It’s a busy, busy week for new releases on DVD & Blu-Ray at video stores and retailers from one end of our great country to another are reloading their shelves with a wide array of new releases from all across the land. Out today on DVD & Blu-Ray Combo pack from our friends at VVS films is a thriller inspired by the final days of the literary giant Edgar Allen Poe as he tries to solve a series of murder’s inspired by his own work. It’s time for “The Raven”.
Starring John Cusack, Alice Eve and Luke Evans
Directed by James McTeigue
In “The Raven” when a mother and daughter are found brutally murdered in 19th century Baltimore, Detective Emmett Fields (Evans) makes a startling discovery: the crime resembles a fictional murder described in gory detail in the local newspaper as a part of a collection of stories penned by struggling writer and social pariah Edgar Allan Poe (Cusack). However while Poe is questioned by police, another grisly murder occurs, also inspired by a popular Poe story. Realizing a serial killer is on the loose using Poe’s writings as the backdrop for his bloody rampage, Fields enlists the author’s help in stopping the attacks, but when it appears someone close to Poe may become the murderer’s next victim, the stakes become even higher and the inventor of the detective story calls on his own powers of deduction to try to solve the case before it’s too late.
As his follow up to the underwhelming “Ninja Assassin”, director James McTeigue has delivered an entertaining entry into the serial killer genre of thrillers that follows through with some great moments but also has some flaws. Leaning very heavily on gothic horror themes throughout the film, it looks great and the story and action moves at a brisk pace for some fun period piece action as we run through the streets of Baltimore however towards the end of the third act of the film, the story falls apart as it looks for an ending. It almost felt like somebody hit the brakes suddenly on the narrative and rather than allowing for a natural organic build to a finish instead we got a fast, thrilling ride that fell a little flat by the end. Still a very fun nod to the art of storytelling that comes alive and was really quite a good character study because we get so invested with the character of Edgar Allen Poe thanks to a scene stealing performance from John Cusack.
Cusack as Edgar Allen Poe as the preening, pompous writer was highly entertaining as he chewed the scenery and tore into the role with a great deal of enthusiasm, it has been quite some time since we’ve seen that from Cusack as he channeled his inner manic Nicolas Cage going all out and having a great time doing it. Luke Evans has the leading man look and charisma and does well as Detective Fields and could be carving out a niche for himself as that leading man in waiting. The interplay between Cusack and Evans played out very well as an almost prequel the wide array of crime procedurals that we see on TV every single day. Alice Eve didn’t get a lot to do as the love interest but there were a few other familiar faces that popped up in “The Raven” including Brendan Gleeson & Kevin McNally that gave the film a legitimately fun, B-Movie thriller feel to the entire proceedings.
The picture and the sound quality on the Blu-Ray were first rate as per the norm and the special features on this Combo Pack includes Deleted and Extended Scenes, a feature length commentary track featuring the director and producer of the film along with five different behind the scenes featurettes going into detail about the production of the film and the mystery surrounding the man that was Edgar Allen Poe as well as the theatrical trailer.
On second viewing, “The Raven” actually works a little better for this critic because while the ending was still a little unsatisfying we get so invested in Cusack’s portrayal of the famed writer that we actually get more enthralled with him as a character then with the action surrounding him. Worth the time to watch it if only to see Cusack effortlessly command the screen and fun doing it.
4 out of 5 stars.
“The Raven” is now available for rent on DVD & Blu-Ray at video stores across the country; you can also find it for purchase at all major retailers like amazon.ca or HMV.
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