Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012) Directed by Timur Bekmambetov. Starring: Benjamin Walker, Rufus Sewell and Dominic Cooper. IMDB says: “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.“
A great Summer movie is one that can quickly grab my attention and keep it, makes me care about its characters, and doesn’t make me think too hard. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is a nice piece of Summer cinema that fits those criteria.
AL:VH wastes no time with getting right to the action; other than slowing down just a tad in the beginning of the 3rd act just to wrap up some plot points, the movie is virtually non-stop action from beginning to end. The fight scenes were choreographed immaculately, I haven’t seen so much badassery with an axe since Paul Bunyan. I walked into the movie wondering why it received an R rating, about 15 minutes in I got my answer, AL:VH is wonderfully gory in all the best ways possible. There’s jaw-ripping, head-slicing, neck-eviscerations to go around.
In a world where Vampires are now looked at as sex symbols and glitter in sunlight, I LOVED that AL:VH made vamps look gruesome again. Even though the movie played a little fast and loose with Vampire Mythology (but let’s face it, who isn’t these days) it was nothing too outlandish. Another aspect I enjoyed about the movie was the use of 3D. As a 3D enthusiast, I love it when it’s done right, and AL:VH isn’t a one-trick pony when it comes to it; it gives the audience “pop-out” shots, great sense of depth, and sprawling landscapes. A scene in particular that I enjoyed was when the young Abe Lincoln is laying beside his mother, Abe is in the foreground while his mom is in the background.
Now for what I didn’t like, I know I said a good summer movie is one that doesn’t make me think too hard, but it would have been nice to see just a little more depth in the movie. The actors did a decent job portraying the characters as they were written, but I still would have like to have seen more. Although I was impressed overall with the 3D, there were some things that didn’t need to be 3D. For an example, there are a few scenes in the movie where there was a lot of dust floating in the air, now in 3D this dust appears to be floating into the audience thusly taking your attention away from the importance of the scene. Kinda annoying.
All in all, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is an enjoyable Summer movie romp. It’s something that I would recommend seeing in theaters. I will definitely be picking this one up on 3D Blu ray.
I thought that the plot in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter flowed a little weird. A lot of the plot was very stiff and forced. I knew that this was based on a book so I looked up the original novel after seeing the movie. I was surprised by how many differences there were between the two. The way that Lincoln finds out about vampires, his relationship with his father, the relationship with his mentor, the way that Lincoln goes about enacting his revenge, and the end of the movie are all different than what is written in the novel.
In the movie, Lincoln is forbidden by his father from fighting vampires after the death of his mother. Years later after his death (which was like the next scene), Lincoln has to be trained by Henry Sturges to learn how to kill vampires. Sturges refuses to let Lincoln enact his revenge until Sturges tells him its okay. In the meantime, Lincoln must kill a series of random vampires even though killing his mother’s murder would be in line with Sturges’ blanket goal of killing vampires. It felt as though the movie was trying to force tension in the plot. I looked up the plot of the book and it is completely different. In the book, Lincoln’s dad tells him about vampires and Lincoln begins his path of vengeance. He doesn’t even meet Henry Sturges until after he kills his mother’s murderer. The book is more about Lincoln hunting vampires than this thin plot that the movie concocted.
Another part of the movie that felt forced was Lincoln’s relationship with Mary Todd. The only drama in his relationship is that his mentor, Henry Sturges, forbids Lincoln from having friends and dating. This is played out awkwardly in the movie because Lincoln meets Todd while she is dating Stephen Douglas. Douglas seems extremely overprotective and glares at Lincoln like he would not give up Mary without a fight. Then he is suddenly and completely out of the picture a few scenes later with no altercation. Adding to the strangeness is the fact that Lincoln and Douglas were real life political rivals so they would have had to meet each other again.
So while Lincoln is falling in love with Mary, he is fighting his feelings because of a vow he made to Sturges. The movie reveals that the only reason Sturges requires this of Lincoln is because he lost someone years ago and doesn’t want Lincoln to go through the same thing. It seems like the writers were trying to force this to become an overly dramatic aspect of the film. It never really made sense why he had to avoid taking Mary as a love interest. In the book Lincoln doesn’t meet Mary until after he gives up hunting vampires to focus on politics.
The reason I bring up all of these differences is because these changes do not work in the movie. I constantly found myself wishing the plot would play out in a better way. In all of these instances, the version of the story in the book is better. I wanted this movie about Abraham Lincoln (a real life political figure that left a very well known legacy), who is fighting vampires while leading the country during the American Civil War to be really self aware and humorous. It’s a ridiculous premise and the book is considered to have handled it greatly. All the reviews I read praised the novel for its use of humor. The movie changed so much that they destroyed all the fun the novel seemed to impart of the story. It took itself completely seriously taking a lot of the fun out of the film. There are other weaknesses in the plot besides these, but they didn’t do as much to detract from the enjoyment of the film.
I am not a fan of 3D, so I am not sure I am one to judge how good the 3D is in Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter. The movie does take the time to aim weapons to the camera, which would probably seem corny in 2D. Also, every vampire shrieks into the camera at close up range at least once. The movie seems very digital and tries too hard. The camera will speed through the scene to show close ups and change angles during fights and fast scenes very swiftly. The movie also reminds me of movies that came out right after The Matrix. A majority of the fights include portions that are slowed down and sped up for effect. The special effects were fine for the movie they were aiming to make and the vampires looked good. None of the issues I had with the movie came from the actors themselves who all did a good job.
I feel as though if the writers of the movie followed the novel more, this could have been a very enjoyable movie. It seems like the people who made the movie had it in their minds that they were making an epic horror fantasy movie and it fell very short of that. I want to read the book now so I can enjoy the story that the movie failed to deliver.