Movie Review: ‘The Raven’ - More Pulp Fiction Than Macabre Masterpiece
Is “The Raven” just a diversion and nothing more?
A serial murderer is on the loose and is drawing his inspiration from none other than gothic horror writer Edgar Allen Poe in “The Raven.”
John Cusack stars as the famous American writer. He joins forces with police in an effort to get inside the killer’s mind and keep his own love from becoming a target for murder.
Los Angeles Times film critic Betsy Sharkey describes “The Raven” as “More pulp fiction than macabre masterpiece” but gives the screenwriters credit for “a nifty idea.”
“When one scene features Poe holding a reading for some of the city's bookish bunch, it is a reminder of just how powerful his prose could be,” Sharkey wrote. " ‘The Raven,’ in contrast, has some momentary flourishes and a few harrowing moments, but nothing to tie things together with all the fear and loathing that made the author such an original.”
John DeFore of The Columbus Dispatch agreed the idea behind the movie was good, but said the film itself is too contemporary.
“Its unconvincing dialogue makes little attempt to capture the idiom of Poe. Like the recent Sherlock Holmes films, 'The Raven' seems content to steal the name of a famous figure and leave authenticity to the set and costume designers,” DeFore wrote.
Here’s what other critics had to say about “The Raven”:
What would Edgar Allan Poe be doing if he were alive today? Clawing at the inside of his coffin, desperate to get at the people who used and abused his diabolical tales as the basis for this pile of cinematic bird poo. – The Associated Press
Showcasing John Cusack as Edgar Allan Poe on the trail of a copycat serial killer, the strangely dull new film "The Raven" squanders a promising scenario while half-burying Cusack's mercurial skills as a leading man with the wiles of a character actor. – Michael Phillips, The Chicago Tribune
Ben Livingston and Hannah Shakespeare’s original screenplay is reasonably clever, and director James McTeigue (V for Vendetta) keeps the action moving at a brisk pace. But the dark-hued film is so grisly and unpleasant that when the mystery is finally solved, the only satisfaction derives from knowing that it’s over. – Leonard Maltin, Indiewire
“The Raven” is rated R.
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