Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012)
Director: Timur Bekmambetov
Mary Elizabeth Winstead/Mary
As a boy, his momma was killed by a bloodsucker. So over time, the wee lad only had one thing on the fritz; "payback" Now all growz up, he trains hard in the art of whacking vamps and eventually goes out into the world with his trustee axe to clean them streets of the fanged varmints! Who is this ass whooping hombre? Blade? Van Helsing? Burt Reynolds as Malone? No. Abraham Lincoln!
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. "Uh?" That was my reaction when I first heard of the project. It just sounded too stupid for my personal affinities. And having already witnessed Jesus hunt creatures of the night (in the sad sack 2001 Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter) and Poe chase a serial killer (in the decent 2012 The Raven), I was already fed up of this new trend of having prominent historical figures combat evillllll (in Sam Loomis drawl). What's next? Bill Clinton: Poon Hunter? Come on! With that, the only reason I was excited to go see it was because I was hung-over on that day (damn you JoBlo and your Southern Comfort/Tequila bottles... damn you!), and my favorite thing to do when feeling that pain is to watch a movie and soak up the booze with a mammoth tub of Popcorn laced with a ridiculous amount of butter. So how did my theater going experience turn out? Although far from a masterpiece, the movie was better than I expected it to be be! I was mucho amused!
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (based on Seth Grahame-Smith's novel of the same name – he also wrote the script) laid out its initial premise and then dazzled away on a cosmetic level by throwing everything at me but the kitchen. Clocking some dude with an axe chop out varied vamps within high octane, brilliantly choreographed (Ya see the moves on that Prez!), style whore charged fights sequences equals good times to this jerk! And when shot by Timur Bekmambetov, even better! Hard to find a more visually dynamic director than Bekmambetov these days! He's like old school Sam Raimi on a double dose of speed! You dig ramping, fanboy chill inducing hero shots, fly camera moves and powerful slow motion in your fist-to-cuffs nuggets? You'll be well served here! Bekmambetov of course also brought his nutty visual panache to the varied stunt set pieces on hand, resulting in all kinds of insane moments of chaos and destruction. For example, one chase scene took place within a herd of wild runaway horses in “stampede” mode. Yeah you heard me! When's the last time you saw a vampire toss a freaking horse at some guy? Exactly! Wow! So for me; the flick not only delivered in the action department but it showed me stuff I had never seen before too! Taking account the amount of movies that I have tackled in my lifetime thus far, that was a feat in itself.
Then we had the well rounded performances doing well by me. Benjamin Walker was affable and nailed the many incarnation of the Prez, Dominic Cooper was efficient as the eccentric hunter/teacher, Mary Elizabeth Winstead "brought it" in terms of the material she was given (loved her break-down scene) while Rufus Sewell got another villainous role to sink his teeth in and yup he aced it! Finally, the whole was arresting to gawk at (dug the Gothic production designs and the money was definitely onscreen), the monster design/execution gnarly, the pace effortless, the inclusion of vamps into true to life historical events (like the battle of Gettysburg) somewhat clever and I have to give the film kudos for keeping a straight face throughout all of it. When you hear a title like Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, you think cheese or tongue in cheek (which I hear the novel leans more towards), but not this film adaption. It didn't take the safe route by playing it for laughs, it took the tough one and pulled it off, so props for that! NOTE: I saw the film in 3D, and it did augment my experience. The 3D imbued me further into the lavish settings and the many BOO vamp pops into the screen gags got me a few times. Cheap jolts baby!
On the flip-side, was this movie edited with a pair of toenail clippers or something? How else can you explain the rushed storyline, the half ass handling of plot turns, the vague character motivations and the choppy chain of events? I got the feeling that there was more to this movie and some meat got shaved off its tush in the name of its theatrical release. So I expect a fuller picture when it will be released on disk. As-is though, the emotional resonance and the potentially potent metaphors (Vampires are white peeps sucking off the life of slaves...get it?) were watered down in the name of keeping the action in my face. And was I alone in seeing my interest go down when the movie abandoned the story it was telling to go forward in time and tell another one? What an abrupt transition! Personally, I would have kept it ALL about Young Lincoln for the whole of the movie, cause once the old Lincoln we all know kicked in, the story lost its spark, became sloppier (bad old age makeup to zero old age makeup) and less plausible. Hard to buy Lincoln leaping around like Spider-Man when he should be handling a walker instead of an axe, but hey, that's just me.
So all in all, I had fun with Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. hard to go wrong with crazy fight scenes, gore galore, insane stunt sequences and top notch visual flair. Alas, the same attention wasn't given to the narrative structure, which was chop-shop to say the least. In the mood for some kinetic and hollow entertainment? Throw on your hat, grab your axe and swing away!
We get lots of slashing, gun shot wounds (loved that bullet in the eye), severed heads, chopped off arms, grisly bites and CG blood.
T & A
A blink and miss tit shot on a dead body...bah...
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter had a slick premise and went on to groove me right via its intense/eye popping fight sequences, its jacked up gore quotient, its jaw dropping stunts, its involving visual style (Timur Bekmambetov is a champ!) and obviously che-ching hefty production values. The actors were all on the ball, the pacing easy and the 3D effective too. Too bad the narrative structure was slap-dash in places, the character motivations a tad hazy and jumping forward in time to drop the story that was being told in favor of a less interesting one was maybe not the best of ideas. But overall if like me spending time with a bad ass hombre slashing vampires into Kibble and Bits for two hours = good times, then see it! The gore laced eye candy it axed out made the movie's faults worth enduring! Long Live The Prez!
Seth Grahame-Smith also wrote Dark Shadows (2012).
Tom Hardy was asked to be Lincoln, but couldn't do it cause of his work on The Dark Knight Rises. Eric Bana, Timothy Olyphant, Adrien Brody, Josh Lucas, James D'Arcy and Oliver Jackson-Cohen were also approached.
Look out for The Loved Ones Robin McLeavy as Lincoln's mother Nancy.
The flick cost about $70,000,000 to make.