The Raven seems like it has potential, even though the premise is the same as the pilot of Castle. Hey Edgar Allan Poe, some dude is killing people based on those books you write, wanna help us track this guy down? Not a terribly original premise, but could be interesting. Turns out eh, not so much.
I went into this movie thinking it was rated PG-13. That notion was quickly put to rest once you see a dude got chopped in half, Pit and the Pendulum style. The blood looks insanely fake but I’ll always give a movie credit for sawing a guy in half and not cutting away. At this point I kind of got excited at the idea of a 19th century Saw. Edgar if you can’t figure this puzzle out fast enough this dude will be eaten by rats and that sort of thing. That may have actually been a SAW trap, I honestly can’t remember. Unfortunately after that part there’s not really anything else like it and it becomes more of an episode of Law and Order or really any other random cop procedural.
Of course it wouldn’t be a movie if Edgar’s fiancée didn’t get kidnapped by the guy so it sort of becomes a race against time although nobody seems all that stressed about it and tend to still have a lot of downtime. The big issue here is that we aren’t really given any reason to care about this relationship. We know they love each other because the movie tells us they do, but we never see why. They barely get any screen time together before she gets taken, so it’s hard to get too involved.
The idea of watching them try and solve this case without any of the tools I’m used to seeing on modern shows was also a little intriguing. However this is one of those killers who likes to gloat and give hints and dare you to catch him. So they don’t so much gather evidence and solve clues as they do go to places that the killer tells them to. The whole movie is essentially “oh shit he says he’ll be at the library we better get there! Oh fuck he got away! Oh shit he says he’ll be at the museum, we better get there!” And so on. When the killer and their motivation are revealed, it’s pretty anti-climatic. It’s supposed to be a riveting game of cat and mouse but it falls flat.
I can’t decide whether or not John Cusack is ok in the role of Edgar Allen Poe. Mostly because I’m not sure if he was trying to do an accent or not. Sometimes it seems like he is, others not so much. You know what, I just now decided that his performance is not great. He’s either underplaying it, or really overdoing it, and spends far too much time yelling “EMILY!” which might have made a better title for the movie.
That’s about it really. The Raven has a decent set-up but it’s just not that engaging. It’s rarely surprising, it’s a little dull, and now that I think about it a lot of doesn’t make sense. The idea is that we’re witnessing the events of Poe’s last days, which very little are known about. However through the entire movie we see newspaper headlines broadcasting what Poe is up to, not to mention the townsfolk are very ware of his actions as well. Shenanigans! Anyway, if The Raven took place in modern times it would be just like a million other serial killer thrillers. Not terrible, just very standard.