If not for my own perceived need to go in depth in discussing the movies I see I would just begin and end this review with one short and sweet sentence- looks good and that’s about it. So again, since I have this curse of talking at length about something I have no obligation to do so about I’m going to ramble on until I’m satisfied I’ve sufficiently beaten this horse to death.
I dig the works of Edgar Allen Poe, and I dig the idea of a film that combines his writing with a serial killer that commits his murders to the tune of Poe’s words. So why is it that THE RAVEN is so dull and joyless? The short answer would be that everyone involved seems to of had the same amount of interest in doing the film as I have writing this review. In just about any project you can find one or two that committed to what they were doing and John Cusack does just that in the lead role, but he perhaps commits a little too much to the point. More often than not he’s little more than an insane drunkard shouting obscenities at actors waking from a nap between takes.
I can summarize my overall feeling of the film’s story and acting as serviceable background noise, but then you’re missing my favorite aspect of the film which is the way it looks. The picture was crisp, the cinematography was very good and even the sound was great during some scenes. The wardrobe fit the time and they had all the tools to make this work except that nothing about the performances and story in general were spectacular or attention grabbing.
There’s an excess of CGI blood which if done well I’m not always opposed to, but here it really disconnected me from what was happening on screen. The pit and the pendulum scene would have been great minus the excessive CGI and I like to think in this day and age we have the ability to make something like that look far better than it does here. The tone of the film is dark yet the violence is framed as though we are watching a bizarro Looney Toons bit.
When all is said and done for THE RAVEN the film cannot even muster a decent twist to the mystery carrying the audience through to the end. I wish I could say I hated the film, but there is enjoyment to be had from Cusack’s over-the-top performance and a lot if the visual aspects of the film and its time period. Ideally this is a film you’d feel less cheated if you caught it while channel surfing on your couch than going out of your way to rent. Poe himself couldn’t have scripted a more ho-hum depiction of his own work.