The Raven

[3.5 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

We've had plenty of examples where the Netflix algorithm significantly overestimated how much I'd like a movie; this is an example of things working the other way. Netfix thought I'd hate it (predicting 2.3 stars, which is pretty bad). It also had mediocre box-office performance. But I thought it was a bit better than OK.

Maybe I'm just in a good mood these days.

It's set in 1849 gloomy Baltimore (but filmed mostly in gloomy present-day Serbia). Edgar Allen Poe—no spoilers here if you know your history—is approaching the end of his life. For the purposes of the movie, nearly everything else is fictionalized: Poe is working for a newspaper, a job he hates. He drinks way too much, and is arrogant about his long-in-the-past literary career. But he's in love with young and beautiful Emily Hamilton (Alice Lee, who we just saw as Dr. Carol Marcus in Star Trek).

Unfortunately, a homicidal madman is on the loose, and he's staging his murders to resemble those from Poe's works. (The movie is rated R for all the grisliness; for example, "The Pit and the Pendulum" works out less well for the movie's victim than in Poe's original version.) Poe is roped into the investigation, but it's always a few steps behind the bad guy.

All in all, a decent mystery/thriller. John Cusack does a fine job playing Poe. A fine supporting cast too, including a too-brief appearance by Brendan Coyle, Bates from Downton Abbey, as a totally convincing bartender.


Last Modified 2013-06-19 9:07 AM EDT