Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is one of the more absurd movies coming out this summer. The trailer gave the impression that movie could be great, but could have been equally horrible. While far from perfect, it’s one hell of a fun movie.
One of the things that Lincoln does best is not lose sight of the fact that people are here to see the 16th President kill the undead. While not the only focus of the movie, there are plenty of action scene peppered throughout the movie the keep the audience glued to the screen. Many are shot in slow motion, which just adds to the general bad assery that Lincoln is performing. It’s the over the top lunacy that makes it fun to watch. The actors are all serious, and so are Lincoln’s voice overs, but the situations are so insane that the audience can’t help but laugh. And Lincoln revels in this. The creators seem to understand that if they made a serious film it wouldn’t be taken…..well seriously. For a movie that takes Lincoln’s life in a whole new direction, it surprisingly gets a lot of it right. The general points are there, ones that every person learns in a history 101 class in high school. Many famous figures from the Civil War period appear, like Stephen A. Douglas and Jefferson Davis. Audiences should know who they are, but if not, go Google them now. The entire movie has a B-movie fun to it. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is one that people will love to see in a group.
As said before, this film is far from perfect. The contrast of crazy scenes with actors playing it straight will turn some people off. While I don’t agree, it’s easy to see why some have this feeling. There are a couple of huge plot holes. One deals with Mary Todd, and suddenly not being engaged anymore. She is stated as being engaged to Stephen Douglas, then suddenly she is going on dates with Lincoln. Stephen Douglas is also cut short. He shows the signs of being a vampire, but then is suddenly gone from the movie. Being a history major, I was hoping for a big Lincoln/Douglas throw down. There is also a problem with momentum. About two-thirds of the way through the movie, we jump forward from young Abe, to old Abe. We then have to sit through Abe getting his determination back and pick up the ax again. This may have worked in the book, but it doesn’t translate over well. Lincoln goes through some family issues and such, which destroy the atmosphere that up to that point was a blast to watch. While the fun mood comes back near the end, it would have been nice to keep the fun ramping up the entire time.
The script is surprisingly decent. It’s not the best in the world, but there have been a lot worse in movies with higher budgets. There are a few one-liners, but none that are insanely quotable. It would have been easy for the screenwriters to phone in the script and just let the audience watch the action. But the characters do have some good moments. The script toys with the long standing nickname “Honest Abe” in a humorous way. The dialogue never goes into any really idioms of the time, keeping the script from being hooky.
The direction should be noted, but only for the action scenes. The use of slow motion is one that needs to be used well. Sherlock Holmes used it well, but then Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows didn’t. This is more on the good side. Lincoln uses it in every scene, but it’s to show the over the top action that’s going on. Sometimes, like a huge horse battle, it could have been toned down and just let the chaos reign.
Special effects are a mixed bag. The vampires look great in close ups, but the huge battle scenes are rough around the edges. During a big horse battle scene, it’s painfully obvious where the special effects are being edited in and where the real actors are. Seeing the movie in 3D only exacerbates the problems. There have been worse 3D conversions, but there is no real reason to see the movie in 3D. I was forced too.
The actors seem to be having a fun time in each of their roles. Benjamin Walker plays the 16th President. His Lincoln is good, and even when the crap hits the fan in huge action scenes, he still seems like Lincoln. It also helps that he looks almost exactly like Lincoln the second a shadow is thrown on him. Much like the plot, he seems to have some trouble when the film jumps years in the future and movie is reestablishing him as a hero. The same can be said of Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who plays Mary Todd. She does her best, but this collection of scenes clash with the rest of the film, so her acting seems slightly awkward. She is likable, but isn’t given much to do. Dominic Cooper does an acceptable job as Henry, Lincoln’s vampire killing trainer. He’s a likable guy, but keeps his allegiances hidden well. Even late in the film it’s somewhat uncertain what side he is on.
Movie studios, take note: if you put Alan Tudyk in your movie, it is automatically better.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter almost demands that you go in with the right state of mind. Don’t expect any Oscar worthy performances. Go in expecting an over the top good time. It’s kick-ass, and stupidly awesome.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter gets 4/5.