deficit disorder youngsters into the theaters, the director of V for Vendetta and Ninja Assassin has masterminded a mockery of a formula likely to appeal to neither.

John Cusack does his best to breathe passion and a wild temperament into his Poe. But given little of dramatic substance to work with, his character essentially plays out as an annoying madman for the tedious duration. It seems that Poe, along with the Baltimore police and local newspapers, are being taunted by a mid-19th century mystery serial killer - a terrifying entity that had not yet existed publicly back in those days. And who is maliciously acting out Poe's stories one by one, an alarming situation which initially focuses suspicions on the bewildered when not routinely inebriated out of his mind wordsmith.

And what would seem to begin as a pungently moody and atmospheric period biopic, abruptly switches genre gears into slasher gore territory. As Poe's stories are reenacted in the most gruesome and cheesy fashion. While Poe spends most of his time running about town boozing it up in pubs, and bragging in an abrasively confrontational manner as can be. Or storming into editorial offices demanding that his literary genius be recognized and published immediately. Or at least free of rewrites.

In the meantime amidst all this untamed narrative frenzy and panic, a strikingly contrasting ho hum sidebar love story rears its dull head. With Alice Eve as Emily, the undercover lover of Poe, dodging her disapproving dad (Brendan Gleeson) while eliciting zero erotic chemistry with her assigned egghead object of desire. And spending most of the movie trapped in a coffin or alternately under the floorboards where, believe me, she is not for a moment missed.

While it would certainly be unreasonable to expect any movie to emulate the literary richness attributed to Poe, that is no reason to go about reinventing, or rather fixing something that is in no way broken. In any case, it will come as no surprise if the next step in mining the writer's legacy for cheap, sensationalistic financial gain, should make its debut as Poe, The Video Game.

Relativity Media
Rated R
1 1/2 stars

Prairie Miller is a NY multimedia journalist online, in print and on radio, and on WBAI/Pacifica National Radio Network's Arts Express. Read more reviews by Prairie Miller. Contact Prairie through NewsBlaze. Read more stories by Prairie Miller.

  Please click this get stories by email button to be notified about future stories, and please leave a comment below.

  Please leave a comment here     If it does not display within 10 seconds, please refresh the page

Related Movie Reviews News

Laurence J. Fishburne, III has achieved an impressive body of work as an actor, producer and director. He talks about playing Pops on the new TV sitcom, Black-ish.
Movie Stars like to boast they can play just about anybody, if they put their mind to it. But for celeb and sex symbol Richard Gere, morphing into a dazed and confused homeless man literally wandering the streets of NYC proved more than daunting.
Flying in the face of this conventional wisdom is Ari Seth Cohen,a street photographer who roams around Manhattan looking for flamboyant elderly females to capture with his camera
Thought-provoking, faith-based parable asking whether it's ever too late to make a second impression. An intriguing morality play written and directed by Will Bakke
The Pocono Mountains Film Festival Celebrates its 12th Year in commemoration of the 60th Anniversary of Brown VS. Board 50th Anniversary of the Voters Registration Act
Our Movie reviewer Kam Williams gives his wekly previews to make choosing a film fun. Including titles such as Annabelle, Gone Girl and the blue room.

 

NewsBlaze Writers Of The Month



Popular Stories This Month

newsletter logo

NewsBlaze
Copyright © 2004-2014 NewsBlaze Pty. Ltd.
Use of this website is subject to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy  | DMCA Notice               Press Room   |    Visit NewsBlaze Mobile Site