Sunday, 14 April 2013

The Raven (2012)

The Raven, not just the brand of hair dye employed by John Cusack.

God this is a really poor film. As an idea its sound enough but it's so underwhelmingly explored, marred by a truly atrocious script and some poor leads. 

Cusack has always walked a fine line between cool and likeable and downright irritating, but never more (no, that's not a pun) than he is here as Poe in what is essentially his 'Look at me, I can do that Johnny Depp shit too' role.  Likewise we have the major mistake of casting Alice Eve as his leading lady; a woman who simply CANNOT ACT. She had shown some mild promise in light BBC drama and small Brit flicks in her early twenties but now  in her early 30s (15 yrs Cusack's junior) and relocated to Hollywood, she is utterly dire. A supercillious plank of wood relying on her looks alone.

Only Luke Evans holds some (minor) appeal having hurriedly replaced the slated Jeremy Renner in the role of the policeman Fields (Renner wisely fleeing this for Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol instead) It's a small flicker of quality amidst a supporting cast of faint glimmers from the normally reliable Brendan Gleeson and Kevin McNally who are all too sadly wasted. Indeed McNally seems to be tipping the wink to the audience that his old Pirates colleague Depp has done this kind of film many times over. And that's where this ultimately fails, because you've seen this film a dozen times before, and done considerably better. Even before the closing titles appeared I predicted a rocky score, and sure enough I was right. It's all dark, gloom, gore and alcohol; a thriller for the emo generation in which everyone whispers and growls their lines earnestly as if playing something as weighty a Shakespeare tragedy. They're not, they're playing an absolute piece of unmitigated hoary old hokum. And not even the good kind. In fact I think what is most insulting about this is the fact that it seemingly has no understanding of Edgar Allan Poe's literary genius at all, therefore the recreation of the horrors from his rich imagination are empty, hollow and ill conceived when they should be the film's strongest point.

There's a line in the film 'It's a masterpiece Mr Poe, an epitaph worthy of your gifts' Well this certainly isn't!

Do yourself a favour, watch From Hell, Sleepy Hollow or better still any of the Roger Corman Poe adaptations with the joyous Vincent Price instead.

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