Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Raven [2012]

MPAA (R)  CNS/USCCB (L)  Roger Ebert (2 Stars)  Fr. Dennis (2 Stars)

IMDb listing-
CNS/USCCB review -
Roger Ebert's review -

The Raven (directed by James McTeigue, screenplay by Ben Livingston and Hannah Shakespeare) is a film that will probably be disliked by a lot of people.

First, the writer Edgar Allen Poe [IMDb 1][2] (played by John Cusack) tended to write in a dark, macabre style.  And to be honest, I never was much of a "goth" enthusiast.  Yes, I don't mind if it's intended to be funny (like the Addams' Family, both the television series [1964-66] and the movies [1991] [1993], or The Munsters [1964] or Mel Brooks' "Young Frankenstein" [1974].  If one pushed me, something like Anthony Hopkins' and Benecio del Toro's Wolfman [2010].  But I don't particularly like the genre.

Then one gets to the writers of "Gothic fiction," I have to say that I've gotten to the point that I detest the "darker" early American writers like Nathaniel Hawthorne and, yes, Edgar Allen Poe.  And to be honest, I've come to blame it on largely _colorless_ when not outright dark/gloomy milieu that the came from 18th-18th century American Protestantism.  It may be a strange choice, but honestly give me at least the color of the Borgias over the darkness and gloom of the Salem Witch Trials.   All this is to say, if you're someone like me, who just doesn't like "Gothic" stuff, then already this movie has a strike against it.

Second, the movie here is a work of (to be kind...) "speculative fiction."  To be less kind, it approaches Edgar Allen Poe in the same way that Dan Brown approached The Vatican in Angels and Demons (book [2000], film [2009]) and Jesus / Mary Magdalene in The Da Vinci Code (book [2003], film [2006]): The premise for The Raven is set right at the beginning of the film with a caption on the screen declaring: "The last 4 days off Edgar Allen Poe's life remain shrowded in mystery."  We then see a notoriously drunk Poe sitting delirious on a park bench in Baltimore shortly before his death.

Va bene.  What follows is basically Edgar Allen Poe meets Dan's Brown's Angels and Demons [2006] crossed with Se7en [1995] where Poe is conscripted by Baltimore police led by Detective Fields (played by Luke Evans) to help them stop a serial killer who's using Edgar Allen Poe's own stories as his modus operandi.  The movie eventually involves a love interest of Poe's (played by Alice Eve) and her father (played by Brendan Gleesan).  It all spins into a fairly engaging story.  But it does require one to buy-into that initial premise that Edgar Allen Poe didn't simply (and far more probably) just drink himself to death.... 

Yes, it's all rather "creative."  Again the film follows an approach reminiscent of Dan Brown and/or perhaps the National Treasure films [2004][2007] starring Nicholas Cage.  There's also been a recent trend to spruce up "dusty classics" with the macabre, like Pride, Prejudice and Zombies coyly attributed to "by Emily Dickenson AND Seth Grahame-Smith."  To this end, I'm actually looking forward to the film coming out this summer called Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer [2012].  But I'm looking forward to that movie precisely because I know for certain that it will be wildly exaggerated nonsense.  The Raven remains at "the far edge of plausible," and that does bother me more, and I suspect will be a deal breaker to many viewers as it has been to many critics.

So The Raven appears to mate the dreariest sections of High School American Lit class (again, I really didn't/don't like Nathaniel Hawthorne or Edgar Allen Poe) with an implausible Dan Brownian plot.  As I began my review, this film is certainly "not for everybody" ....

<< NOTE - Do you like what you've been reading here?  If you do then consider giving a small donation to this Blog (sugg. $6 _non-recurring_) _every so often_ to continue/further its operation.  To donate just CLICK HERE.  Thank you! :-) >>

No comments:

Post a Comment