Director - James McTeigue
Cast - John Cusack, Alice Eve
Country of Origin - USA
Discs - 1
Distributor - MGM/20th Century Fox
Reviewer - Scott MacDonald
Date - 10/28/12
The Film (3/5)
I will admit I enjoyed James McTeigue's the Raven much more than I expected. I knew going in that it didn't have the greatest of reputations going into it, so I tempered my expectations for the film, and also considered it 2 things. 1) A work of speculative fiction that has no semblance of reality tied to it. I've heard a lot of complaints from Poe-aficionados about how it treats the details of his life, and I've decided to consider the Raven a mix of speculative fiction, and a film with a character who happens to be a dark poet named Edgar Allen Poe. 2) After a few minutes of watching it occurred to me that this is 20th Century Fox's Modern version of a B-Movie, albeit with an enormous budget. This is not a film to be taken overly seriously, as such is the 2nd Poe inspired film titled the Raven (The first being the Corman/Price version) that decided to just go off the rails with it's material.
The Raven feels like it's working within the template cast by Guy Ritchie's recent Sherlock Holmes films. No, Poe never becomes a bare knuckle boxer, but the visual style from director McTeigue certainly does have a similar visual imprint on it. Considering the success of those 2 films, I'm fairly certain this was intentional, although it could be said that due to being set in similar eras in locations which have similar traits overlapping stylistic choices are certainly inevitable.
The film stars John Cusack as Edgar Allan Poe. As the film begins a series of murders are being committed just as Poe has returned to this home town of Baltimore, MD. These murders duplicate various murders from Poe's famous literary works, and as such the police make him their initial primary suspect. After his "one true love" Emily is kidnapped by the real murderer Poe and the Baltimore police force join together to discover the identity of the killer before he proceeds to kill Emily.
The film also happens to occur during Poe's final days trying to give some explanation to what happened to Edgar after he disappeared prior to his untimely death. As participating in a massive murder investigation based on one's own literary work is a fairly notable thing to be doing, while having been out of public sight this is a fairly major plot hole, but as stated in the opening to really enjoy this you really have to consider it as a B-Movie work of heavy speculative fiction.
20th Century Fox has presented the Raven in a excellent 2:40:1 1080p AVC encoded transfer. This transfer does a fantastic job of representing the overall look of the film which is quite dark and grimy. What colors their are reproduce quite well, and the black levels are solid and deep. The flesh tones are largely accurate, and due to it's 35mm nature there is a nice healthy level of film grain present on the transfer.
The Raven has been offered with a similarly nice DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track in English. This track is quite good, dialogue is crisp and clean throughout, effects are reproduced nicely, and music comes through loud and clear. I did not detect any sort of pops, cracks, or hissing anywhere on the track.
Fox has put together a nice package of extras together for their release of the Raven. It kicks off with a commentary from director James McTeigue sitting alongside the films producers. We then have a 13 minute behind the scenes featurette on the film, and a roughly 10 minute piece on Poe's life. We also are treated to about 10 minutes of deleted an extended scenes. the disc is rounded off with an interview by John Cusack with James McTeigue about the film, a 2 minute short featurette about the film, and a roughly 10 minute documentary about the films composers.
A decent movie if you go in with tempered expectations. The Raven is a rather enjoyable piece of B-Movie fluff from Fox. The Blu-ray looks and sounds fantastic, and they've included a decent slate of extras on this release. Recommended.