The Raven (2012 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||James McTeigue|
|Produced by||Marc D Evans
|Written by||Ben Livingston
|Music by||Lucas Vidal|
|Edited by||Niven Howie|
|Distributed by||Relativity Media|
|Running time||111 minutes|
The Raven is a 2012 American mystery thriller film directed by James McTeigue and based on a screenplay by Ben Livingston and Hannah Shakespeare. It stars John Cusack, Alice Eve, Brendan Gleeson and Luke Evans. It was released March 9, 2012 in Canada, Ireland, the United Kingdom and the United States on April 27, 2012.
Set in 1849, it is a fictionalized account of the last days of Edgar Allan Poe's life, in which the poet and author pursues a serial killer whose murders mirror those in Poe's stories. While the plot of the film is fictional, the writers based it on some accounts of real situations surrounding Edgar Allan Poe's mysterious death. Poe is said to have repeatedly called out the name "Reynolds" on the night before his death, though it is unclear to whom he was referring. The title derives from Poe's poem "The Raven", in the similar manner of the prior unrelated 1935 and 1963 films.
Panned by critics, the film just made back its budget. The visual effects garnered praise, as did the musical score by Lucas Vidal, but reviewers criticized the various twists and turns of the plot-lines as well as the performances.
In 19th century Baltimore, Maryland, several policemen discover a murdered woman sprawled on the floor of her apartment which was locked from the inside. While police search for the killer's means of escape, they discover a second corpse in the chimney, later identified as the 12 year old daughter of the first victim. A celebrated detective, Emmett Fields, is called to assist in the investigation and discovers that the crime resembles a fictional murder in the short story "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" that he had once read.
The alcoholic writer, Edgar Allan Poe, is brought to Fields for questioning. After finding the body of a rival critic of Poe's cut in half with a pendulum (like in Poe's story "The Pit and the Pendulum"), the pair deduce that someone is copying Poe's stories. Edgar's love, Emily Hamilton, is kidnapped at a masquerade ball her father is hosting like the one described in Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death". The killer taunts Poe in a note, demanding that Edgar write and publish a new story. Poe's lodgings are burned down by people who believe he is exploiting the murders for his own journalistic ends, and he is forced to move in with Fields.
A clue from the killer referring to "The Cask of Amontillado" leads Poe and Fields to search the tunnels under the city with several policemen, discovering a walled-up corpse of a man dressed as Emily. The man is determined to be a sailor, and the clues on his body bring the pursuers to Holy Cross Church, where an empty grave with Emily's name on it has been prepared. As the police attempt to break down the church doors, the killer attacks and kills one of the policemen, then shoots and wounds Fields. Poe gives chase on horse, but the killer escapes.
Poe writes one last chapter for his newspaper column, offering his life for Emily's, suggesting that he could take a poison. In the morning, the maid gives Poe a letter from the killer, accepting his terms, but the note had been delivered long before the paper distributed. Realising the killer must work at the paper, Poe races to the newspaper office to confront his editor, Henry, but instead finds Henry already dead, with another note.
The real killer, the paper's typesetter, Ivan, appears and congratulates Poe, offering him a drink. Ivan attempts to converse with Edgar, but Poe only demands to be told of Emily's location. Ivan pours a vial of poison, promising to end the story as Poe had written, to which Poe agrees, drinking the liquid. It is revealed that Ivan's surname is 'Reynolds', and the killer quotes a line from the "Tell Tale Heart", allowing Edgar to deduce that Emily is concealed beneath the printing floor. As the killer leaves, Poe uses the last of his strength to tear up a false section of floor and open a trapdoor leading to where his fiancee is being held.
Poe rescues Emily, and they share a poignant moment before she is taken away by ambulance. Delirious from the poison, Edgar wanders off to a park bench to die. A man walking in the park recognizes him as "Edgar Poe", the famous writer, and enquires if he is alright. Poe can summon only enough strength to say, "Tell Fields his last name is Reynolds". Later, when Fields comes to view Poe's corpse at the hospital, the attending physician is unable to tell him the exact cause of death, but mentions that the writer was incoherent, insisting that "Field's last name is Reynolds". Fields ponders the meaning of the phrase, slowly connecting the dots.
Some time later, Ivan is shown disembarking a train in Paris. As a porter carries his luggage, Ivan climbs into a carriage to be confronted by Fields, revolver levelled at him. He lunges for the detective, and is immediately shot.
- John Cusack as Edgar Allan Poe
- Luke Evans as Inspector Emmett Fields
- Alice Eve as Emily Hamilton
- Brendan Gleeson as Captain Charles Hamilton
- Oliver Jackson-Cohen as PC John Cantrell
- Jimmy Yuill as Captain Eldridge
- Kevin McNally as Henry Maddux
- Sam Hazeldine as Ivan Reynolds
- Pam Ferris as Mrs. Bradley
- John Warnaby as Ludwig Griswold, a reference to Rufus Wilmot Griswold
- Brendan Coyle as Reagan
Jeremy Renner was originally going to star in the film (playing the role later taken by Luke Evans), but he dropped out so that he could star in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. Ewan McGregor was also in talks for a role, but he also dropped out. On August 28, 2010, it was confirmed that John Cusack would play Edgar Allan Poe in the film. Joaquin Phoenix was also approached to star at one point.
The filming began on November 9, 2010 in Belgrade and Budapest. The first images from the set were revealed on November 15, 2010. A trailer for the film was released online October 7, 2011. This date is significant because it also marks the anniversary of Poe's death at age 40 in 1849. In 2011 Relativity acquired U.S. rights for only $4 million.
Critical reaction to The Raven has been mostly negative. The film holds a rating of 23% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 123 reviews and a 44 on Metacritic. James Berardinelli gave the film two and a half stars out of four, writing: "The Raven looks great and is well-paced, but a lack of a compelling resolution makes it an anemic effort." Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote, "The story has its moments, and yet there is something about this tale ... that doesn't completely satisfy." Richard Roeper though gave the movie a very positive review, giving the movie a B+.
The Raven brought back its budget at the box office by grossing $29.65 million worldwide on a budget of $26 million.
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- Raven, The – Reelviews Movie Reviews
- "'The Raven' review: "Cusack inspired, movie isn't" – San Francisco Chronicle
- The Raven at the Internet Movie Database
- The Raven at Rotten Tomatoes
- The Raven at Metacritic
- The Raven at Box Office Mojo