Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter has a few good moments, but overall it is really only worth either seeing in a dollar theater or renting it. Despite game attempts to shoehorn the rather absurd story into real history, it simply doesn’t work.

Here’s a trailer:

The deets:

Released June 22, 2012

Written by Seth Grahame-Smith, based on his novel

Directed by Timur Bekmambetov

Starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Benjamin Walker, Rufus Sewell, Erin Wasson, Anthony Mackie, Dominic Cooper, Marton Csokas, and Jimmi Simpson

Rated: R

*     *     *     *     *

Story

Abe Lincoln, at the age of 9 or so, watches a vampire kill his mother, giving rise to a justified hatred of the creatures. After adult Abe (Walker) fails to kill the vampire, Barts (Csokas), he is rescued by Henry Sturgess (Cooper) who then trains Lincoln in how to kill vampires and how to be an effective vampire hunter.

Sturgess has remarkable strength, is super fast, and wears makeup and sunglasses  during the day, but somehow Abe, the guy who taught himself to read and write and who taught himself law, doesn’t ever wonder why Sturgess has these abilities.

But I digress.

After a training montage, Lincoln moves to Springfield, Illinois (yes, history!), where he takes work as a shopkeeper and he tries to get his career as a lawyer and public servant going, while moonlighting as a killer of vampires. A splashy, gory killer of vampires, that is. On the day he starts his life in Springfield, he meets Mary (Winstead), a smart, tradition-bucking woman who is also very lovely. There’s a spark, of course, between them and history tells us the ending to their story.

We also discover that Barts isn’t really the big baddie that we thought he was. Instead, there’s a fellow named Adam (Sewell) who is purported to be the father of all the vampires in the USA at the time. Note: this is the source of a rather significant plot hole. Adam, of course, has a murderous and insane right arm who happens to be beautiful, named Vadoma (Wasson).

It turns out the the vampires are running the South and they are using slaves as food.

The story moves from Lincoln as a young aspiring lawyer and fellow in love to him getting married, then to him as president, all in a blink. Now Lincoln has to deal with the seceding South, knowing that the Confederate army is populated by vampires.

All of this culminates in a logistically impossible plan that somehow comes off all right in the end, with a bombastic final battle on a train that is falling into a flaming gorge.

Oh yeah, there’s also the inexplicable presence of Will Johnson (Mackie).

Of course Adam dies, although we don’t see this happen so maybe he didn’t, but why aren’t all the vampires then destroyed? Isn’t that the normal way the legend goes? So maybe that’s indicative of Adam not dying and is the setup for a sequel.

If that’s the case, the title of the sequel had better be Ulysses Grant: Lycan Killer or Rutherford: Undead Slayer.

Critique

What, do you really need a critique after those digs up there? The plot of this movie is so slapdash, so poorly paced, so unfocused, so broad and ungainly yet myopic, that you come out of the movie totally unsure of what you just saw.

Was it a light-hearted, deliberately campy action film? The truly horrendous CG makes one think that. Seriously, is it that hard to make the crowd look less than copied and pasted automatons? Or was it a serious film that for some reason took great pleasure in duplicating scenes from movies like Sin City?

The screenplay is atrocious, which just goes to show you that novelists maybe ought to stick to writing novels.

Then there’s the direction, which is responsible for the uneven and jarring pacing. Then there’s the makeup which is poorly done to make the aging characters appear really close to the actual people. Then there’s the

EVERYTHING ELSE

Only the acting is somewhat good. Rufus Sewell is always a pleasure to watch; he’s slimy and arrogant and fun. Ben Walker really does a nice impersonation of Lincoln, which is all he’s really called upon to do.

And the ultimate crime? Putting Alan Tudyk in a wasted, bit part that asks nothing of him. Gah. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is hands-down the worst film of the year. Yes, it’s worse than The Lorax.

Content warnings: Pretty sure there was some nudity, but the movie is so forgettably bad… Also, plenty of black vampire blood is spilled and there are some grody and scary images.

Writing: 1          Acting: 3.5          Overall: 1.5

You should share this four-score and seven times. Oh, and be sure to compare my review with those on Rotten Tomatoes.

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About jared

Jared Garrett works as a writer, the manager of a program development department in the corporate world, and an instructional designer. He is a family man with an adorable, fun, and way-too-smart wife, six silly kids, a new house with an overgrown back yard, seven fish, and a bunch of chickens. He has written fiction, user manuals, SEO copy, radio scripts and textbooks and has won first place in the Mayhew writing contest at BYU and received honorable mention in the Writers of the Future contest. He lives at the foot of the Wasatch Mountains and is currently seeking representation for his myriad completed novels.
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