Friday, June 22

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter Review

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
Dir: Timur Bekmambetov
Starring: Benjamin Walker, Rufus Sewell,
Dominic Cooper, Mary Elizabeth Winstead,
and Anthony Mackie

As far as movie titles go, this one has a great one. It’s embodies everything my inner teenager could have dreamed of; a mix of stylized violence, vampires, cool weapons, and copious amounts of gore! However, were style takes precedent substance typically takes a back seat, which unfortunately happens with this film. Though the design elements are unique, if you’ve seen Bekmambetov’s better film Wanted, you’ve seen the effects all before. Still, the film is entertaining for some time, but repetition wears continuously on the final effort.

Seth Grahame-Smith, who also wrote the screenplay for this film, bases the film on his novel of the same name.  The book composes a clever mix of horror and historical elements, which made for an original concept when it first came out. The telling of the iconic 16th President wielding an axe in vengeance at vampires, all the while wearing the customary stovepipe hat, is definitely imaginative.

The film begins with young Abe Lincoln standing up to racial oppressors, who attack a young African American boy, and also happen to be vampires. During the subsequent retaliation Abe witnesses his mother’s demise at the hands of the vampire he stood up to. This sends Abe (Benjamin Walker) down a path consumed with revenge. Lincoln seeks out the vampire who killed his mother but is saved from imminent death by Henry Sturges (Dominic Cooper), a vampire hunter who then teaches Abe how to dispense of vampires through the inclusion of the customary “training” montage scene. Abe’s weapon of choice…a silver coated axe! My inner teenager jumps for joy.

At this point, the film transitions into a few different directions. We are introduced to Lincoln’s love interest Mary Todd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), reintroduced to Will Johnson (Anthony Mackie), the young boy Lincoln saved at the beginning of the film, and offered proper introductions to the films lead villain Adam (Rufus Sewell), a vampire who envisions a position of power amongst humanity. During this evolution of time, Lincoln changes from hunter to politician all amidst the shifting backdrop of America.

There are some clever moments during the latter part of this film, specifically the gestures to American history, in which vampires are part of the Confederacy, and the rousing speeches conducted by Lincoln when he is President. The glaring flaws with the film can be attributed to overwhelming amount of style; the first fight scene where Lincoln pummels vampires with axe spinning flare is awesome, the second time is good, and the third begins to feel tiresome. This is partly because it’s the same slow motion, CGI infused method. There are also some discrepancies with the script; the film never fully realizes the potential of infusing history or focusing clearly on character development. The relationships feel forced, most notably that of Abe and his wife Mary Todd; along with Adam, the villain, who never develops into a menacing or threatening character at all.

 The CGI environments are overwhelming, some in a good way like the epic battlefields of the Civil War and some in terrible ways like a scene where Abe jumps from horse to horse chasing a vampire during a stampede. It should be noted that the miniscule practical make-up effects were ingenious, especially the aging techniques used for Lincoln.

As I was leaving the theater I overheard someone describe Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter as a “popcorn” movie. I agreed, even if they didn’t mean it in the way I interpreted. Sure, this film starts out entertaining with an abundant amount of style, but just like fresh popcorn is initially satisfying, it tends to become stagnant and stale the longer it’s out, which unfortunately happens over the course of this film.

Monte's Rating
2.75 out of 5.00

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