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Merely This and Nothing More

The Raven (2012)

Larry Horricks/Universal Pictures

Once upon a meeting dreary, full of pitches weak and weary,
Comes some bright spark speaking vaguely and invoking Alan Moore.
"Dusty books can still be thrilling, old ghost stories still be chilling,
Studio can make a killing with that story in the drawer,
If we ginger up that poem which we read at school before
Where the bird says "Nevermore."

"Here's that boring dead old story and its narrative so hoary.
Empty out the richer meanings which we know most will ignore.
Take the actual breathing writer, make him something of a fighter,
With a fiancée who's lighter to get couples through the door.
Have him looking into murders drawn directly from his lore;
Watch the ticket sales soar."

So it is that Edgar Allan takes a leaf out of "From Hell" and
Prowls the Gothic streets of somewhere not a lot like Baltimore.
Watch a cast of worthy others fight a script that nearly smothers
And look out for one another in the face of gloom galore,
While a marketing decision puts some Fender on the score —
That it's best to just ignore.

See, John Cusack still looks sprightly and a few times even might be
Thinking back to good old days when acting never seemed a chore.
True that others seem more weary; Alice Eve is stuck with teary
Business only there to merely push her cleavage to the fore,
Gently tending screen charisma surely destined for much more,
Looking glam under the gore.

Neither dreck nor very mighty, just a film that quite politely
Works its pseudo-Gothic schtick until the thing can work no more.
But the next time in a meeting some bright spark pipes up with fleeting
Thoughts of riches beyond meaning from updating works of yore,
With the name of Robert Downey very likely to the fore,
Show the gentleman the door.


Opens on March 9 in the United Kingdom and on April 27 in the United States.

Directed by James McTeigue; written by Hannah Shakespeare and Ben Livingston; director of photography, Danny Ruhlmann; edited by Niven Howie; music by Lucas Vidal; production design by Roger Ford; costumes by Carlo Poggioli; produced by Marc D. Evans, Trevor Macy and Aaron Ryder; released by Universal Pictures (United Kingdom) and Relativity Media (United States). Running time: 1 hour 50 minutes. This film is rated 15 by B.B.F.C. and R by M.P.A.A.

WITH: John Cusack (Edgar Allan Poe), Luke Evans (Detective Emmett Fields), Alice Eve (Emily Hamilton), Brendan Gleeson (Capt. Charles Hamilton), Kevin R. McNally (Henry Maddox), Oliver Jackson-Cohen (Officer Cantrell) and Jimmy Yuill (Captain Eldridge).


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