Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter – Review

26 Jun

 

Based on the book of the same name, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is a fictional account of the 16th President of the United States’ life and his secret quest to kill all vampires. The story begins with the death of Abraham’s mother by a vampire when he’s 9 years old. This fuels Abe’s mission to rid America of vampires throughout his life. Lincoln (Benjamin Walker) is aided by the mysterious Henry (Dominic Cooper), who assists, trains and provides Abe with undead targets. Lincoln soon discovers that the South and the slave trade are controlled by Adam (Rufus Sewell), a powerful vampire, whose ultimate goal is to take over America and make it a nation controlled by the undead.

Seth Grahame-Smith wrote the mash-up novel and was given the opportunity to adapt the screenplay. Despite some winning scenes, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is disappointing to say the least.

The plot is rushed and deviates from the book in almost every scene.  Within the first 25 minutes Abraham’s mother and father are both dead, he attempts to kill his first vampire and he’s trained by Henry. It’s too quick and you barely see enough of Abraham’s parents to care that they’re dead.

The training sequence with Henry is one of the worst I’ve ever seen. Everybody loves a montage like in Rocky 1 when Mickey trains Rocky or in Batman Begins when Henri Ducard and Bruce Wayne have a sword fight on a frozen lake.  Training Montage = Awesome.  In Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Lincoln waves around his silver plated axe a few times while Henry lectures him on why he must kill vampires.  It’s painfully boring and we don’t see enough of Lincoln actually killing vampires to make the sad little montage worthwhile.

Best training sequence ever.

Director Timur Berkmambetov never met a slow motion sequence he didn’t like.  At first the slow motion scenes are interesting and fun, but after four or five they get old.  It becomes obvious that the visuals completely usurp the plot.  The entire movie is filmed in sepia and blue-grey tones that eventually take away from the atmosphere instead of contributing to it. There is a great visual where Adam hints at his age and talks about how he’s seen the rise and fall of Egypt, Christians feed to lions and people enslaved.  The whole sequence is a painting come to life that shifts between time periods.  It was by far the most entertaining part of the movie.

The characters lack any real depth and there is no explanation for their choices.  Why does Adam want a nation of vampires? What does Mary Todd find appealing about Lincoln?  Little touches that round out characters are completely skipped.  The lack of direction leaves actors with a stiff plot and little to work with.  Nobody really seems to be enjoying themselves and the movie shifts between being absurd and serious.

As a director, you have to make a decision, are you going to go campy like Planet Terror or are you going to go serious like Planet of the Apes?

In the end Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter lands somewhere between monotonous and forgettable.

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