Sunday, April 29, 2012
Movie Review: The Raven
One problem with this film is the script. The Raven is the first film screenplay for Ben Livingston, who has mostly been a television character actor, and one of few for Hannah Shakespeare, whose writing prowess does not live up to another famous individual with her last name. I am not going to lie, the script kind of seems like they woke up one morning and said, "I'm going to write a movie screenplay today." The manner of speech tries too hard to fit into the period and the actors trip up over the 1840s Baltimore dialect. It somehow jumps back and forth from a classical cant to something much more modern. This is largely on the part of Alice Eve whose delivery is mostly flat. John Cusack really looks the part of Poe and plays him as manic and drug-addicted quite well. I think his portrayal of the writer would be much better if the script had been tighter.
Luke Evans' Detective Fields had actually done the sleuthing that I had thought that they would. We mostly see their reactions to the crime scenes from the killer who is imitating Poe's works, with the writer explaining how it may relate to a certain story. Speaking of the stories of Edgar Allen Poe, I felt that they were not incorporated into the plot enough. Yes, there were aspects that were pulled out of his creations, but things did not necessarily make sense. It never felt that there was truly a method to the madness of this copycat criminal. It was neat to be able to spot the elements and name what story it was from, however. (My favorite Poe story is The Cask of Amontialldo, though The Masque of the Red Death falls closely behind.) While we are on the subject of Poe's works, it is my humble opinion that the title of the movie The Raven is quite misleading. The only continuity between the title and the film itself is that there are often shots of ravens seen throughout the movie, though the birds themselves serve no purpose. As far as special effects go, the CGI blood utilized in the murder sequences and crime scene aftermath leaves a lot to be desired.
Alice Eve. She simply existed in the film, adding absolutely nothing crucial to the story. It could have been any actress, and frankly I would have preferred anyone but her.) Her father, who is none too pleased with Poe's advances toward his daughter is played by the wonderful Brendan Gleeson, who Harry Potter fans will recognize as Mad Eye Moody; I enjoyed his performance immensely. To be the detective who is charged with the task of solving the string of murders based on Poe's works, Fields is downplayed as a minor character; little, if any, is learned about him. That is probably how it should be, as this is a story about Edgar Allen Poe and the introduction of too many characters would muddy the waters. Even still, the story is not advanced enough that much information is uncovered about the writer himself. We are introduced to small glances of his past here and there, but nothing that would help the audience create a complete picture of the troubled scribe. Downton Abbey fans will enjoy a cameo by one of my favorite characters.
What did you think of The Raven? Let me know in the comments!
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