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The Raven: Suspense-less Thriller Based on Edgar Allen Poe’s Work
A deranged groupie has taken Edgar Allen Poe’s (Cusack) literature a little bit too literally. He goes on a killing spree using different murders from Poe’s stories as inspiration, where each murder contains a clue to the next. The murderer starts improvising though and kidnaps Poe’s girlfriend, Emily (Eve), to draw the author closer in; taunting him. The murderer orders Poe to write a story and publish it in the newspaper where he works, based on the murderous actions. In the story, Poe both immortalizes the killer and shapes his future actions.
This is a film with a decent concept that just doesn’t work out. Making a murder-mystery out of bits of Poe’s literary tales could have been pretty interesting, but it basically boils down to us hopping from one gruesome murder to the next. There isn’t even much connecting one murder with the next. Also, by having Poe translate the murderer’s escapades into fiction the film has a very strong going-through-the-motions vibe, killing any sense of suspense or tension.
The characters aren’t much better either. Cusack’s character of Poe is a depressed alcoholic with a raging ego and an insufferable sense of superiority – basically a cliché of an artist. Eve’s character Emily is pretty and, unfortunately, doesn’t get much of a chance to transcend that trait seeing as she’s stuck in a box for most of the film. Also, Poe is at least double her age and is probably old enough to be her father. Their relationship is kind of creepy and you wouldn’t be wrong in completely empathizing with Emily’s father who does his best to keep them away from each other. Luke Evans plays Detective Fields, the officer in charge of the investigation and the man who first makes the connection between the murders and Poe’s stories. He does a decent job not least because he isn’t saddled with the ‘artistic,’ heavy-on-the-synonyms dialogue that Cusack has to deal with.
At the very least, the film looks good even though it’s not as extravagant as other period films. It has a very Gothic feel with its bleak palette and reams of fog unfurling everywhere, which does manage to give the film a vaguely foreboding feel. The murder scenes are pretty gory, the costumes look good and are sufficiently showcased in the scene of a ball.
The film is disappointing on two levels: it squandered a cool concept and it ended up a completely by-the-numbers thriller.
First, it’s important to establish that we cannot place the blame in its entirety on Ramez Galal for his sadistic show. A big part of the blame should fall on us, the viewers, who eagerly wait for pranks and spike the show’s ratings, even reaching the point where café owners will blast these shows on large TVs to attract customers. It’s time to admit that there’s a sadist in all of us.
The premise of the show is a guest will come in to film an episode about the World Cup on a zodiac boat out at sea. The boat malfunctions, one of the presenters dives in to see what’s wrong, and the events quickly escalate to the boat sinking with the guest and a fake shark attack.
In the episode with Rania Mahmoud Yassin and Mohamed Riad, it’s interesting to point out that the boat didn’t sink entirely, and Rania kept a firm clutch on her sunglasses in a situation where any normal person would’ve let go of his/her belongings in exchange for safety. We ignored these points at first, but after several mentions on TV and by other viewers, we couldn’t help but wonder.
The show comes with a lot of legal issues this year, of which, a case that Athar El Hakim filed against Galal, banning her episode from airing, under the pretence that the prank extremely frightened her. The truth behind that is in question, after a video of her discussing her pay for the episode was leaked. Other legal issues concerning the show include damage to marine life from planting metal poles to support the hidden cameras.
Because nothing is black and white, it’s important to admit Galal’s sense of humour and experience, especially when it’s imitated by an artist like Mohamed Fouad in his show “Fo’sh Fil Mo’askar”, a stale and completely void of humour prank show.
We have to admit, we were impressed by the shark boat Galal uses to rescue the guests. He is a smart actor who was able to establish himself within Ramadan TV and create shows that people wait for year to year.
“Live, Die, Repeat” is the tagline of Doug Liman's latest sci-fi escapade, Edge of Tomorrow; an exciting and somewhat trippy alien adventure, which finds the enduring Tom Cruise on a Groundhog Day-like mission as he battles his way through an army of invading alien forces.
Set in the near future, Earth has been invaded by aliens called the Mimics; an indestructible extra-terrestrial force of invaders whose unique ability of resetting the day helps them foresee the combat methods used by their adversaries, and giving them a competitive edge in battle.
On the night before a specially-designed mission was due to take place, Major William Cage (Cruise), a haughty and skilful military public relations Officer, is called upon by UFF General Brigham (Gleeson), and ordered to report from the frontlines of battle. However, Cage – someone who has a low blood tolerance and a general distaste for war – refuses to follow orders and soon finds himself disgraced, arrested and placed under the command of Master Sergeant Farrell (Paxton).
Labelled as a deserter, Cage is soon sent into battle, but his squad is ambushed and killed by Mimics. Cage is shocked to find himself waking up the next morning only to live out the same day – and a gruelling death – all over again. His saving grace and the only way out of the loop is Rita Vrataski (Blunt); a Special Forces soldier who soon takes Cage under her wing and helps him acquire the technique and skills needed to fight the enemy.
Still considered one of the biggest box-office draws, Cruise is definitely in his element and delivers a solid performance as Major Cage. As the super warrior, Rita Vrataski, Blunt is equally likeable – her physical transformation definitely deserves a few nods – but the relationship between herself and Cage – which hints at more than just a teacher-student one – doesn’t really work nor does it develop into anything the audience can really sink their teeth into.
Written by the Usual Suspects writer, Christopher McQuarrie, Edge of Tomorrow’s edge, so to speak, is its Groundhog Day-like premise where the protagonist is forced to relive the same day over and over again. It makes for a clever setup and the Bourne Identity’s Doug Liman manages to pull off each repeated sequence skilfully and efficiently, without coming off as forced or overworked. The special effects look polished and slick and the battle shield-armour used by the humans, as well as the Mimics themselves, are executed to perfection.
Well-paced and offering a few light-hearted comedic touches needed to weave together its repetitive premise, Edge of Tomorrow is not cutting-edge, but is exciting and makes for a fun and refreshing watch.