Vampires have really gotten a bad rap over the past few years. Whether it be through horrible teenage dramas neutering the mythical creatures, or through mediocre sequels to lame franchises, the once fearsome creatures have lost a bit of their edge. Enter Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Based on the fake historical accounts of our 16th president this film really tries to make vampires awesome again. But how does it do? Is it a great summer flick, or should it take a stake through the heart?
Based very loosely on the book by Seth Grahame-Smith, it chronicles the the life of Abraham Lincoln, who becomes a vampire hunter after witnessing his mothers death at the hands of a vampire. For those of you who’ve read the book, expect a wildly different story. The only thing really carried over from book to film is the actual character of Abe, his wife Mary Todd, and mentor Henry Sturgess. Honestly? As a fan of the book, I always thought it would translate poorly to film without massive changes. There’s not much action, there’s not much actual vampire hunting, and there’s hardly any climax and resolution.
The film carries an entirely new plotline, still penned by Seth Grahame-Smith. And you know what? I liked the hell out of it. Its a classic tale of revenge and retribution, but with twists and turns in the story. It works well, and every character that they included in the film works great in the overall story. The script is well written, and really grounded in the period. It seems to drag at certain times with some very unnecessary dialog, but overall, it’s not bad. The cast really makes up for the scripts minor short comings, though. Benjamin Walker as honest Abe was a great choice. He shows real conviction with his character, and when he’s making the political speeches, there’s a power in his voice that makes it believable. The rest of the cast is great as well, with Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Mary Todd, and Dominic Cooper as Henry Sturgess being stand outs in their parts. Its a pretty simplistic plot when you look back at it, but it works because of the characters.
Now to the rest of the flick. I was really worried that the film was going to just portray the vampires as the classic bloosuckers, without really fleshing them out and going into too much detail. They completely went the opposite direction, though. They really fleshed them out, made them genuinely creepy looking, and gave them a lot of their classic powers, and made them look awesome in use. Unlike in some other films lately, they actually look like a genuinely freaky threat. There’s some pretty awesomely shot and choreographed fight scenes between Abe and the bloodsuckers, and they are really well done. Whether its in a stampede of wild horses, or on top of a moving train, it all looks beautiful, and is well shot and well thought out. Another couple of awesome scenes are straight from the battlefield, showing the troops going up against their undead foes. It all looks beautifully done, and surprisingly even looks good in 3d. The whole film just kind of oozes a a great aesthetic, and is impressively engrossing. The action is well done, the fight scenes look awesome, and the vampires are creepy. The film is on the right track. So why do some people hate it so much?
There’s alot of negative reviews out there so far. i avoided reading any of them before seeing the film, just so I wasn’t biased going in. The big complaint is the difference from book to film. Which I addressed, and completely think of it as a non-issue. The book was one thing, and the film is another. This is a film based on the characters, that varies from the book. Big deal, get over it. Another thing people are complaining about is the tone. People are up in arms over it’s serious tone, and how the film caries itself. It is a serious film, there’s no jokes, there’s no laughing. And it’s not a bad thing. What would have really killed the film is pointless humor injected just to suit an expected audience. There’s always going to be purists that prefer one form of media to the next. Personally? I think these two are alike in name only. They are two completely different experiences.
All in all? I thought it was a great summer action flick. There’s a good mix of story, action, and historical inaccuracy. It looks pretty, and if you go in with an open mind, it will keep you entertained. It gave vampires some balls again, and it deserves at least a little recognition for that. If you’re in the mood for some bloody action, this will do the trick nicely. It does have a little bit of pacing issues, but with enough action to keep you interested in the meantime.
4 out of 5
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