Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Every once in awhile a movie will come along with a title and premise so absurd that you just have to check it out. It started with Snakes on a Plane, and most recently it was Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. I recently had the chance to check out the latter, and it wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d expected.

The best thing about movies like this is the title basically sums up the story. It is simply a film about Abraham Lincoln hunting vampires. As IMDb explains: “Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, discovers vampires are planning to take over the United States. He makes it his mission to eliminate them.”

These days, anything remotely associated with vampires garners a lot of attention, so who better to bring Seth Grahame-Smith’s novel (he also penned the screenplay) to life than Timur Bekmambetov, who directed both Night Watch and Day Watch. With that said, bringing in such a heavy hitter in the vampire industry debunked the notion that the film was going to be sloppy and silly just to cash in on the genre; in fact, I found the opposite to be true.

I actually expected Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter to be ridiculous and poke fun at itself; instead, the movie actually takes itself seriously. While this initially seems even more absurd, I was impressed with how well the filmmakers were able to make it work. Don’t get me wrong, the movie wasn’t great, but it certainly wasn’t as bad as one might think. Personally, I came to think of it as a really good "B" movie.

Let me start with the things I enjoyed. First and foremost, I was impressed with the performances. Benjamin Walker may not be an A-list star, but in my opinion he did a great job as Abraham Lincoln. His talent, combined with good looks, will no doubt pave the way to future opportunities in Hollywood.

Dominic Cooper was solid as always portraying Henry Sturgess, while Mary Elizabeth Winstead made a convincing Mary Todd Tyler. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention Jimmi Simpson, who played Joshua Speed. I’m not exactly sure as to why, but I really enjoyed his routine and felt he complimented Walker nicely.

Another thing I enjoyed were the visuals. While the film is not true to history (there are vampires involved after all), I found the sets, costumes and the like reminded me of the Civil War era. Historical accuracy was not the movie’s strong suit, but they polished it up in other ways and made it work.

Likewise, I enjoyed most of the action sequences, though there were a few that seemed to be in the film just to spice up the 3D offering (i.e. fighting atop stampeding horses and atop a train).

Balancing things out on the negative side of things, aside from the aforementioned corny action scenes, were a few weak spots in the story. The origin and specifics surrounding the vampires in the film was not properly fleshed out; likewise, the hard and fast rules regarding vampires was spotty. For example, in the film silver is deadly to vampires, a quite common theme in the genre, but it appeared villains in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter were able to walkabout in the daylight. Attention to detail is important, but there were cases in the film where it was certainly cut.

For what it’s worth, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter’s success at the box office was lukewarm in its opening weekend. The film, which cost an estimated $70 million to make, brought in just $16.5 million and debuted in the number-three spot behind both Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted ($20.2 million) and Brave ($66.7 million).

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter proved to be entertaining. As previously mentioned, it wasn’t anything great, but in this case I think entertaining is about as much as anyone could ask for. 

Buddies Forever Movie Club Rating: 58%

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