The 2012 film The Raven was useful in showing two things: the lifestyle and mysterious death of the disgruntled poet Edgar Allen Poe and how not to make a movie about Poe’s life.
One would assume with a film title like The Raven, we would actually get an accurate representation of its author, but instead we get yet another Hollywood action/mystery thriller.
“On October 7, 1849, Edgar Allen Poe was found half-dead on a park bench in Baltimore. The last days of his life remain a mystery.”
The film opening shot pans to a dark figure sitting on a bench in some foggy park. We can assume this is Poe (played by John Cusack) based on the demeanor of this person; sunken eyes rolling in the back of his head and an overall look of poor health. We can than, from this scene, predict that the last days of Poe mysterious life will be revealed.
For those who want to see a film that gives a biography on Poe’s life, this is not for you. The plot lacks any unique qualities and it transforms into one of those cop movies with petty mind games, clues and personal vendettas.
Set in Baltimore in the mid-1800’s, a serial killer is murdering people in the most heinous of ways. The unique thing about these murders is that they are inspired by the writings of the penniless drunk Poe.
In order to get himself off the hook, Poe teams up with the famous Detective Fields (Luke Evans) to hunt down the killer. The film does not start to have life until Poe is properly motivated when his fiancé Emily (Alice Eve) is kidnapped and the real hunt begins.
Upon seeing the previews for this film, the thought of John Cusack playing Poe seemed legitimate. Not only does he match the role appearance-wise, but in nature. Cusack seems to acquire roles that involve much character distress, both internal and external.
For a film under the direction of James McTeigue (The Matrix and V For Vendetta), I was a bit displeased with the characters. Apart from Cusack’s performance, the others remain forgettable and overly scripted. The accents were nonsense and there was no real essence to the characters. It would be acceptable to say this film could have been better. For content that still remains unknown to this day, why would the director use average actors for a clearly non-average story?
Nevertheless, The Raven is an overall mystery – in production and content.
I did find it a bit odd that McTeigue decided to make Edgar Allen Poe an action hero involved in swashbuckling scenes and intense gunfire. Referencing other analyses of Poe, he was most of the time under the influence of his favorite drink Absinthe or in a depressed stupor. I doubt he had the strength to ride horses, climb scaffolding and engage in gun fights. The only accurate bits I saw were the scenes that showed his rampant alcoholism and how it corrupted his mind.