Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
Now Showing at: most major theaters.
Review by: Larry Thomas
Revisionist history seems to be making headway in both literature and film. It’s basically taking a fact or event, playing a major mind game of “what if” with yourself, and see what pops out. Quentin Tarantino had a major success of revisionist history with INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS, one of his best films.
Now, author Seth Grahame-Smith has adapted his popular novel Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter for the screen. Just the title alone may provoke snickers among the serious minded. I, too, was skeptical about this film being much more than just another Hollywood mess. Imagine my surprise when it turned out to be quite enjoyable as an action-horror film that is well made and features an excellent cast. Once you accept that the Great Emancipator was also a martial arts proficient, silver-tipped ax wielding vampire hunter set on a roaring rampage of revenge against the species that killed his mother, then you’re all set for a couple of exciting hours in your theatre seat.
Benjamin Walker, best known for his Broadway work, is fine as Lincoln. He has talent and personality, both of which come across on film. Anthony Mackie, who made people take notice with his terrific performance in the Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker, plays Abe’s best friend. From Mamma Mia, Dominick Cooper plays a shadowy, yet sympathetic character, who orchestrates Abe’s adventures in vampire hunting…and destruction. And as Mary Todd, the charming Mary Elizabeth Winstead lights up the screen. She’s had roles in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and the latest remake of The Thing, but her role in this film should propel her to bigger and better things. Also notable is British actor Rufus Sewell as the leader of the vampire nation, who plays sinister, yet sad quite well. No over-the-top, eye rolling vampire leader here.
As directed by Timur Bekmambetov, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is a mash-up of history, fiction, romance, and friendship that is mostly a thrill-ride in search of the living dead. It sags a bit in the middle, but revs up its engines for a spectacular, exciting climax. The sets, stunts and special effects are all top-notch, some even spectacular. And the use of 3-D is quite good and adds immensely to the enjoyment of this tale. This time, it’s definitely worth the extra couple of bucks to see it in 3-D.
Needless to say, there’s quite a bit of blood and gore spattered about the scenery, so it’s not a film for your grandma. But if you enjoy both action and horror films, it should be right up your alley. And there are some touches of real history: Lincoln’s entry into politics, the Lincoln-Douglas debates, the Gettysburg Address, and the Civil War. We just never knew before about Lincoln’s other career as a vampire hunter and that the Confederate Army, near the end, was comprised mostly of vampires.
The author of the novel also wrote Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see that on screen in the future. However, if they were to ask me, I’d have to vote for Mark Twain vs. Godzilla… but that’s just me.
The R-rated Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is now showing at plexes everywhere in both 2-D and 3-D versions.