Review Rating: 7
Edgar Allen Poe teams up with a Baltimore Maryland Police Detective to solve a series of murders based on Poe’s writings!
Remember in school, when Poe’s stories were required reading? Some of us actually enjoyed them. Edgar Allen Poe the man was indeed troubled by darkening shadows his entire life, clearly translated over to his writing, which somehow transcended the time-period barrier and can be appreciated no matter when you are. Yet this portrayal of Poe as a kind of bumblingly romantic drunken down on his luck poet, portrayed by John Cusack no less, seems to me to be unworthy of Poe. Cusack has a great many acting talents and I adore the man, but this role fits him about as well as Cinderella in a Hannibal Lecter story. The filmmakers tried hard for a gothic feel about the movie, yet it ends up a Victorian-wannabe mess. I kept expecting accents, despite knowing it’s supposed to be set in Baltimore Maryland. Every character the movie introduces is a potential suspect for the murderer emulating Poe’s stories, and yet. Really. A great deal of the backstory for poor Poe deals with his genius going unrecognized, and frankly that’s all the killer wants too. With that in mind, one can guesstimate pretty easily who the killer is, even with the dearth of potential suspects, in the first half of the movie. Luke Evans, yes that guy, is Detective Fields in the film, and his passion for his work is commendable. There is a fantastic scene where, with a gang of policemen summoned, Fields comes up with a brilliant field plan for searching the underground of Baltimore for Emily. And then there’s Emily Hamilton, the love interest, played by Alice Eve. Much later on in the movie, after a quick romp with Emily and a confrontation with her father, we learn that Poe had a wife, Virginia, and had to watch her die from illness while he could do nothing. It seems as though he truly loves Emily, and poking fun at Captain Hamilton, admirably acted by Brendan Gleeson, is just a playful added bonus. However when Emily gets snatched, Poe and the Captain come together to find her before it’s too late!
The film could have been so much more. You don’t need Johnny Depp, or any other brand name actors, to accomplish a fine film in this genre. What you do need is fine filmmakers, like oh for example, the Hughes Brothers. The premise offered here could have been a disturbing journey into the world of Poe’s head and how he affected others, and yet really only comes across as a star-struck fan wanting to say hey, look, I can reach Master level and do you one better! The proposed reason for Poe’s real-life mysterious death, though, was a nice potential twist.