Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Raven (R/110 Min.)

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I got up this morning to go see Dark Shadows and when that was over I said to myself, “Self! Let’s go see another movie!” So I chose The Raven. I really really REALLY need to quit talking to myself. Or listening to myself. One or the other. Is it rude to say that a movie is tedious? Yes? Okay then. I won’t. But it wasn’t good. Apparently word has gotten out about how not good it is as I was the only person in the theater. So not cool.

The Raven is a fictional recounting of Edgar Allan Poe’s final days. It is said that just before he died Poe disappeared for five days. No one ever knew where he had gone and no one ever knew what caused his death. In this telling, three people have been murdered using methods described in Poe’s literary works. Soon after, Poe’s fiancée, Emily, is kidnapped from her birthday ball. She will be killed unless Poe publishes a story in the newspaper every day. While this is happening, other people are murdered and clues are left behind to lead the police and Poe to Emily.

One of the few things I liked about The Raven is that it romanticizes Poe’s death. It gives it meaning and we, as the audience, were allowed to see how he died. If fictionally anyway. This had the opportunity to be a really good movie. It was not. Had this been one of my pre-screenings I might have been compelled to walk out. Though if I didn’t walk out on Jack and Jill I probably won’t walk out on anything. I had paid for this so I decided to see it through. I wish I was able to tell you exactly what was wrong with it. It had all the components of a hit. There was action, mystery, murder, romance, John Cusack. So, why was it a miss?

I’m not quite sure how I thought this was going to play out but the murders did not go as I had imagined. You know what I mean. You know that someone is going to die and how they’re going to die and you might even hear them die but you only see it as a shadow on the wall or not at all. Not so here. Having said that and thinking back to the murders I realize that I only saw two as they happened. They must have been emblazoned in my memory never to be removed. Please be warned, this review is going to have several spoilers. I would worry about them more if I weren’t trying to encourage people not to see it.

The first murder I was “allowed” to watch involved The Pit and the Pendulum. I remember from reading that work long ago that I imagined it as a death by fractions of an inch. A very slow, painful, nay, agonizing death. It looked agonizing all right but, thankfully, it wasn’t as slow as I imagined. I think the pendulum had around 6 swings before it got stuck. Yuck. I actually sucked in my breath after the initial cut thinking, “Wow! That must’ve hurt!” Thank you, Princess Understatement. They were all about the blood spurting and the victim gurgling too. It was tres gross.

The other murder I got to see was not premeditated on the part of the serial killer. He cut someone’s throat open and the nice movie makers made sure to make that as yucky as possible.

Now, let’s talk about Emily a little bit. I liked her. She didn’t wait around for help but tried to get herself out of her predicament. I know you’re thinking, “Hoorah. Big whoop.” Well, it was a big whoop. All I could think when she was working her way out of where she was being held was that the bad guy could be standing right there waiting to do something even worse. But, what do you do? Sit there and hope someone will save you or take the chance to get your own tuckus out of trouble? And speaking of…when she managed to scrape away enough of a space to see out and she saw her captor’s mouth it was NOT the mouth of the guy who put her there. If any of you decide to see this despite my warnings let me know if I’m right or not. I’m pretty sure I am but I have been accused of being wrong before. The man whose mouth it more closely resembles is a good guy. And they even do a close-up of his mouth. I think this was one of those let’s-try-to-make-them-think-it’s-someone-else-first kind of deals. Like in Gone. What was highly frustrating is the person who dunnit isn’t seen enough to give you the impression that he had anything to do with it. Wow. You guys sure were sneaky with that one. No amount of intelligence would have enabled the audience to predict who the bad guy was. The angle on her view of the room was wrong too. She was laying down but it made it seem as if she was standing up. Who edited this?

Let’s talk a little bit about some other things I liked. The costumes were well done. Especially at the masked ball. I would love to have a mask such as the one Emily wore. Okay. That’s all I could think of that I liked. I’m going to take a second and hop over to read some other reviews. I’m back. And I’m relieved. Even the critics from some of the big papers found The Raven less than satisfying. So it isn’t just me. Yea!

I’m not going to bother with other character endorsements as I felt everything about this film pretty much fell flat including the acting. I just don’t get it. This should have been so much better. I would have loved to have seen this had Guy Ritchie been at the helm. He proved twice-over with the Sherlock Holmes movies that he is more than capable of directing a film not of this time. I like talking old-worldy and tend to do so after seeing movies like this. Can’t help it.

Since this movie is rated R and obviously not for children, I’m not going to break it down. People die, it’s gross, don’t take your kids to see this with you. Speaking of dying…I am apparently not as big a Poe fan as I had previously thought. In one of the scenes I saw the marker for an empty grave that they were supposed to find during the search for Emily. It had her name and a date written on it. The date? October 7, 1849. Wanna guess the relevance? That was the day Poe died. You knew I was leading up to that, didn’t you.

I cannot recommend this film to anyone. Not even Poe fans. Especially not Poe fans. I don’t think it would live up to their or anyone’s expectations. I am very disappointed for John Cusack. He deserved so much better than that.

To end on an even more disappointing note, what on earth were they thinking with the credits? It was very James Bond and took us to a completely different time. Don’t do that. It’s bewildering to say the least. The computer graphics were so definitely out of place here. Having suffered through all that I found that there was nothing after the credits. This was somewhat predictable as the ending of the film left it so that there couldn’t be a sequel unless Poe passed the torch on to someone else. Oh please say he didn’t.

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