- 10 August 2012
- By John Howell
With a title like Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, you could be forgiven for expecting to be heading into the cinema to watch a comedy. Unfortunately director Timur Bekmambetov and writer Seth Grahame-Smith (screenplay and novel) have created an amazingly straight laced, extremely serious tale about the 16th President of the United States as a part-time vampire hunter.
When I spied an early trailer I was sure a comedy was what they were intending. I remember watching Lincoln on top of a train wielding an axe against fang snarling vampires and thought it was hysterical. I'm not sure now whether the trailer was actually meant to be serious and I laughed when I wasn't meant to, or if the film makers changed their minds in the editing process and decided it should be a serious, somber epic instead. It's a bit of a mystery how they could expect such a premise to ever be taken for anything but a comedy (a deadpan, ironic comedy at least).
In his childhood Abraham Lincoln witnesses his mother being killed by a vampire (Jack Barts). When he attempts to avenge his mother's death years later, he crosses paths with Henry Sturgess, a vampire hunter extraordinaire, who teaches him how to kill vampires and how to make use of his innate power (truth is power apparently). Henry only teaches him these vampire hunting skills after Lincoln agrees to kill the vampires Henry asks him to (avenging his mother's death will have to wait). Lincoln relocates to Springfield, gets a job as a store clerk, studies law, kills vampires at night, finds time to date his future wife (Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Mary Todd) and eventually becomes a successful politician. His wife is unaware of his nocturnal activities.
Benjamin Walker is good as Abraham Lincoln, Dominic Cooper is great as the vampire trainer Henry Sturgess and Rufus Sewell makes a good head vampire called Adam, but the script they had to work with is rubbish. The special effects are not bad, the makeup is OK, but surely there are better ways to spend $70,000?
It's a mess of a movie. There are plot holes and inconsistencies all over the place and that coupled with the serious tone and absence of even the slightest touch of levity killed it for me. I was expecting something better from Timur Bekmambetov, his previous films such as 9 and Wanted were quite good.
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