DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

The Raven, Blu-ray+DVD+Digital Copy (2012)

A fictional re-imagining of Poe as a crime-solver.

Published on November 20, 2012

The Raven, Blu-ray+DVD+Digital Copy (2012)

Cast: John Cusack, Alice Eve, Luke Evans
Director: James McTeigue
Studio: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment  [10/9/12]
Video: 2.40:1 anamorphic/enhanced for 1080p HD
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Extras: Director and producers’ audio commentary; Five featurettes: (“The Raven Guts: Bringing Death to Life”, “The Madness, Misery and Mystery of Edgar Allan Poe”, “Behind the Beauty and Horror”, The Raven Presents John Cusack & James McTeigue” and “Music for the Raven: The Team”); Six deleted/extended scenes; Theatrical trailer; Preview trailers
Length: 111 minutes
Movie Rating: ***½   Video: ****½    Audio: ****

“The Raven” stars John Cusack as the legendary writer Edgar Allan Poe.  Circa Baltimore 1849, police detective Emmett Fields (Luke Evans) is investigating a gruesome double homicide.  Even more troubling, the killer’s method appears to trace Poe’s writings.  Fields initially suspects Poe of the murders, but after it becomes clear that Poe is not the murderer, Fields enlists his help.  When Poe’s fiancée is then kidnapped by the serial killer, it becomes a race against time to save her before she perishes by virtue of another one of Poe’s chilling tales.  I liked this movie more than I expected given that “The Raven” was not a box-office or critical success.  Its fictional re-imagining of Poe as a crime-solver made for an interesting plot and the identity of the killer kept me guessing until the very end.  “The Raven” is worth at least a look as a rental, while a purchase is in order for fans of the film.

The overall high definition video quality of this Blu-ray disc is very good, especially since this is a very dark picture (in terms of both color and story).  Images are clean and demonstrate sharp detail in close-up scenes.  Black levels are consistently deep throughout the film.  Colors are subdued and stylized with a heavy emphasis either on overcast grays for daylight sequences and orange-brown glows for the lamp-lit sequences.  Although an intentional fine layer of grain is visible, picture defect mastering is well-done with no major flaws or compression artifacts.  The overall audio quality is also very good.  The soundtrack is largely dialogue-driven and favors the forward soundstage.

Nevertheless, it does a nice job of incorporating all of the discrete channels into its mix.  Dialogue is intelligible and always properly positioned in the forward soundstage.  The surround channels are selectively used for ambient sound effects and the dynamic film score, plus several split rear effects are discernible.  The low frequency effects channel is crisp and provides more than a few moments of rumble.

—Calvin Harding Jr.




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