TRUE! nervous, very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why WILL you say that I am mad? Because I sat through this POS of a movie! That's why! This movie really was a letdown, guys. I'm sorry to say it, but this really sucked. The best way I can describe it is to compare it to many of Poe's characters, mostly the narrator from The Tell Tale Heart and Usher from The Fall of the House of Usher. In both cases, they start out well, and then slowly decline into oblivion. And that is how I feel about this movie. The beginning was good, but over time, it just got worse and worse. The movie starts out with Edgar Allan Poe's death and then goes back to about a week earlier, claiming that the events leading to his death are forever a mystery... UNTIL NOW. You get the idea. The premise is that there is a serial killer loose in Baltimore who is killing people using techniques that have been described in Edgar Allan Poe's novels. And so a police constable (played by some dude who reminds me of an older, stone-faced Joseph Gordon Levitt) recruits Mr. Poe to help them predict the killer's next move. So far, the movie had me interested, it had an interesting story, it was interesting to see how the killer pulled off these amazing feats, and I was excited to see a movie about one of my favorite writers. The only real problem that I had so far was the casting of John Cusack as Edgar Allan Poe. Don't get me wrong, Cusack is a fine actor, but in all of the movies I've seen him in, he has always been the normal everyday guy. Whenever we talked about Poe, I always imagined him being very eccentric and reserved, yet also very over the top in the way he spoke. Cusack was able to nail down the over the top speaking manner, but I never got the feeling that he was either reserved or eccentric. I wouldn't be surprised if they originally wanted someone like Edward Norton or Johnny Depp to play the part, but just couldn't get them, but if I had to make a list of people who could play Poe, Cusack would be far from the top of it.
The rest of the movie seemed okay until the end. There was another issue that I had with it as a whole, but we can get to that later. In the end, we have this big twist as to who the killer is, and it's some guy that only had one or two lines throughout the rest of the movie. And once we come to the scene where his identity is revealed, he just becomes silly, and his motivations are kind of retarded. Without giving to much away, his ultimate end game was he wanted Poe to crank out one last good story before he died, being that Poe was going though a bit of a dry spell in the final years of his life. Aren't there better ways of doing this? On top of that, I was really hoping for that scene (that's in every mystery movie like this) where it is explained how the killer was able to pull off all of this. We sort of had it in the movie Se7en where the detectives figure it out themselves, there were scenes like that in the most recent Sherlock Holmes movies, even in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, they explain what was going on, or they at least give you enough information so you can figure out the rest of it for yourself. And there was no scene like that in this movie. Whenever we saw the killer do something, I kept thinking to myself "There is either more than one of them, or this guy is going to have some sort of weird other-worldly abilities". And on top of that, the killer just acted goofy when he finally came out. He got this weird smile and this goofy evil laugh that were kind of reminiscent of Willem Dafoe when he played the Green Goblin, now that I think about it.
There is one other problem that I would be willing to look past if it hadn't been for the ending. And that is the tone and feel that this movie was going for. At the start, I got the feeling that they were going for a Se7en type feel. But then there was a point where I feel like they decided to go with something along the lines of the Sherlock Holmes movies. Neither one was very fitting, considering that this is too intense to have the fun feel of the Sherlock Holmes movies, and it's far too silly to be in the same league as Se7en. What they should have done is go for more of a Hammer Horror Films feel to it. Kind of try to give it an old-school feeling. A good example of what I mean would be that Sleepy Hollow movie that came out years back. That was a movie that took itself seriously, but was also aware of the fact that it was silly and the people that made it looked like they were having a blast doing just that, being seriously silly. At least that's what I think it was doing, considering that movie had Hammer written all over it, people aren't really sure what that movie was going for. But anyway, if they had taken that approach, this movie could have at least been enjoyable, but it took itself seriously and thought it was something that could be taken seriously. Sorry guys, it just doesn't work out that way. I could go on about all of the historical innacuracies and the other details that were never explained or explored leading to the events of Poe's demise. I could go on about the fact that they used all of Poe's lesser known stories rather than the ones that practically defined both the genre and his career and how, even though the title is The Raven, there is little mention of the original poem and how I was hoping that they could squeeze some of that story into this movie, but if I did, this review would never end.
Honestly, I was really hoping for them to just do a biopic about Poe. You would think that would have already happened, seeing as how he was one of the most influential writers of all time and was a very interesting (to say the least) person. You could do a character study diving into his psychology and exploring the life events that troubled him so much and how that may have had an influence on his work. Come on guys! Really? After making movies like The Aviator and J. Edgar, you would think something like that would be in the works already! Whatever, I'm not bitter.
Final Grade: C-