ZERO STARS/**** Image B+ Sound A Extras C
starring John Cusack, Luke Evans, Alice Eve, Brendan Gleeson
screenplay by Ben Livingston & Hannah Shakespeare
directed by James McTeigue
by Walter Chaw I'm no nineteenth-century cop, but I personally would begin by interrogating the guillotine-pendulum maker. James McTeigue's abominable The Raven posits legendary Marylander Edgar Allan Poe (John Cusack) as a crazed, alcoholic, frustrated-artist type who has a bar tab the length of his arm to go with a fiery temper and a quite-requited, it turns out, affair with toothy Emily (from Aardman Studios: Alice Eve), daughter of Captain Hamilton (Brendan Gleeson). Alack-alay, what should happen but a wax museum breaks out as a critics-hating serial killer (just like Theatre of Blood, which I should've revisited instead) enacts scenes from Poe's stories whilst dressed in the hat and cape of McTeigue's V for Vendetta protag. Good copper Det. Fields (Luke Evans) is hot on the miscreant's trail, enlisting Poe as a Poe expert to try to get one step ahead of the well-read marauder. There is, alas, no ratiocination the equal of the mystery of Ben Livingston and Hannah Shakespeare's (no relation, I hope) bewilderingly bad screenplay. No one, no one, could deliver these lines--a mush of anachronistic phrases and "period" posh--with conviction, much less the miscast Cusack and a motley band of supporting players. The good news is that The Raven is funny. The bad news is that it's so awful, it makes you the kind of person who watches a movie just to be superior to it.