MOVIE: *** (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5)
John Cusack as EDGAR ALLAN POE
Luke Evans as DETECITVE FIELDS
Alice Eve as EMILY HAMILTON
Brendan Gleeson as CAPTAIN HAMILTON
Kevin McNally as MADDUX
Directed by: James McTeigue
BY KEVIN CARR
Back when “The Raven” came to theaters this past spring, I said that it was a movie that felt more at home on video disc. With the flavor of an old PBS “Mystery” episode, the movie seemed to be more comfortable in a more modest setting. And I stand by that statement.
The movie tells the fictionalized story of the last few days of Edgar Allan Poe’s life. Mysterious murders are happening in Baltimore, and they all seem to reflect Poe’s writings. Originally a suspect but also brought in as a consultant, Poe (John Cusack) tries to solve the mysteries. However, when his lover (Alice Eve) becomes the killer’s latest kidnapping victim, things become fiercely personal for Poe.
There’s a lot of great things about the movie, including the production design and the murky look of the entire feature. It has a grim black-and-red palate, which makes it ideal for a horror movie audience. However, even with the torturous moments in which the killer dispatches his victims, “The Raven” plays out more like a detective story than a thriller.
John Cusack is also woefully miscast in the film. It’s not that Cusack is a bad actors. He just has been employing the Jack Nicholson method for the past twenty years of so. Cusack plays Cusack, or some version of his actual personality. He’s not an actor who becomes the character; rather, the character becomes him.
This can work for the standard everyman role, which he has become most famous for playing. However, playing an icon of horror and literature, it’s hard to see anyone but John Cusack behind that goatee.
Still, for a afternoon lark, “The Raven” is enjoyable enough.
The Blu-ray comes with a nice dash of special features, including several deleted and extended scenes as well as an audio commentary by the director and producers. There’s also several featurettes: “The Raven Guts – Bringing Death to Life,” “The Madness, Miser and Mystery of Edgar Allan Poe,’ “Behind the Beauty and Horror,” “The Raven Presents John Cusack & James McTeigue” and “Music for The Raven: The Team.”