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2 reviews, 9 user ratings

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Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
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by Jay Seaver

"Crazy - but is it crazy enough?"
3 stars

It seems quite unlikely that something by the name "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" was ever going to be a great movie, and this particular one doesn't come particularly close. What's surprising is that it gets as far in that direction as it does, and how often it avoids disaster to actually do right by its gonzo premise.

Abraham Lincoln's story is taught to every American child, but there are apparently some parts generally left out. Like how the illness that claimed his mother (Robin McLeavy) was the result of a vampire bite, or how young Mr. Lincoln (Benjamin Walker) sought vengeance on her killer (Marton Csokas), only to discover he needed to be trained by vampire-hunter Henry Sturgess (Dominic Cooper). This eventually brings him to the attention of Adam (Rufus Sewell), the most powerful vampire in America, even as Lincoln romances the lovely Mary Todd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead).

I suspect that in screenwriter Seth Grahame-Smith's original book, this secret history is a bit more convincing; he first gained note not just for how out-there Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was as a concept, but for how cleanly he combined the two opposing sensibilities. The movie version of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter certainly shows some seams, but it's also surprisingly respectful: Grahame-Smith doesn't diminish Lincoln's actual deeds to bolster his fictional ones, and while vampires are involved in the Civil War, they're not the "real" cause of it.

That doesn't mean that the story is without problems - a movie doesn't give its makers quite the room to play out the detail-obsession that a book does, and absent that, the movie really doesn't have a strong plot. It hits all he expected supernatural action beats just as one expects, but never establishes a real identity beyond the novelty of the protagonist. There's a chance to use vampirism as a metaphor for slave-ownership, but the movie tiptoes around it, making Adam a generic villain.

Rufus Sewell really deserves better than just being a place-holder, but that's the hand he's dealt here. The entire cast is in that position, really - Dominic Cooper, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Anthony Mackie, et al, actually make up a capable supporting cast, and could probably shine if given a chance, but settle for not faltering (most underused: an uncredited Alan Tudyk as Stephen Douglas). Benjamin Walker in the same boat as Lincoln, only more so, as he's in the most scenes. He's an amiable enough lead who fits the part physically - he reminds me of a younger Liam Neeson - but seldom quite asserts himself as Lincoln.

When it comes time to get down to action, though, director Timur Bekmambetov delivers more often than not. With the scenes in between the fights played relatively straight, Bekmambetov will often stage something utterly absurd and then move forward as if throwing a horse at one's pursuer is so absolutely normal that it doesn't deserve the slo-mo treatment that much more mundane bits get. The action is actually fairly well-staged - Bekmambetov gives the audience the lay of the land before throwing people around it - even if there is a lot of slow motion and quick-cutting. At times, Bekmambetov and company are a little too enamored of how they can play with the image: As much as each individual shot looks pretty nice, the color level, brightness, and graininess will switch suddenly for no apparent reason. Having seen the movie on 35mm film, I can't speak to the 3D post-conversion; some shots look built for it while some sequences would be a real mess.

"Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" is a weird movie, in both good and bad ways. There are times when it seems to be clever and energetic, and just as many when it seems messy and, worse, lazy. It's not the best possible movie about Abraham Lincoln fighting the undead, but it's surprisingly far from the worst.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=23150&reviewer=371
originally posted: 06/27/12 20:15:32
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User Comments

7/15/17 Garlic Breath Entertaining camp film! 5 stars
10/18/12 Johnny Wad excellent movie! 5 stars
7/24/12 Mick Gillies Great action and effects - but poor Abe's been re invented 4 stars
7/09/12 Andy I love it Lincoln as a Vampire hunter...Very interesting story 4 stars
7/05/12 damalc i would have liked a more serious tone 3 stars
7/02/12 James Thomas A badass movie i would watch it again 5 stars
6/25/12 2Cruzy Campy semi-historic fun - with Vampires! 4 stars
6/25/12 action movie fan the critics are wrong, overdirected but action packed thrill ride class act , 1 of the best 5 stars
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  22-Jun-2012 (R)
  DVD: 23-Oct-2012


  DVD: 23-Oct-2012

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