Monday, December 3, 2012

Review 105: "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter"

Drat! There goes my screenplay for
Thomas Jefferson: Loch Ness Monster Hunter!
    Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter follow Abraham Lincoln (Benjamen Walker), of course, who mother is killed earlier on by a vampire. Seeking revenge, Lincoln teams up with Henry (Dominic Cooper) to help stop the vampire menace. As they discover, the vampire are using the slave trade as a food source and that they are outnumbered greatly. As the years goes on, Lincoln marries Mary Todd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), reunites with friends Will (Anthony Mackie) and Speed (Jimmi Simpson) and enter politics. Eventually, Honest Abe become president and starts the Civil War as a means to finally stop the vampire leader Adam (Rufus Sewell) and the rest of the vampire once and for all.
    I read Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter back when it was just a wee book. I didn't like it. I felt as if the whole thing dragged, with a majority of the book having Lincoln mope with how hard being a vampire hunter was and the actually vampire slaying in there was pretty generic. It was an ambitious idea that I wish had worked, and it may actually have worked if the book took itself less seriously and had Lincoln stop whining long enough to kill a few vampires. The movie is better than the book, but not by much.
Cirque Du So-Lincoln.
    The movie thankfully makes Lincoln a more likable character than the book's dull whiner, however the film's Lincoln isn't so much a character as he is a caricature. Everybody knows the basic story about Lincoln, that he was hero that gave great speeches and would never back down and the movie never tries to go beyond more than that. Walker does a good job, but he's hardly given much to work with as the film never tries to take any risks with the characters. Not once did I ever feel a sense of danger when one of Abe's loved ones was put in danger, nor did I have to. Abe always saved the day and when he didn't, the film never stayed long on the mourning process.
    The movie paces itself weirdly too. The entire first hundred or so pages (At least if felt like a hundred) of the book was about Abe's childhood before he hunter vampires, a whole twenty years that in the movie, are compressed into about 10 minutes. Abe's vampire hunting pre-President takes up the largest part of the film, about an hour, which is unfortunate as it tends to drag and never really is all that interesting. The last twenty minutes or so is the final act action sequence, this time on a train, that while action-packed, also has quite a few glaring plotholes and mistakes.
    The movie does at least look nice. The action is well done and the sight of Lincoln personally chopping a slave-owning vampire's head off never tires. The fight scenes are competently put together with enough blood to satisfy those looking for a good R-rated action film. It's nothing groundbreaking or even all that original, but it is at least entertaining and is worth a rental for the novelty of the Great Emancipator welding an ax gun.
That poor tree!
    Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter isn't all that great. The characters are dull and therefore we can never get all that invested in the story. The pacing is rushed, the third act is mistake-laden and the film itself plays it safe. With such a novel idea, something great could have come out of it. Instead, what we get is a good-looking, but hollow and dull movie. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter get 3 and a half stars out of 6.

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