The movie, which has been advertised in trailers and TV commercials for what feels like 14 years, depicts Edgar Allen Poe’s fictionalized last days as he helps police hunt down “The Raven,” a murderer dispatching his victims in ways that are clearly inspired by his writings. Here’s a TV commercial that explains exactly what I just said:
This sort of thing NEVER happens to H.P. Lovecraft.
Basically, it’s a movie that was pitched to you by every drunk roommate you ever had in college who was convinced he could write a movie. There are several problems with this movie. First, it’s irresponsible. Calling it The Raven is going to make high school kids everywhere think that this is a film adaptation of The Raven, Poe’s legendary poem about a man descending into madness. Thousands of English reports are now ruined. Second, when my son grows up into a morose adolescent who has parents that JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND HIM, he’s going to start getting into the works of authors like Poe, and we, as parents, probably don’t need extra fuel on that fire, with kids thinking all Gothic writers were also super-detectives.
But these two problems may not be too much of an issue since the movie bombed, will undoubtedly go away quickly, and, to quote pretty much every professional review of the film, “Quoth the Raven, what a bore.”
But there’s a third issue that we should address. Why are movies about writers always casting the writer as some sort of super-hero/genius? Movie Edgar Allen Poe is capable and dynamic as he overcomes his demons and joins 19th-century CSI Baltimore in pursuit of The Raven. Real life Edgar Allen Poe married his 13-year-old cousin and died on a park bench of either alcohol, drugs, cholera, or rabies (seriously, check his Wikipedia page). This is not to say that the man wasn’t a gifted writer, but there’s a definite trend in how writers are portrayed in fiction. They’re usually the funniest, the smartest, the bravest or, ultimately, the hero…except in the movies where they actually turn out to be the killer.
The simple reason behind all of this is the very fact that movies and stories are written by, well, writers. Except for Michael Bay movies, that is. Those movies are generated by an Amiga 1200 computer that cranks out scripts based on the simple equation:
((Fire*Explosions)+(Jugs*Tan))/Sense = $$$
As someone who occasionally fancies himself to be a bit of a writer (and I have volumes of Misfits of Science fan-fiction to back that up), I can attest to the fact that we have a subconscious need to think we’re the smartest guys and gals in the room. When you create a world that a story lives in, you become the master of that universe and you can mold everything in it in any way you see fit. Even if you’re just writing for yourself, a sense of empowerment can come over you the second you decide to put pen on paper. So, naturally, when a writer has to write about a writer, the fictional writer can start to take on the traits that the real life writer would like to see in himself based on the works that the fictional writer wrote.
So, in honor of The Raven bombing and of writers who write writers as super-characters, let’s apply the The Raven formula to some other famous writers. Which one would you greenlight?
Title: A Farewell to the Old Man
The Writer: Ernest Hemingway
The Plot: After going on what would be known as “The Mother of All Benders,” Ernest Hemingway wakes up in Cuba to find himself accused of strangling every animal in a local zoo. Eager to clear his name, Ernest enters in a series of drinking competitions to find out who the actual animal killers are so that he can properly fist fight them. Can Hemingway get to the bottom of this mystery even if it turns out the real culprit is himself?
Title: The Importance of Being Oscar
The Writer: Oscar Wilde
Plot: When young people in a small town are being killed by what are determined to be “biting witticisms”, Oscar Wilde is called in to hunt down the killer. Armed with only a barb on his tongue and some fabulous jackets, can Oscar track down the killer without being ultimately entertained by all of the wit that’s being laid down?
Title: Attack of the 50 Foot Woolf
The Writer: Virginia Woolf
Plot: When attending a seminar on gender switching radiation, Virginia Woolf is hit with an errant blast of Gamma radiation. Growing to an astronomical size, Virginia Woolf decides to take vengeance on the world that made her so dang sad.
Title: One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, DEAD FISH
The Writer: Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss)
Plot: Dr. Seuss, on a routine visit to a stationary store, is struck by a runaway ice cream truck. When the good Doctor comes to, he finds himself surrounded by the characters he created. But all is not well: Sam-I-Am has been gagged to death on green eggs and ham and only Dr. Seuss can find the murderer. He will look for him in the sky. He’ll try to shoot him in the eye…
Title: 50 Shades of DIE
The Writer: E.L. James
Plot: E.L. James, author of the erotic novel 50 Shades of Grey, is living the high life. She helped invent “Mommy Porn” and her book is selling like gangbusters…but all of that is about to change when people actually start to read the book. People start throwing themselves into idling air conditioner fans because of the inexplicable prose and men everywhere notice no change in marital relation beyond “the usual”. Can E.L. James undo the damage her book is doing? Or will more innocent victims be lost?
So what do you think, ladies and not ladies? What author would you love to see get a fictionalized movie about themselves? Any writers you hope never get The Raven treatment? Let us know in the comments box below!