A little while ago, I was watching television when an ad for “The Raven” (now in theaters!) came on. For those of you unaware of this film, it stars John Cusack as Edgar Allen Poe. From what I gather, Poe is enlisted to help the police solve a series of murders that resemble many of the crimes in his fiction.
Before I continue, I should make it clear that I have not seen this film. I don’t intend to see this film. I don’t know how scary it actually is, but if it’s even scary-adjacent I’m not going to enjoy myself. For all I know, it might be an hour and 43 minutes of pure, unalloyed awesome. Which would make my impressions grossly unfair.
However, when I saw the ad my thoughts were “that’s a great idea for a movie!” and “I’ll bet that movie is awful,” pretty much at the exact same time. I dunno. For some reason the idea that John Cusack, whose career is built almost entirely on his cinematic affability (and of whom I am generally a fan), would be cast as a tortured soul like Poe just seemed… off to me. Again, maybe the movie is totes amazing. If you’ve seen it, let me know.
But the idea? The idea rocks. A copycat killer mimicking the murders in Poe’s fiction, with the author tracking him down? Fantastic. Again, probably too scary for me. (When I was in middle school, I saw a stage production [for kids, mind you] of “The Black Cat,” and it gave me the howling fantods for weeks. Perhaps I’ve mentioned that I was a high-strung child?) But a great idea for a thriller for those of you who go in for that kind of thing.
This also kind of dovetails with a comment Jaybird made recently over at the main page:
You know the old saw “it’s not a good book, but there’s a good book in there”?
Too often, I find that I say “it’s not a good movie, but there’s a good movie in there”.
So that’s my question — which movies (or, if you prefer, TV shows or books or plays or whatever) grew into something lousy from a really great seed? Where were there good ideas that went bad? If you’d like, you can share what fixes you’d have made to extract the good movie that should have been from the bad movie that was.