The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: 20th Century Fox - 2012
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 110 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Starring: John Cusak, Luke Evans, Brendan Gleeson, Alice Eve, Kevin McNally
Directed by: James McTeigue
Music by: Lucas Vidal
Written by: Hannah Shakespeare & Ben Livingston
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: October 9, 2012
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.
The Raven is more or less a paint by the numbers whodunit set to an Edgar Allan Poe inspired narrative with a gory theme. The story revolves around mid eighteen hundreds Baltimore, Edgar Allan Poe, and a serial killer that uses Poe’s dark tales as inspiration (through imitation) for his murders. With the discovery of the killer’s approach a determined city police detective enlists Poe as a sort of profiler to help them nab the villain. It all hits very close to home when Poe’s intended is abducted. Her life hangs in the balance with only clues, a ticking clock and Poe’s ability to match wits with the killer standing between life and death.
I have no problem with formulaic plots however it you’re going to build the story around a figure like Edgar Allan Poe I would expect a bit more imagination, better developed characters and more engaging mystery/thrills. The element of macabre proves to be decent and as the plot thickens the pacing picks up nicely. Unfortunately the suspense is lacking and if you have ever seen a mystery of this sort you could probably pick out the villain pretty early on. I like John Cusak but I am not sure that he was the right choice to play Edgar Allan Poe. Luke Evans is spot on as the charismatic and competent Detective Fields. Brendan Gleeson was underused and Alice Eve isn’t much of an actress but handled the part fine and looked great doing so.
Removal of one’s thinking cap, looking past any attempts at historical accuracy etc, makes The Raven a more tolerable film, especially if you enjoy the genre. That is how I choose to approach it and from that perspective it’s not a terrible way to spend an evening.
The rating is for bloody violence and grisly images.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
The Raven comes to Blu-ray Disc from 20th Century Fox HE featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 32 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.8 Mbps.
This film utilizes a stylized visual design that is meant to create a period specific aesthetic to support its thematic elements. The predominating palette is limited to what appears very nearly to be black and white mixed with a little color which results in a sort of muted sepia. According secondary colors such as brown and blue are muted while grays and whites appear delineated. Looking at films from a “colorless” perspective is something that can take a little getting used. It isn’t an issue for me which allowed me to appreciate this nuanced presentation. Blacks are fairly deep, with appreciable gradations and dynamic highlights that surface when onscreen with mixed light/dark content. This is a predominantly dark film that contains many sequences shot in low lit environs and natural lighting. While there is some loss of visibility in dark backgrounds contrast and brightness levels aren’t overdriven and work in tandem to preserve detail in dark and light elements onscreen. The applied filtering and cinematography have an effect on perceived resolution however images onscreen appear lucid and sharp. Close ups reveal lots of fine detail in the faces, hair and clothing worn by the cast members. Some have expressive faces that reveal every crack, furrowed brow and wrinkle. Long range shots aren’t resolved quite as well but appear dimensionally satisfying. A light veil of grain imparts a film like texture that is never intrusive. This is an excellent high definition presentation that is revealing of the high production elements used in the film.
This is primarily a dialogue driven film however there are elements in the film that require use of the entire system so its ability to clearly render them is essential. Dialogue is reproduced with transparent realism and lucid texture as it is appropriately balanced within the front soundstage. The surround mix utilizes the entire platform to recreate the many acoustic sounds associated with the environments portrayed onscreen. The rear channels contain a mixture of spatial ambience/musical extension as well as directional panning cues that effectively support the front soundstage. This is an enriching audio presentation that mates well with the source material.
- (HD) 6 deleted scenes
- (HD) The Raven cuts: Bringing death to life – 13 minute featurette
- (HD) The madness, misery, and mystery of Edgar Allan Poe – 9 minute documentary
- (HD) Behind the beauty and horror – 2 minute featurette
- (HD) The Raven Presents John Cusak & James McTeigue – 2 minute featurette
- (HD) Music for The Raven: The Team – 5 minute featurette
- (HD) Audio commentary by director James McTeigue, producers Marc D. Evans, and Aaron Ryder
- (HD) Theatrical trailer
- Bonus DVD
- Digital Copy
The Raven is more or less a paint by the numbers whodunit set to an Edgar Allan Poe inspired narrative with a gory theme. The formulaic script won’t challenge seasoned mystery buffs and John Cusak isn’t a perfect in the lead role but removal of one’s thinking cap helps makes it more tolerable, especially if you enjoy the genre. It comes to Blu-ray Disc from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment in a well rounded offering that features excellent high definition audio/video quality and above average bonus material that provides a look behind the scenes at the production along with a brief feature on Edgar Allan Poe. The Raven isn’t great cinema but its entertaining enough to warrant a rental when you’re up for a little gory mystery/thriller on movie night.
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