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James McTeigue
John Cusack, Luke Evans, Alice Eve, Brendan Gleeson, Kevin McNally, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Jimmy Yuill
Writing Credits:
Ben Livingston, Hannah Shakespeare

The only one who can stop a serial killer is the man who inspired him.

John Cusack and Luke Evans star in this blood-curdling tale of terror that's as dark and haunting as the legendary master of the macabre who inspired it - Edgar Allan Poe. Baltimore, 1849. While investigating a horrific double murder, police detective Emmett Fields (Evans) makes a startling discovery: the killer's methods mirror the twisted writings of Edgar Allan Poe (Cusack). Suspecting Poe at first, Fields ultimately enlists his help to stop future attacks. But in this deadly game of cat and mouse, the stakes are raised with each gruesome slaying as the pair races to catch a madman before he brings every one of Poe's shocking stories to chilling life ... and death.

Box Office:
$26 million.
Opening Weekend
$7.289 million on 2203 screens.
Domestic Gross
$16.008 million.

Rated PG-13

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 110 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 10/9/2012

• Audio Commentary with Director James McTeigue and Producers Marc D. Evans, Trevor Macy and Aaron Ryder
• Six Deleted and Extended Scenes
• “The Raven Guts: Bringing Death to Life” Featurette
• “The Madness, Misery and Mystery of Edgar Allan Poe” Featurette
• “Behind the Beauty and the Horror” Featurette
• “The Raven Presents John Cusack and James McTeigue” Featurette
• “Music for The Raven: The Team” Featurette
• Trailer
• Sneak Peeks
• DVD Copy
• Digital Copy


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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The Raven [Blu-Ray] (2012)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 11, 2012)

Based on the Edgar Allan Poe classic, 2012’s The Raven takes us to Baltimore circa 1849 and claims to show us the final days of the writer’s (John Cusack) life. A serial killer stalks the city, but this is not just any standard-issue psycho. No, this one uses Poe’s stories as the template for his murders and makes them resemble the situations in the author’s works.

Because of this, the police – led by Detective Fields (Luke Evans) – bring in Poe for a talk. Initially a suspect, Fields quickly rules out Poe as the murderer but figures that the author can use his expertise to help them solve the crime. Poe and Fields team up to stop the serial killer, a task that becomes personal when Poe’s fiancée Emily (Alice Eve) goes missing.

When I stated that the film was based on Poe’s 1845 poem, I should’ve noted that it was based loosely on The Raven - very, very loosely. In truth, the story has no more to do with the film than any number of other Poe efforts, all of which are grist for the murderous mill. I suspect the producers called the film The Raven solely for name recognition, as the flick enjoys precious little connection to that text.

If you wanted to find a more direct inspiration for the cinematic Raven, I think you’d want to go back to 1995 and bring up Se7en. I think the Fincher classic is the granddaddy of the modern “gimmicky serial killer” movie, though Raven doesn’t even vaguely approach the greatness achieved 17 years ago.

Indeed, it accomplishes no form of greatness at all – or even “pretty goodness”. I do like the concept, as I think the idea of Poe involved in real-life murders boasts cleverness and potential.

Unfortunately, Raven follows such a “paint by numbers” narrative that it never comes to life. The murders and the investigation all feel predictable and trite, and characters lack much breadth. Emily exists for no reason other than as a plot device; she’s there for no solely to be put in harm’s way. The script even telegraphs this notion with lines such as “she’s so wonderfully full of life”; it can come up with no logical need for Emily outside of her purpose as a carrot to motivate Poe.

Director James McTeigue shows little confidence in the material. This means he uses a variety of frantic cinematic techniques to attempt to communicate a sense of urgency. These don’t work; the movie remains lethargic and without any real drama or terror.

At least Cusack does a pretty good job playing against type. He makes Poe a surprisingly three-dimensional character, as he brings out ego, self-loathing, romance, intelligence and pathos in the part. He can’t quite redeem the rest of the flick, but at least he adds some depth to the proceedings.

Too bad he’s stuck in such a dull affair. In truth, Raven isn’t a terrible movie – it’s just an ordinary one. Outside of its clever concept, it offers nothing to make it stand out from a slew of other serial killer films.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus B

The Raven appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. This became a consistently appealing presentation.

Sharpness was always positive. Little to no softness interfered, as the flick always seemed well-defined. I saw no issues with jaggies or moiré effects, and edge haloes failed to appear. Source flaws were non-existent.

In terms of palette, Raven stayed with a decidedly subdued set of colors. Only a few shots boasted any moderately vivid tones – usually via blood reds - as these were rare. Otherwise, this was essentially a monochromatic, grayish affair. Blacks were dark and dense, while shadows were fairly clear and concise; a few low-light shots came across as a little flat, but those weren’t the rule. Overall, this was an attractive image.

I also felt reasonably impressed by the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Raven. The soundfield created a pretty good sense of place and threw out natural action when appropriate. Music always offered good stereo imaging, and various scenes were consistently convincing. Not a lot of aural fireworks occurred, so the movie didn’t offer many sequences with great activity, but it used the channels in a convincing, involving manner.

Audio quality always seemed fine. Effects were dynamic and clear, with deep bass and good punch. Music showed similar strengths, as the score was lively and full. Speech came across as natural and concise. For the most part, I liked this track and thought it added to the movie

We find a pretty good set of supplements here. These open with an audio commentary from director James McTeigue and producers Marc D. Evans, Trevor Macy and Aaron Ryder. All four sit together for this running, screen-specific look at music, script/story/character issues, cast and performances, sets and locations, various effects, aspects of Poe's life and work, and some other areas.

Though never a great commentary, this does remain a consistently good discussion. We get a nice overview of various subjects, and the participants mix together well; expect a fair amount of humor along the way. At times, McTeigue tends to simply narrate the movie, but that’s not prevalent enough to cause harm to an otherwise informative track.

Six Deleted and Extended Scenes fill 10 minutes, 41 seconds. We find “Poetry Reading” (1:58), “The Red Mask” (0:41), “Emily’s Recital” (0:44), “Fields Checks on Poe” (4:31), “Poe Brings Carl to Fields’ Home” (1:39) and “Doctor Clements and Fields” (1:02). Extensions dominate the clips, and the majority give us decidedly minor additions. “Checks” does deliver a little bonding between Poe and Fields, and “Clements” provides a smidgen more intrigue, but overall, these are forgettable sequences.

Five featurettes follow. The Raven Guts: Bringing Death to Life goes for 13 minutes, 32 seconds and includes notes from McTeigue, Ryder, Evans, screenwriters Ben Livingston and Hannah Shakespeare, director of photography Danny Ruhlmann, production designer Roger Ford, key hair/makeup designer Daniel Parker, costume designer Carlo Poggioli, and actors Alice Eve, Luke Evans, John Cusack, Oliver Jackson-Cohen and Brendan Gleeson. “Guts” looks at story/characters, cast and performances, McTeigue’s impact on the production, sets/locations and period elements, visual design and camerawork, and costumes.

For the most part, “Guts” brings us a standard promotional featurette. It throws out a few interesting tidbits – mainly during its second half, when it gets into some nuts and bolts – but it exists to sell the movie. It’s watchable but nothing more.

With the nine-minute, 50-second The Madness, Misery and Mystery of Edgar Allan Poe, we hear from Livingston, Shakespeare, Edgar Allan Poe Museum curator Chris Semtner and St. Christopher’s School Writer in Residence Ron Smith. They give us a quick biography of Poe. Obviously such a short piece can’t dig into Poe’s life in detail, but this acts as a good, quick summary.

Next comes Behind the Beauty and the Horror. It goes for two minutes, 18 seconds and includes McTeigue, Evans, Cusack, and Eve. They throw out some movie basics in this forgettable puff piece.

The Raven Presents John Cusack and James McTeigue occupies two minutes, 45 seconds with a chat between McTeigue and Cusack. They go into a few production/character/story basics. The format makes it a little more interesting than it otherwise might’ve been, but it’s too short to do much.

Finally, we go to the five-minute, 10-second Music for The Raven: The Team. It gives us info from McTeigue, Evans, music editor Del Spiva, supervising orchestrator Rick Giovinazzo, Auricle user Ellen Segal, sound mixer Steve Kempster, Protools operator Larry Mah, and composer Lucas Vidal. As expected, the dig into the movie’s music. This becomes a short but tight featurette.

The disc opens with ads for House at the End of the Street and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. These also appear under Sneak Peek along with clips for Sound of My Voice, Act of Valor and American Horror Story Season One. We also find the trailer for The Raven.

A second disc provides a DVD Copy and a Digital Copy of Raven. This gives you a movie-only version of the film, so don’t expect any extras.

Though it comes with an intriguing twist, The Raven does little to surpass other serial killer movies. Except for the quirk of its lead character, the movie seems predictable and “standard issue”. The Blu-ray comes with solid picture quality as well as very good audio and a nice selection of bonus materials. The Blu-ray represents the film well, but the flick itself does little for me.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.0789 Stars Number of Votes: 38
35 3:
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