"It is more than probable that I am not understood," Edgar Allen Poe wrote. Although he wasn't talking about himself at the time, he might as well have been, because this movie didn't capture his essence at all. Since I can't blame any one factor for that, I'll just blame all of them. This movie, which should have been Sherlock Holmes for the goth set, is sadder than a pale Morrissey fan wearing a leather trench coat waiting for the bus on a hot summer day.
Director James McTeigue gave us a bald Natalie Portman and naughty Hugo Weaving in V for Vendetta--but all I remember about that movie is that it was pretty forgettable. In the same spirit, The Raven never picks a direction and sticks to it. Is it a period piece with bullet time, a horror movie or an action film? Just because you color-correct a movie to look spooky doesn't automatically make me shiver. Its lack of coherence is also reflected in the script.
Edgar Allen Poe (John Cusack) is a drunken, belligerent writer who causes trouble everywhere he goes. He's not charming in how fringe he acts--he pokes dead animals in the street, breaks glass any chance he gets, and rages about Longfellow being a hack when his work isn't getting enough attention. On paper, that seems kind of hilarious and endearing in that Opposite Day kind of way, but trust me--it isn't. Inexplicably, Emily Hamilton (Alice Eve) has fallen in love with him, but her father (Brendan Gleeson), a smart, perceptive man, hates Poe. In the ultimate ego stroke, a murderer begins imitating Poe's stories, and when Emily is kidnapped, only Poe knows how to save her. But even then, he's still obnoxious. Just because you're endeavoring to save a pretty girl doesn't make me like you more. Sorry, John.
This isn't a bad concept. It's like Sleepy Hollow meets The Dark Half. Unfortunately, the building blocks weren't in place and even the acting is deplorable. Luke Evans, aka "Is that...? Oh no it isn't Orlando Bloom," plays Detective Fields, who loses his accent and makes completely bizarre decisions in his lousy police work. I couldn't ever clearly see the connections that they were making, and without understanding that, their next move seemed random. This is a caper that has no tension, mystery, or compelling plot points. Oh, it does have plenty of terrible CG blood, though.
The minute the movie began, I had a psychic flash that this was going to be like From Hell but with a telltale heart somewhere. It was an apt comparison, because that movie couldn't do Bloody but Jolly Old England either. What ended up onscreen seems like people had read the CliffsNotes of Poe's stories and then shoehorned it into something that might spawn sequels. No such luck…I hope.