ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER - Absurd, Fun

 

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10

Oh, all those famous tales of our 16th US President. Reading and writing by candlelight as a boy and young man. Giving milk carton speeches in Springfield. The Emancipation Proclamation, Gettysburg Address, and several more famous speeches and deeds alike. And of course, there's the way he singlehandedly stopped the rise of vampires in this country. Yeah, that too.

Once you get past the absurdity of the premise of this film — Abraham Lincoln's life has been constantly altered by vampiric presence, from the death of his mother, full circle to the death of his son, leading him to train and hunt them down — it is actually quite fun. The absurdity, however, simply can't be overlooked throughout the entire film. What are meant to be touching moments instead turn into hilarious ones. Lines written to show a deep emotional connection instead come off as funny or just plain old corny. And historical moments being tied directly to vampires (a famous battle in the Civil War for instance) are just ridiculous. Absurd, that really is the only word for it.

But you know what? That's exactly what writer Seth Grahame-Smith intended! When he was promoting the novel, he told the story of going to a bookstore, seeing lots of Abe Lincoln biographies and lots of vampire novels, and deciding combining the two would be gold... and absurd. Turns out, he was right on both accounts.

The thing that lets this absurdity turn into some good action-y fun is the very straight performances delivered by the film's leads, especially Benjamin Walker, Abe Lincoln himself. Walker never varies in even the slightest way from being the hard of convictions and easy-to-like Lincoln. He is so confident in his delivery, whether it be delivering a line directly out of history books or delivering an axe swing (silver tipped of course) to the face of a vampire, that you can't help but like him and want to see more. Timur Bekmambetov falls back on the slow-mo action just a few too many times (really, Timur, buddy, you don't have to use the slow-mo jump spin. It's over. It's okay. It's just not a thing anymore), but for the most part delivers fun, over-the-top action with lots of spraying gore reminiscent of Quentin Tarantino or the Japanese directors he mimics.

If the actors weren't so likable, however, it would be a very different story. There's not much more to the plot than the two line description given earlier; its basically Abraham Lincoln's life from boyhood to the night of his death, but with vampires. Dominic Cooper and Anthony Mackie as Lincoln's sidekicks (for the most part) are engaging, if somewhat predictable in their roles, and Rufus Sewel as the head vampire and big bad is a classic mustache-twirling overconfident villain, exactly what this movie needed. Mary Elizabeth Winstead's Mary Todd Lincoln gets her moment in the spotlight, and it made for one of the best bits in the movie. Two out of the three big action set pieces are actually seen in the trailers and TV spots, but in big screen goodness it is still a more fun experience.

Most moviegoers can probably tell if they'll enjoy this movie from just the premise and one trailer. If you think the premise sounds funny or entertaining and the trailer made you excited to see this movie, well, what you see is what you get. If you're going to have a movie title that says it all, let it be Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. I just can't wait for the sequels, Chester A. Arthur: Demon Slayer and William Taft: Zombie Killer.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is in theaters now

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