Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Book to Film (kind of) Review: The Raven

About the film
The Raven is a 2012 thriller film that is a fictionalised account of Edgar Allan Poe's last days. The film is rated 15 due to bloody violence and scenes of a disturbing nature. The Raven's run time is 111 minutes. The trailer for the film was released online on 7th October 2011 which is the anniversary of Poe's death. 

When a mother and daughter are found brutally murdered in 19th century Baltimore, Detective Emmett Fields (Luke Evans) makes a startling discovery: the crime resembles a fictional murder described in gory detail in the local newspaper--part of a collection of stories penned by struggling writer and social pariah Edgar Allan Poe. But even as Poe is questioned by police, another grisly murder occurs, also inspired by a popular Poe story. Realizing a serial killer is on the loose using Poe's writings as the backdrop for his bloody rampage; Fields enlists the author's help in stopping the attacks. But when it appears someone close to Poe may become the murderer's next victim, the stakes become even higher and the inventor of modern detective story calls on his own powers of deduction to try to solve the case before it is too late. 

What I thought
I'm kind of cheating a little bit with this one as it is not technically based on one book but rather, an author and his works.  

When it comes to Poe's work, I know very little about it although this film has made me want to know more. With a title like The Raven, I figured that this film was going to be mostly about that poem but no, it featured many of Poe's works and only really mentions The Raven in passing. Obviously, this was quite disappointing and I don't think the film really deserves its title. The film is actually about a killer who bases his killings on the works on Poe. Even with this being the plot, none of his stories are shown or spoken about in much depth so you never really get to learn much about them. While some murders are shown in great detail, some are barely seen at all so because of this, you also don't get to fully appreciate the nature of Poe's work. 

As I said at the beginning of this review, The Raven is a thriller film. The murders and gore are definitely not high up the scale enough to make this a horror film but it is barely a thriller either. In my opinion, I would say it is more of a mystery with some added gore. Poe's stories are supposed to be extremely gory and shocking but there is only really one murder where this is shown well and explicitly. I wanted more gore and more killing. I also think that by doing this, it would have given much more importance to Poe's stories and why they were being used instead of it just being a simple reason. 

John Cusack seemed like a pretty strange choice to play Poe for me and after 
looking into the film a bit more, it seems he wasn't the first choice. I'm not quite sure about the others who were up for this role either so Cusack is pretty much the best of a strange bunch for me. While Cusack pulls of a moody and melancholic mood well, his characterisation is pathetic. There are only a couple of brief moments in the film where I truly felt sorry for Poe but for the rest of the time, I didn't care too much about what happened to him. From the beginning, Poe is shown as an annoying drunk who is full of himself - not the most likeable traits I'm sure you'll agree. The point is, you never get to learn enough about Poe as a person or his life to be able to understand his feelings or actions. 

Playing Poe's love interest Emily is Alice Eve who I have never heard of before. As a British actress, I thought that she did a very decent job of having an American accent in this film but that was about the only good thing about her. As a character, Emily is very much the damsel in distress for the most part although she does show signs of strength for a couple of brief moments. Overall though, her acting was terrible. There were moments where I would have actually loved to have been able to slap her or punch her in the face and to tell her to get a grip because she was that annoying. More than her acting being bad though is the way that she delivered her lines. Generally, she sounded extremely annoying the whole time so it was very hard for me to like her at all. 

The character and actor who surprised me the most was Luke Evans who plays Inspector Emmett Fields. Coming on to the scene to help solve the mystery of the murders, it was clear that Fields should have been the hero of the film. Letting him down though is lack of screen time and a weak script. While he pulls off his lines well, he doesn't get nearly enough of them. Also, there isn't much screen time given to Fields so that we can see him trying to solve the mystery of the murders. The whole point of this film is to figure out who is killing people by using Poe's work as inspiration but there isn't much detective work to be seen. More than this, we get to see a slow friendship of sorts building between Fields and Poe. Frankly, I couldn't care less whether they hated each other or not. I cared about the mystery being solved which was sadly given a back seat. 

The Raven was a very mixed bag for me. While I liked it, there were things that could have been done so much better and things that I thought were utterly pointless and stupid. An ok film but I won't be buying it on DVD.

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