Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter Review: Dedicated To The Proposition Of Kicking Your Ass

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Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter Review: Dedicated To The Proposition Of Kicking Your *ss

By Joanna Robinson | Film Reviews | June 22, 2012 | Comments ()


You wouldn't expect something called Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter to take itself seriously, would you? Both the concept and the title are Snakes on a Plane-level ridiculous and the movie should be the kind of whiz-fang joyride that even the snobbiest of filmgoers can enjoy in the summertime. But then you have to remember that director Timur Bekmambetov is the same guy who asked us to swallow that Loom of Fate business in 2008's Wanted without the hint of a snicker. In fact, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, stuffed to the gills with slick action sequences and a cast that is far better than the material, achieves the same caliber of empty action as Wanted. Only, sadly, without the sexual oomph of Angelina Jolie.

In this film the oomph burden rests squarely on Benjamin Walker's broad shoulders as he plays our nation's 16th president from young railsplitter to Ford's Theatergoer. If Walker's tall frame and presidential glower remind you of Liam Neeson, it's no accident. He played a teenaged Kinsey in the 2004 biopic. Walker is best-known to theater lovers, however, as the sexually charged star of "Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson." But his Honest Abe lacks all the luster and incendiary charisma he poured into playing our 7th president. And though, once he dons the stovepipe and beard, the resemblance is uncanny, Walker here is much more National monument than flesh and blood. Based on Seth Grahame-Smith's best-selling novel, this version of our nation's history, has a young Lincoln lose his mother to vampires rather than the mysterious "milk sickness" of record and, thus, he and his childhood friend (played by Anthony Mackie who deserves better parts than this, Hollywood) grow up to hunt vampires.

Refreshingly, this is the first piece of fiction in recent memory that that doesn't ask us to sympathize with or romanticize vampires. The bad guys in this movie are not only undead, they're also slave-owners. Yup, racist vampires. That's right up there with Nazi zombies in the unsympathetic monster department. Sure there's one sucker with a heart of gold played by Dominic Cooper and his repentant vampire-turned-Miyagi is a highlight. In fact, much like the bullet curving scenes in Wanted, the axe-twirling training montages provide the film's only fun. Oh yeah, even Abe Lincoln: Vampire Hunter has a montage. Veteran bad guy Rufus Sewell does an absolutely adequate job in the glower/fang baring department and he and his leggy blonde co-hort provide plenty of menace for our hero. But the idea that the motivation behind Lincoln's political career was less about idealistic notions of equality and more about beating the stuffing out of Vampires is far too silly to be taken as seriously as it is.

But, at the very least, the film looks great. Cartoonish, but great. Bekmambetov (Night Watch, Day Watch) is a veteran when it comes to vampire flicks and the gothic styling suits the antebellum fashions to a T. Though overblown, the two large action sequences (a horse stampede chase scene and a fiery train ride), would be right at home in the kind of movie I wanted this to be. Any scene that ends with a horse being flung at one of our Nation's most famous faces should inspire reckless summertime cineplexian cheers. I wanted to love this movie. I left all my cynicism in the dust the minute I first heard the delightfully preposterous title. But with its oddly dour and stately tone, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter spoiled my fun. Lincoln may look great with an axe in his hand but, by the end, I was sick and tired of these motherf*cking vampires on this motherf*cking train.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • splinter

    just saw this. what a snore.

  • duckandcover

    PBS is currently slathering me with Rufus Sewell in Zen and now I get to see him on the silver screen? Considering most movie theaters here are giving $5-$6 days instead of the requisite $10.25+, I'm down to see this movie on my days off. I love me some Sewell.

  • ellcoolj

    Despite the temptation, this was never meant to be campy. It is a straight up period piece with fancy costumes, and antiquated dialogue... and vampires. I really did dig the ax twirling Abe a lot!!!

  • PerpetualIntern

    If you look at his face long enough, he looks like Logan from VMars.

  • Luke

    It does in the movie the first time you see him too

  • Johnnyboy

    My god. Am I the only adult in this forum old enough to get the presidential reference in the headline? >sigh<

  • Luke

    I enjoyed it...what I found funny was when alan tudyk showed up the entire audience knew who he was...clearly it was that type of audience

  • Serpentlord

    In fairness, the Wanted movie was substantially less retarded than the comic, which features a scene where Eminem yells "THIS IS MY FACE AS I'M FUCKING YOU IN THE ASS!"

  • Andrew Johnson

    If AL:VH were 15 minutes long and had the watermark 'College Humour' then yes.
    Otherwise, no.

  • Rolls Eyes

  • I can't wait for the sequel,"Jefferson Davis,Killer of Yankee Zombies".

  • Long_Pig_Tailor

    No, the sequel will be Teddy Roosevelt: American Van Helsing, because Fuck. Yes.

  • Chich

    Or just a spin-off: Harriett Tubman: Vampire Slayer

  • PDamian

    Anthony Mackie deserves better parts? Honey, they all do -- Csokas, Sewell, Walker, Purcell, and Mackie. And the horse stampede battle was ludicrous. The training montage was pretty good, and Walker as younger Abe gave me a small but definite oomph, but once he put the beard on, all was lost.

    Don't know if anyone else will feel this way, but while the axe-spinning was pretty cool, I still couldn't stop thinking about drum majorettes and baton-twirling. If the acting doesn't pan out, Walker may have a shot at Miss America.

  • Palaeologos

    Pretty much agree with the review: A well-made disappointment. None of the characters outside of Henry grabbed me, despite the considerable potential material (to say nothing of satire) here. Fun, watchable, but utterly forgettable.

  • special snowflake

    I don't like that word, 'antebellum', never have. Whoever made up that word shouldn't have. It's a stupid, useless, pretentious word, describing a vague timeframe of questionable interpretation with the reckless allowance for too much subjectivity by its user.
    Any user but you, Joanna; there isn't a word too archaic or imbecilic that you can't refine, re-mold, or resurrect to infinitely new and exciting levels of linguistic freshness.
    I love your wordplay, in terms like "whiz-fang joyride" and "absolutely adequate job" - this review is a prime example of giving all of the necessary information one would need in decisionmaking, while being a very enjoyable read at the same time.
    I really appreciate and admire your writing, Joanna, and I never say that enough- it's a (sniff) damn shame that it takes a Friday afternoon and (bhhrrffff-'scuse me) a six-pack of Bud Light longnecks just to - (sobbing) just to say...th-thanks and dammit I was afraid this would happen

  • Pete

    Yeah, fuck those Latin speakers for using their language to describe a pre-war state of affairs.

  • BWeaves

    This is the type of movie (and book) where the title gives me chuckles and then I'm completely over it. It's too much like the "In My Pants" game. You giggle over the made up title, and then order another beer.

  • Tyburn Blossom

    I read the book and spent the whole thing waiting for it to get interesting or fun. I didn't dislike it or anything, but I was sort of vaguely disappointed when I realized it was over and the fun had never started.
    If it could have been somewhere in the midpoint between the nausea-enducing badness of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and the all-too somber attitude of the book, I'd have been thrilled.

  • Fredo

    I picked up AL:VH after a brother of mine left it laying around the house and read it in one long weekend. I could have told you that the tongue-in-cheek/this is for laughs folks tone you expect from such a title was nowhere to be found. In Timur's defense, he simply followed what Seth Grahame-Smith wrote down.

    This was never going to be a fun and goofy movie.

  • Jim Johnson

    That's why I'm not really discouraged by the reviews for this. Most of them were expecting over the top craziness, and that's not what this is. Not that I wouldn't love a crazy, over the top movie with this premise, but I also liked the story of the novel so I'm still looking forward to seeing this. Might go tomorrow.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    But...Sewell? and Cooper? but the...so much sexy...

    though actually Walker himself looks decidedly unsexy in the header pic. He was pretty sweet in "Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson" (not many people can claim murderous presidents as typecasting)

  • psemophile

    Ah well...
    So, what's Bekmambetov doing next?

  • Groundloop

    Dawn Watch and Dusk Watch?

  • Wanted was just ok fun and SOAP was too ridiculous to work. Plus snakes freak me out. So I'm unlikely to see this if it can't live up to those movies. And I'm tired of vampires. We're way past overdone at this point.

  • John G.

    bummer :(

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