The Raven (**)

I did not expect much from this film - the trailer makes it look pretty awful - but as it went through its rather predictable motions I did find myself warming to the combination of John Cusack's way-serious Edgar Allan Poe and director James McTeigue's vision of 19th century Baltimore. Luke Evans, Alice Eve, and Brendan Gleeson do a nice job of holding the center while Cusack runs around and chews the scenery. The plot of the film is a literary mashup that reminded me of Nicholas Meyer's Time After Time, in which H.G Wells uses a time machine to chase Jack The Ripper into the modern world. Other than its references to Poe's actual history and his stories it is a by-the-numbers serial killer story - a sort of proto-Zodiac, lacking the Gothic charm of the many previous films based on Poe's work. Unlike Poe's stories, there is not much mystery or imagination in The Raven.