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Friday, June 22, 2012

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter: Too Soon?

Posted by on Fri, Jun 22, 2012 at 5:11 PM

We've got a pretty serious problem, here: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter* doesn't know what kind of movie it wants to be. It's a dumb genre picture spliced into a subpar historical drama, and the dumb parts are, you know, fine: Scenes where Lincoln is killing vampires—shooting them in the face, lighting them on fire, hacking them to pieces with his trusty ax—are undeniably funny. It's an easy joke, riffing on the closest thing America has to a saint. Even an unexceptional Lincoln impersonator like Benjamin Walker suddenly cuts a serious figure when you put a stovepipe hat and beard on him, and then when you make him run around on the outside of a moving train, killing off an army of vampires, you trigger a bit of cognitive dissonance that gets hardwired into our heads back in elementary school. And when you throw daffy conspiracy theories on top of basic American history—the Civil War, apparently, was cover for a secret battle to save the soul of the nation from the undead, who had quietly taken power in the south—you get the kind of movie that makes kids' heads explode with transgressive glee. (And, of course, someone will get offended by this. I can't see diehard fliers of the Stars and Bars feeling too happy about the suggestion that Dixie was on the side of the undead, for example, and tying the whole battle between vampires and humans in with America's long history of slavery in an animated sequence should make Seattle audiences squirm in their seats with discomfort.)

But on the other hand, the movie seems afraid of being too irreverent. Here's where the subpar historical drama bit comes in: Like a too-earnest superhero movie, AL: VH obsesses over getting Lincoln's origin just right.

He's a just man, a decent man, who wants to avenge the death of his mother at the hands of the vampire king. He has to run for president in order to save the world. He doesn't want Mary Todd Lincoln (Mary Elizabeth Winstead, bland in a bland role) to suffer because of his duties. It's all so boring, and it's enough to make you wish they had jammed a few more exploitation-style thrills into the movie—a raunchy sex scene, a morally questionable choice—to keep things interesting.

Because honestly, a lot of this movie is boring. The chronology is disjointed and tries to cover Lincoln's whole life. The background scenery often has the beautiful, washed-out flavor of an old landscape painting, but the action sequences are the same Matrix ripoff stuff we've been seeing for well over a decade now. (I wanted to see how director Timur Bekmambetov handled 3D and was disappointed by how banal it was. In fact, very few of the action scenes featured the same visual inventiveness of Bekmambetov's early sci-fi work like Night Watch; only one scene featuring a battle in a raging herd of wild horses at sunset is at all memorable.) It's just, you know, Abraham Lincoln killing vampires for a couple hours. If you're very easily entertained, this will entertain you. That's about the best I can say for this one.

* And, no I haven't read Seth Grahame-Smith's novel, which was the basis for this movie. When I saw the title of the book a couple years back, I said I'd wait for the inevitable movie, and, lo, here it is. I don't know how the movie compares to the book, although since the screenwriter is Seth Grahame-Smith, I'm going to assume it's pretty close.


Comments (27) RSS

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Cato the Younger Younger 1
Wait until next summer's biggest movie hits:

"JFK: Annihilator of the Borg"
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on June 22, 2012 at 5:24 PM · Report this
Cato the Younger Younger 2
"Ask not what the collective can do for you but ask what you can do to destroy the collective!"
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on June 22, 2012 at 5:25 PM · Report this
disintegrator 3
@1: I want that movie.
Posted by disintegrator on June 22, 2012 at 5:28 PM · Report this
ScienceNerd 4
Pffft doesn't come close to "Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter".
Posted by ScienceNerd on June 22, 2012 at 5:31 PM · Report this
" He doesn't want Mary Todd Lincoln (Mary Elizabeth Winstead, bland in a bland role)..." A non-crazyassed Mary Todd Lincoln? That just ain't right.

"Gandhi- Slayer of the Undead" Reincarnate that, bitch!
Posted by Large Hardon Colluder on June 22, 2012 at 6:04 PM · Report this
Wait, no gay sex scenes? This is untrue to the historical Lincoln.
Posted by Subdued Excitement on June 22, 2012 at 6:31 PM · Report this
Teslick 7
1: Best comment of the day.
Posted by Teslick on June 22, 2012 at 6:54 PM · Report this
Reverse Polarity 8
I cannot think of a single reason why anyone over the age of about 17 would want to see this. It looks completely silly and preposterous, and not in a good way.
Posted by Reverse Polarity on June 22, 2012 at 7:01 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 9
@ 1 wins Slog today.
Posted by Matt from Denver on June 22, 2012 at 7:04 PM · Report this
Supreme Ruler Of The Universe 10
This is what happens when a basically cool idea gets ground up in the inevitable hoary narrative that is the ideology of the Socialist Aristocracy.

Everyone has to be assuaged. Everything has to be justified.

Tim Burton, fey, brilliant...whimsical...could never just "do a vampire movie".

No, it has to be one that the New York Times can say is brilliant. And whimsical.

For me this is an interesting test of my The Remaining Two Movie Audiences Theory.

As you may remember, my theory says there are only two movie audiences today.

(1) Pre-Teens escaping the house. They want vampire movies.

(2) Toddlers with parents trying to find something to quiet them down on Saturday. They want movies that look and sound like cartoons. Transformers.

What Tim Burton has done is taken the tried and saleable vampire format and obviously created some unwatchable mishmash that only people at the Huffington Post can appreciate. But...will the mere presence of the word "Vampire" bring the pre-teens? They make it even worse by saying its a "vampire hunter" movie. Gee, that blows about half the fun out the gasbag from the get go.
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe on June 22, 2012 at 7:05 PM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 11
#1 OMG are the Borg still out there? Christ I better make plans as, you know resistance is...
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on June 22, 2012 at 7:07 PM · Report this
OuterCow 12
This movie was not good.
Posted by OuterCow on June 22, 2012 at 8:11 PM · Report this
HeyHeyUW 13
Teddy Roosevelt: Lycan Slayer
Posted by HeyHeyUW on June 22, 2012 at 8:16 PM · Report this
Just Jeff 14
I miss Lindy.
Posted by Just Jeff on June 22, 2012 at 8:44 PM · Report this
@4 Do I really need to explain this? Let's see... died, was buried, escaped from his grave after three days, and wants people to drink his blood to spread his influence. I think it's pretty obvious that Jesus Christ *is* a vampire.
Posted by madcap on June 22, 2012 at 9:00 PM · Report this
Gern Blanston 16
There's another Lincoln movie starring Daniel Day Lewis that comes out later this year. I assume he doesn't kill vampires, zombies or werewolves in that one.
Posted by Gern Blanston on June 22, 2012 at 9:27 PM · Report this
Doctor Memory 17
Hey, remember that brief moment two months ago when Bailo was actually taking his meds and saying things that almost made sense? Thank god that's over.

#10: you are possibly the only thing in the world dumber than this movie.
Posted by Doctor Memory on June 22, 2012 at 11:05 PM · Report this
The book has been kind of fun in a summer read kind of way...but I'm only a little way in. Not to Mary Todd yet and dang she had a real-life interesting life as did Todd Lincoln.
Posted by david on June 22, 2012 at 11:16 PM · Report this
bugwitch 19
A message to Hollywood: I give up...

On another note...Bye bye Jerry...up next, the Pope.
Posted by bugwitch on June 22, 2012 at 11:17 PM · Report this
delirian 20
@15: I always assumed that he was a zombie. After all, it appears that he has devoured the brains of every one of his followers.
Posted by delirian on June 23, 2012 at 7:44 AM · Report this
JensR 21
@10 you must be a very lonely man...

I'm actually planning to see it! At the cinema (not download)! See I figure that since all I know about Lincoln is, basicly, that he was part in the American civil war, a president, he was shot in the neck by an assassin and he had a great beard.
I'll see it with out the cultural baggage (what @10 would probably call "the socialist, communist, brain wash propaganda worm") and perhaps enjoy it!
Posted by JensR on June 23, 2012 at 8:11 AM · Report this
GlamB0t 22
@4 Agreed.


Posted by GlamB0t on June 23, 2012 at 8:17 AM · Report this
Last of the Time Lords 23
@1, will JFK have sex with the Borg Queen?
Posted by Last of the Time Lords on June 23, 2012 at 10:30 AM · Report this
ScienceNerd 24
@15, you have obviously not seen "Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter". I forgive you. :)
Posted by ScienceNerd on June 23, 2012 at 10:31 AM · Report this
This was one of the worst movies Ive ever seen.
So terrible. Everything about it was bad. And the chase scene of them running across the backs of a herd of galloping horses was extremely retarded.
Posted by stupid dumb movie on June 23, 2012 at 10:22 PM · Report this
Well I just have to say, thank god someone in Hollywood decided to make a movie about vampires. It's about time.
Posted by TheBadSeed131313 on June 24, 2012 at 10:50 AM · Report this
biju 27
Night watch and day watch were both pretty fun to watch.
Posted by biju on June 27, 2012 at 10:31 PM · Report this

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