It makes me sad to say it given how much I love John Cusack. It really does. But it has to be said. The Raven is a pile of crap.
Its first problem is that it is a period piece, taking place in 1849, which is always hard to do for set designers and prop people. Very few period movies have felt natural to me. There’s always something about the way that they talk, that just doesn’t feel right. You can say right words for that period, but when you say them with inflection and tone of how we speak now, it just doesn’t feel right.
The story itself is quite imaginative, but not quite enough to make me really invested in it, despite how much I love John Cusack.
Alive Eve continues to be one of my biggest celebrity crushes, but doesn’t do much for the movie or the plot. She plays the love interest of Poe (Cusack), which is hardly believable, whether or not Poe actually dated a woman who was young enough to be his daughter. (I later learned that Poe was famous for dating a relative of his, a first cousin, if I recall correctly.)
At one point, I had to stop the movie and look up whether or not it was shot in 3D, as there were a few scenes that felt very 3D to me, but alas, it was not. What I was misinterpreting as 3D filming, was simply some bad CGI (specifically “The Pit and The Pendulum” scene, if you’ve seen it, or for when you watch.)
I really wanted to like the movie, but I didn’t find myself vested in any of what was happening. Without spoiling much of things – a mysterious person is killing people and using Poe’s poems and stories as his inspiration. So the police call Poe in to help and hand him over a gun (they were very gun happy back then, apparently.) A few short chapters later, and Poe’s fiance (Emily, played by Alice Eve) is kidnapped by said killer, who then plays a very Saw-esque game with Poe and Emily’s father (Brendan Gleeson).
In the end, I’m not sure I cared about what happened. Sure, there were some cool scenes, and nice little surprise at the end. But all in all, I was almost completely indifferent as to whether or not Poe rescues Emily. It really pains me to say it, given how much I love Mr. Cusack. He just hasn’t been himself in recent years, obviously. Perhaps it’s time to get back to that sequel to Say Anything… or possibly a High Fidelity 2?
To sum up: stay away from this. Unless you have a really big thing for Edgar Allen Poe, there’s really nothing great to see here. While Cusack looks the part, he doesn’t pull off being the part, unfortunately.