The Raven (2012)


I’d Rather Stand.  It Makes it Easier to Leave!

The Raven (2012)The October Horrorthon causes me to do a lot of random movie watching, usually with random jaunts through the Netflix instant library.  That’s what happened with today’s movie.  Oh, I was aware of it, but there was no interest on my part.  I’d seen nothing of interest related to it, and the 23% it landed on Rotten Tomatoes certainly wouldn’t improve that.  But what would my October Horrorthon be without at least SOME crappy movies, right?  And I could at least say I was interested in the subject matter of the movie since it’s vaguely about the only poet I like.  So let’s talk about The Raven, written by Ben Livingston and Hannah Shakespeare, directed by James McTeigue, and starring John Cusack, Luke Evans, Alice Eve, Sam Hazeldine, Brendan Gleeson, and Kevin McNally.

Inspector Emmett Fields (Luke Evans) investigates a series of murders that eerily resemble a short story called “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” by Edgar Allan Poe (John Cusack).  After later finding the body of one of Poe’s rivals cut in half in reference to “The Pit and the Pendulum,” Poe is brought in for questioning.  Together Poe and Fields decide that someone is copying Poe’s stories, but the reason is unclear.  Poe becomes involved when his fiancée Emily Hamilton (Alice Eve) is kidnapped and the note left in her place demands that Poe publish a new story else her death be on his head.

Oh my God!  The story of this movie was so good it was Shakespearean!  …But only because that was one of the writer’s last names.  This movie was not very good, and really all parts of the movie contributed to it.  It wasn’t written well, it didn’t look good, and the performances were lackluster.  When I started watching this movie I was wondering if I should’ve brushed up on my Edgar Allan Poe beforehand.  The only ones I could remember were the one about the bird, the one about the heart, and the one about the cask of booze.  After watching the movie, I felt like I probably should’ve brushed up on my Seven, because this movie seemed like it really wanted to be that movie.  It has a lot of elaborate deaths based on books and a mystery that turns out to be a guy you wouldn’t really expect, but that’s about as close as those comparisons go.  For instance, Seven was good.  This movie drops lines like, “Shut it or I’ll shut it for you,” from the killer.  Y’know, for someone that reveres Poe’s works so much, you really haven’t mastered his ability with the English language.  And it didn’t really turn out to be too necessary to remember Poe since they did only a few of his greatest hits.  “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” “The Pit and the Pendulum,” there were some Ravens flying around, and there was someone buried in a wall.  At a certain point the killer loses his flair for the dramatic and just starts killing people in more conventional ways.  I don’t think Poe wrote that many books with things as mundane as slitting the neck of a policeman and shooting another in the arm.  Did you waste all your money on that elaborate pendulum gag?

Speaking of which, I found myself wishing the movie had spent even a portion of the money they must’ve used making that pendulum device on special effects.  The pendulum thing looked fairly cool, but then it hit the body at the bottom and sprayed some of the fakest blood computers can make.  I guess they did alright with some of the cadavers, but it seems like almost any movie can pull those off nowadays.

None of the performances seemed that interested in participating with the movie.  I can’t really blame them.  John Cusack kind of mailed the whole thing in.  Who knows?  Maybe he did a lot of research and that’s how Poe actually acted.  I would’ve always thought that Poe was smart enough to not draw the conclusion that he should feel in any way responsible for these deaths.  You just wrote some poems!  If someone starts killing people based on my reviews, I’m not going to feel like their blood is on my hands.  I mean, I’m not saying that they should kill Kristen Stewart or Miley Cyrus or anything, but if they did the world would keep turning, you know what I’m saying?  And I certainly wouldn’t feel bad about it.  If they police came to me about it, I suppose I could be persuaded to stop writing for a time, but really this is their responsibility to catch the murderer.  Let’s not drag me into this game.  Luke Evans did okay as the policeman that was working with Poe, and he should definitely be given credit for being able to link the girl stuffed in a chimney to “The Murders in the Rue Morgue.”  I barely remember that story so I would automatically start looking for a jolly fat man in a red suit with cherry blossoms on his cheeks and blood on his hands if I found a chick stuffed in a chimney.  Also, that scene was shortly after a police officer opened fire on a closet while still in the process of opening it.  I know you think there’s a killer in there, but what about the possibility that there’s a scared girl cowering in there.  Look first, and then shoot.  There’s a novel idea.

I could see no better way to remember Edgar Allan Poe than to review a movie about him on the anniversary of his death (Not the day this comes out, but the day I’m writing it).  Perhaps I could’ve selected a good movie in honor of him, but I chose The Raven instead.  It may really want to be Seven, but it’s more like a two and a half.  Not a fitting remembrance for the man, but it was all I had.  I would not recommend you bother watching this movie, and I would say that chances are you haven’t.  The Raven gets “That’s life, isn’t it?  So much less satisfying than fiction” out of “The last days of his life remain a mystery.”

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Hot Tub Time Machine (2010)


I have not often seen a movie as polarizing amongst the people I know as Hot Tub Time Machine, starring John Cusack, Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson, and Clark Duke.  I know probably equal parts people who thought it was stupid and people who thought it was hilarious.  Lets find out what I think.  Join me, won’t you?

Hot Tub Time Machine is the story of 3 friends who have grown apart in their adult life.  Craig Robinson is a former musician that now picks BMW keys out of dogs asses for Lt. Jim Dangle.  John Cusack has just been dumped by his girlfriend and has his nephew, Clark Duke, living in his basement and pretty much refusing to interact with the rest of humanity except via Second Life.  And Rob Corddry is so into Motley Crue that he forgets to turn off his car while in his garage because the jams on “Home Sweet Home” is just too fine.  Needless to say to the learned peoples of the world, but when you are in a closed garage and your car is not only idling, but is also revving up in tune with the Crue, you mayhaps will die.  So Robinson and Cusack get called in to the hospital because of Corddry’s “attempted suicide” and, to cheer him up, they decide to take a little slice out of their younger years and go up to Kodiak Valley, where the 3 used to tear it up in the 80’s.  Dragging Duke along, much to the chagrin of Corddry, the 4 head up to Kodiak Valley just to find that it has fallen upon hard times, most of their favorite joints have closed and their hotel is host to old people.  Desperate for entertainment and drawn in by the Pulp Fiction-esque glowing light from the Hot Tub, they take to their birthday suits and jump in, getting completely sloshed and knocking over their Chernobyl energy drink into the controls.  They wake up in the morning, go skiing, and soon find out that they are somehow back in 1986.  The 4 now have to decide if they want to avoid screwing up the time space continuum and do exactly what they did when they were there in ’86, or fix what went wrong and risk making Hitler president.

It is something that I have talked about before, but I think this movie is probably the best example of my problem with how people view comedies.  I heard a lot of people talking about this movie and how ridiculous the premise was for this movie and so they couldn’t get into it.  Are you kidding me?  Again, it’s just what they need to have something of a story while they make the funny happen.  Who cares how something makes you laugh, just let it do it.  And it’s not like this movie isn’t fully aware of how ridiculous it is.  One of my favorite moments of the movie, which is also in the trailers for it, is when Craig Robinson figures out what happens and actually says the name of the movie and looks directly straight-faced at the camera, basically saying “Fuck you, this is happening”.  I love that.  Own your ridiculousness.  Also, the story is something many people can relate to.  Probably everyone in the world that’s less than pleased with their life wish they had the opportunity to jump back in time at a crucial moment, if even for just a day, and possibly set your life on a better path.

The cast is great in this movie.  John Cusack is mostly the straight man and does have to seemingly try very hard to match his comedic giant costars.  Craig Robinson is often one of the best parts of anything I’ve seen him in.  Rob Corddry is such an over the top asshole, but you still feel really bad for him at many times.  Clark Duke reminds me a lot of Jonah Hill in this roll and he just seems to hang out and throw awesome comments from the background.  Besides the main cast, Chevy Chase is fantastic as the cryptic possibly-supernatural person disguised as the hot tub repair man who refuses to say that it’s a time machine but has to give his exposition … and also seems to think Clark Duke is a woman.  Crispen Glover also has a small part in this movie as a bellhop, and it’s possibly his least strange and most tolerable performance ever.  Lizzy Caplan is here too, and she’s cute and all, but doesn’t make much impact.

So I’m not sure if the haters walked into this movie expecting a work of art, like Schindler’s List with a hot tub, or if the jokes were just not their bag, but they were mine.  I likes me a good laugh movie, especially if it seems mostly improved.  I digs it.  I says “Rent it, then buy it if you’re one of the people that likes it” out of 37 billion.