John Cusack plays the legendary poet Edgar Allan Poe in The Raven, directed by James McTeigue. In the movie, Poe is residing in Baltimore when a strange series of murders ensue that all correlate with his literature. With little time to spare, the local law man, Detective Fields (Luke Evans), urges Poe to aid him in finding the vicious poetry junkie before he kills again.
I’ve been a fan of Edgar Allan Poe ever since I was fifteen years old and I first read “The Tell-Tale Heart”. When I was watching The Raven, I couldn’t help but feel that the film really hadn’t bothered to do the man justice. First of all, John Cusack doesn’t really look like Edgar Allan Poe. However, after reading on IMDB that Ewan McGregor was originally intended for the role, I think it could’ve been worse. Second, although the movie did include little nods to Poe’s life, like the fact that he often begged publishers profusely to publish his work, the manner in which he acts is not exactly characteristic of Poe. Indeed, he was intelligent, witty, and an eloquent speaker, but he was no Tony Stark. He wasn’t a very handsome man, he didn’t have women cooing after him, and he had a few less bar fights, replaced by a few more nights of fading away into an opium-induced coma. The Raven managed to reduce one of the greatest minds in history to an arrogant, well-spoken, alcoholic. Plus, John Cusack really didn’t bring anything to the role as far as pretending to be someone else. It was as if the director handed him a bottle of whiskey before the take, instructed him to finish it off, and started filming. Of course, you can’t expect the movie to show a very realistic depiction of the poet when the plot is about a man murdering his victims according to Poe’s work.
The language felt appropriate for the late nineteenth century, although the articulate flow was periodically interrupted by a random “shit” or seemingly out-of-place line like “I’m going to go take a piss”. It was strange how the movie could display such dignity at one moment, and then abruptly shock the audience with useless cursing. It wasn’t offensive because it was profanity, it was just surprising because it didn’t feel like something that the particular character would’ve said. At least, not at the moment.
One thing I did like it about it was the gore. This movie was rated R, and rightly so. There is a decent amount of bloodshed, and you will see people die, but most of the horror is similar to what you’d see on C.S.I.–crime investigation close-ups. That means if you bring popcorn, you’ll want to finish it early, because there’s more than a few shots of dead, rotting body parts.
Also, just a side note, but what’s up with the beard?
In the majority of the photos of Mr. Poe, he looks like this:
Overall, the movie was a fun ride. If you want to watch an entertaining thriller that doesn’t require much thought, go see it. If you’re looking for an educational biopic on Edgar Allan Poe, this isn’t the film you desire. It will satisfy you on a basic level, and horror fans will appreciate the dark and sinister theme, but true fans of the legend will be disappointed. The Raven is out in theaters now.