As a literary historian, the CusackPoe Raven was an unmitigated disaster, trotting out the same old drunk, drug-addled madman Poe that has bedeviled pop culture for far too long. It's not even bold anymore. It's just boring. And to make him a loser, to boot, in amystery thriller, just adds further insult to injury.
But that's the review of a literary historian, someone with a serious investment in the way Poe is received and read by culture. Does that mean the entire movie is bad? Well, while I don't think the movie is very good on it's own terms (the worst of its faults is the killer CusackPoe is trying to stop), there were some things I did enjoy.
1) The pet raccoon, Karl, to whom Poe feeds a human heart. If you're going to reinvent a literary character, go bold. And this is such a bizarre choice that I have to say, well done. I wish the real Poe had a pet raccoon named Karl. I would talk about that in every Poe lecture I gave. And then, CusackPoe has a human heart he's been scientifically dissecting and allows Karl to to eat it. I love that!
2) The music in the film was thrilling.
3) I thought Luke Evans as Inspector Fields was excellent. For me, the best performance in the film. I wish this film was just a 19th century murder mystery with Evans tracking down the killer. I would have enjoyed that much more.
4) Watching the murders from Poe's stories come to life was exciting. I've read some other reviews that slammed the film's use of CGI, but I didn't notice during these scenes. Watching the pendulum blade slice up the victim and being in the room where the women in Murders in the Rue Morgue are killed is lots of fun.
5) Alice Eve is hot.
6) CusackPoe complaining about Longfellow. That was a nice touch in the film that other lit historians and scholars will enjoy. Also, the victim of the pendulum blade (whom I won't name so as not to spoil the fun) was an apt choice for the film and serves as a kind of in-joke (however, in my view of the movie, it's also an ironic choice).