Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter explores the secret life of our greatest president, and the untold story that shaped our nation. Visionary filmmakers Tim Burton and Timur Bekmambetov (director of Wanted) bring a fresh and visceral voice to the bloodthirsty lore of the vampire, imagining Lincoln as history’s greatest hunter of the undead.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is basically the mullet (business up front, party in the back) of modern cinema. It attempts to be a true blend of the historical and horror genres and I fear it will fail to impress either audience. Before watching the movie, my friend Zack told me “the book is better, but books are always better.” In this case, I did not read the book, but that brings up a third category of people who could possibly be disappointed, those who love Seth Grahme-Smith’s book. Thought I can’t stop thinking of people this movie may let down, I personally enjoyed the film.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter begins with the death of Lincoln’s (Benjamin Walker) mother at the hands of a vampire. Lincoln personally witnesses the initial attack and her death a short time later. His father asks him to let it go, and upon his father’s death Lincoln begins to hunt the vampire who murdered his mother. Lincoln has no training and is under-matched for the fight. Luckily he meets a man named Henry Sturgess (Dominic Cooper) who agrees to assist. Henry offers the knowledge and training needed to be a hunter but Lincoln must agree to only hunt the targets he assigns. As with many other vampire flicks, silver is the essential weapon to defeat them and Lincoln dips his axe blade in silver and begins to fight.
While focused on eliminating vampires, Lincoln meets his future wife Mary Todd, earns his law degree and finds a career in politics suits him. He thinks he can walk away but the vampires know who he is and they retaliate. Once he becomes President Lincoln, he is set on emancipation for the slaves which is a very unpopular decision. The slaves have long been the vampires food source and Lincoln’s plans have ramifications most people don’t realize. The vampires even get involved in the war and specifically the Battle of Gettysburg. As a hunter, Lincoln used silver to defeat his enemies and now he must do so again on a much larger scale.
History buffs are the ones I think will have the biggest problem with Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter. They will want to nit-pick about the accuracy of the film, and I remind them that they shouldn’t look for accuracy in any film with Vampire Hunter in the title. Benjamin Walker successfully portrayed a young Lincoln, and the older bearded president we all recognize on our $5 bills. Mary Elizabeth Winstead played Mary Todd Lincoln, and was a lot less convincing. Particularly in her older years, Winstead looked like a young woman in old lady makeup. From the Vampire Hunter side of the film, it was visually interesting. The fight scenes had some incredible acrobatics I haven’t seen before in this type of film. The vampires themselves lurk around in dark sunglasses and transform into monsters when they attack.
I liked Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter but I will be careful who I suggest it to. I think it might have a little too much vampire stuff for the true history buffs, and not quite enough for the horror crowd. I liked the look of the film, enjoyed the stunt work, and went into it with almost no expectations. Having not read the book might have been a plus as my hopes were not very high and I didn’t have to worry about whether or not it matched the original’s quality. I had feared the film would be a complete waste of time, which it wasn’t. I was entertained throughout, and was glad to have seen it. That’s not a glowing review I realize, but in this case “not a waste of time” is better than I had anticipated.
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