Movie News

The Kidd Vs. ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER

Published at: June 21, 2012, 5:19 p.m. CST

 

I once had hope for the movie adaptation of ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER. With WANTED’s Timur Bekmambetov at the helm, at least it’d have a visual flair to make this rather unique revisionist tale of Abraham Lincoln’s secret life nice to look at. Couple that with Seth Grahame-Smith, the writer of the novel, penning the script for the big screen treatment of his own literary work, and now you’ve got the story in good hands, too, right…? People who get ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER are going to be making it, right? Well, if that was the case, then what we wound up with wouldn’t have turned out to be such a complete and total piece of shit. And, even by calling it as such, I feel like I may be a bit too positive in my assessment. This film is absolutely atrocious. Then again, that’s what happens when you take an interesting book that came together well enough to be a New York Times Best Seller and change nearly everything about it that makes it both good and different. What makes it so unforgivable is that it was Grahame-Smith making that translation, and the author himself didn’t get what actually made his original work for readers. How does that even happen? I really don’t want to waste time trying to compare book and movie, because they’re two totally different stories really, the main difference being that the one on the page is riveting and the other isn’t even close to that. But it’s the movie’s lack of historical context, its inability to grasp any sort of emotional depth and its reliance on “Hey, look… Abraham Lincoln is fighting vampires, isn’t that cool?” that really sends it into the territory of horrendous cinema.

AL:VH wastes absolutely no time in trying to get an axe in Honest Abe’s hands, as it’s only 10 minutes in before we’re already being treated to a training montage. In the few minutes before, we’re rushed through the death of Lincoln’s mother, so it doesn’t mean anything, even if it is the catalyst for him wanting to hunt vampires, any type of relationship with his father is ignored, because the elements of the story where that would have mattered have been removed and his dislike of slavery, which amounts to his childhood friend is black, and he saw him get whipped once and… well, that should connect the dots enough for you in the audience if character development uses up too many brain cells for you. As for how his training even comes about, it’s pretty obvious that when a stranger – Henry Sturgess, played by Dominic Cooper, who has done much better work than this - approaches you in a bar, and then you see that same guy come to your rescue later, wielding information rather freely about vampires and asking if you’d like to learn how to kill them, you say “Yes.” Yet with his vengeance for his mother being the sole reason he’s so eager to sign up, it might have helped to get some idea of how important his mother was to him… maybe she taught him to read and write, maybe she encouraged his intellectual curiosity, maybe she was always there for him, maybe it was a number of things that really brought them close together. Unfortunately, there’s no time for showing us any of that, if it means less time away from Lincoln chopping down trees with a single swing in a fit of cheaply done visual effects. And the visuals only get worse, as a chase through wild horses that involves a thrown equine and a couple of participants leaping across them as if they were cars in a modern era action flick laughably prove.

Lincoln (Benjamin Walker, who manages to play the older Lincoln far more convincingly than the younger) makes a deal with Sturgess to take out vampires selected for him in exchange for his training, but no thought or explanation is ever given to why these particular vampires are being selected or why Sturgess wants them taken out in the first place. Too bad that’s just the tip of the iceberg of the film’s stupidity. We’re later treated to Lincoln’s budding romance with Mary Todd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) that feels like a dialogue exchange that might have taken place during the performance of a high school play, and to cap it all off, when it’s time for Mary Todd and Lincoln to profess their feelings to each other eye-to-eye, Winstead is able to stand upon his top hat in order to achieve the desired height. Let me run that back for you once more… a top hat was capable of supporting the weight of a grown woman.

Worst of all, there’s no historical context whatsoever. There’s no attention paid to the time in which all of this is happening. How else do you explain Lincoln getting a history lesson on vampires in the form of a slideshow/movie? Yeah… in the 1830s… exactly. Furthermore, Lincoln’s politics and his reasoning for heading into the Civil War are completely glossed over, because why bother laying out any type of rationale for the characters when you can just get the Union and the Confederates, complete with vampire troops, on the battlefield fighting? The Civil War, which made up a small fraction of the book, winds up being a major piece of the film, but, without the proper foundation to get to such a key moment in Lincoln’s life, it becomes nothing more than a series of action beats and a way to incorporate more vampire action into the film. Toss in a train sequence made-up entirely for the film that sends the message that the Civil War was won with forks, while, at the same time, adding nothing to the overall story but more special effects, and you wind up wondering if the creative forces involved here were metaphorically trying to tell us they know what a train wreck they’ve made.

  

ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER has been absolutely gutted as a compelling story to see in going from page to screen, but the visuals can’t even be defended for delivering eye candy. The film looks cheaply made, and, even though I wasn’t a fan of Bekmambetov’s last film WANTED, I could at least acknowledge he was able to give me some cool things to look at. Not so much here, as Bekmambetov looks to have graduated from the Zack Snyder School for Action Filmmaking, using slow motion every single chance he gets and maybe even creating a few more chances just to he can use it some more.

Characters are created for no apparent reason other than a token black guy (Anthony Mackie) in a movie that takes place during the Civil War might be a good idea. Other characters are introduced within five minutes of them dying, rending their involvement rather useless, since their lives didn’t resonate at all in order for their deaths to mean a damn thing. This movie is a fuckin’ mess, and rather than head out to the theatre to catch this one, you’re better off cracking open ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER in book form. At least that way you can get engaged with a story that you want to keep progressing through until the end, unlike what you get on-screen which really will have you wishing it will stop sooner rather than later. If there’s one thing I owe Abraham Lincoln’s contributions to the United States, it’s a bit of honesty about this film, so here goes… it sucks. Now I feel I’ve served my country well. 

 

-Billy Donnelly

"The Infamous Billy The Kidd"

BillyTheKidd@aintitcool.com

Follow me on Twitter.

Readers Talkback

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  • June 21, 2012, 5:22 p.m. CST

    I had high hopes for this.

    by TheMachinist

  • June 21, 2012, 5:23 p.m. CST

    Looks like this will bomb

    by theBigE

    I thought I might go check it out tomorrow, but this thing's looking weak.

  • June 21, 2012, 5:23 p.m. CST

    Can't say I'm surprised...

    by John Brown

    ...looked horrible.

  • June 21, 2012, 5:25 p.m. CST

    All of the actors look CG in the trailers...

    by rapscallion86

  • June 21, 2012, 5:29 p.m. CST

    Oh, c'mon. Nobody was expecting anything from this piece of shit

    by RedLeaderStandingBy

  • June 21, 2012, 5:32 p.m. CST

    The trailer reminds me of League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen

    by Lone Fox

    And this review could easily be applied to that disaster too.

  • June 21, 2012, 5:32 p.m. CST

    I can not wait to see this

    by BADBOYBROM HC

    Im sure I'll enjoy it immensely. There's no way it be a worse and bitterly disappointing movie than that piece of shit prometheous was.

  • June 21, 2012, 5:39 p.m. CST

    by Anais

    couldn't agree more. i have never left a movie theater more annoyed than i did that day.

  • June 21, 2012, 5:40 p.m. CST

    They should have got that dude...

    by QuandraX

    ...who directed The Mummy to make it. Stephen Sommers. I liked The Mummy movies. I won't be seeing this Abe Lincoln flick, though.

  • June 21, 2012, 5:45 p.m. CST

    Not surprising at all -

    by Ryan

    Shit looks terrible. http://batstud.blogspot.com/

  • June 21, 2012, 5:45 p.m. CST

    Damn it.

    by fanboy71

    I recently read the book, and was hoping the film would stay close to the source. Then I started seeing the trailers and feared that it would be Wild Wild West 2 or something. At least I wont waste money seeing it in theaters now. Thanks for the review, but not for the bad news.

  • June 21, 2012, 5:49 p.m. CST

    The best part of this review . . .

    by jocutus

    . . . Is where Kidd demands the movie explain why Lincoln was upset vampires killed his mother, and hypothesizes that a compelling reason is that his mom may have taught him to read. How about this reason: They killed his mom? If someone viciously killing your mother is NOT enough of a reason to go out for vengeance, THAT would require an explanation. The Second best thing is his horror that things have been changed form the book, as if it is some sort of revered classic. Almost as funny as the guy I heard complaining about season 2 of Game of Thrones, saying "They're just making stuff up now!"

  • June 21, 2012, 5:50 p.m. CST

    Does The Kidd like any movies?

    by Red_Right_Return

    Or are all movies just shit now?

  • June 21, 2012, 5:51 p.m. CST

    did somebody

    by macheesmo3

    just request Stephen Sommers to direct something? Yep, the Mayans were right, or at least SHOULD have been right anyway..... prometheus was an excellent film btw, if you wanna be hipsters and simpletons didn't get it, it's yer own fault. grow a little attention span and learn how to pay attention

  • June 21, 2012, 5:51 p.m. CST

    So the crew of the USS Abe Lincoln were cheering for a shit movie???

    by Tikidonkeypunch

    I can't lie, I'll still Netflix this.

  • Not to mention called out a couple of plants.

  • June 21, 2012, 5:57 p.m. CST

    Something Ebert wrote in his review...

    by Scorchy

    ....and he was actually positive in it....anyway, he wrote that after the first day's battle in Gettysburg, Lincoln despairs before coming to the realization that all of the silver in Washington could be used against the undead army. So, the next thing we see is the silver being melted and sent to Gettysburg - ALL IN ONE DAY. Not even accounting for how long it took for information to be received in Washington from the battlefield, the fact that all of that stuff could be done in a day is retarded. I can suspend disbelief about the vampires. But stuff like that I cannot forgive.

  • June 21, 2012, 5:57 p.m. CST

    In Kidd I Trust

    by Chaz

    The closing statement was classic. Thank you.

  • June 21, 2012, 5:59 p.m. CST

    Saw one reviewer refer to it as "this year's 'Jonah Hex'"

    by Aragorn742

    Currently sitting at 30% on rottentomatoes.com...

  • June 21, 2012, 5:59 p.m. CST

    Vs.

    by vanchimera

    This The Kidd VS bullshit is essentially a cop out for not wanting to come up with clever story titles, right? Because it's fucking pompous as shit to me. Anyhow.

  • The Kidd's biggest problem (outside of his junior high writing style) is that he doesn't pay attention to the movies he reviews. This movie may suck, but I have no doubt that the Kidd missed the point.

  • June 21, 2012, 6:01 p.m. CST

    Amusing...

    by The_Smirking_Revenge

    that people are shocked this was gonna turn out a big pile of steaming shit. The book is fantastic, and when I heard they were turning it into a movie, I was like "ok, totally in." Then I heard the ass-clown that made Wanted (a movie I walked out on after a ridiculous Viper chase scene) was helming the thing and lost hope. Then found out the author was penning the script, ok, back on board (tentatively). Then the kicker, Burton's producing... Even better. Then I saw the trailer and the lingering hope disolved. It looked awfull from the get-go. Too glossy, too much "look at Lincoln acting like a superhero, doing Trinity-kicks and Matrix Kung-Fu." It was fucking clown shoes. Glad I read this review, cuz I was tempted to give it a shot, but now I won't have to waste the money.

  • June 21, 2012, 6:03 p.m. CST

    Kidd, tell us how you REALLY feel.

    by Chris

  • I'm still checking this out.

  • June 21, 2012, 6:16 p.m. CST

    Settle Down Beavis...

    by A-COD

    I don't know about Billy, this was the first review I read and I thought "Uh-oh", but everybody else seems to be giving Abe a pass. Ebert went 3 stars. The tracking is abysmal but despite the Kid's bitch fest, I may still check it out, I bet it will be fun. Probably will be on Blu Ray by Labor day.

  • George Washington: Pirate Hunter "I cannot tell a lie: You mutherfuckin' pirates' gonna die!!"

  • June 21, 2012, 6:52 p.m. CST

    I don't like his reviews...

    by Red_Right_Return

    but I trust this one. http://www.dreadcentral.com/news/56637/history-made-check-out-our-abraham-lincoln-vampire-hunter-review

  • June 21, 2012, 6:59 p.m. CST

    People, it's someone else's opinion.

    by BALTIMOREJACK

    Are some of you such sheep that you'll take one person's word (someone who rarely likes anything and treats every review like he's in some kind of Bloodsport kumate against a piece of celluloid) over actually making your own judgements? Give me a break. After skimming the review and seeing it end with "it sucks", really only made me want to see the film more. Saying something "sucks" should require a reviewer to hand in their critic card immediately.

  • June 21, 2012, 7:08 p.m. CST

    stupid idea stupid concept

    by shane peterson

    and people on this site bitch about Prometheus? Fuck.

  • June 21, 2012, 7:17 p.m. CST

    Whose fault was it?

    by Green

    Never read the Grahame-Smith draft, so I don't know if he's to blame. He did write the book which has gotten a lot of good feedback, so I find it hard to believe he would willingly gut the thing. As a director, I think Bekmambetov did a very good job mixing fantasy and good character work in NIGHTWATCH and DAYWATCH films (I'm talking about the original versions before they were cut to ribbons and re-edited for an American audience by Fox Searchlight). My guess is a lot of this was the studio's doing. Blazing through (or cutting out) character stuff just to get to the action is just par for the course. I can just hear a suit saying "well, the movie doesn't really BEGIN until Abe becomes a full-fledged vampire hunter, so let's just blast through all the shit that happens before that." I could be wrong. But that it all just feels depressingly familiar...

  • June 21, 2012, 7:20 p.m. CST

    another Kidd review... to skip

    by antonphd

    i don't come here to read about how sad reviewers are that a movie didn't suck their dick

  • June 21, 2012, 7:25 p.m. CST

    Get your facts straight Kidd

    by Jordan

    Slideshows have been around since 1790.

  • June 21, 2012, 7:31 p.m. CST

    Kidd!!!

    by vettebro

    I never planned on seeing this anyway. Heheh... It looked stupid from the get go.

  • June 21, 2012, 7:40 p.m. CST

    He Got kicked in the head by a horse...

    by Patrick

    A different kind of Review (don't watch if you can't handle when the rock goes in on Abraham Mercury Car Dealership): http://youtu.be/kVVgYSqtzGo

  • June 21, 2012, 7:41 p.m. CST

    Blah Reviews. This site is getting stale.

    by Red_Right_Return

    The Kidd Vs. Abraham Lincoln = Bad Review<br> The Kidd Vs. Rock of Ages = Good Review<br> The Kidd Vs. Prometheus = Bad Review<br> The Kidd Vs. Snow White and The Huntsman = Bad Review<br> The Kidd Vs. Moonrise Kingdom = Bad Review<br> The Kidd Vs. CHERNOBYL DIARIES = Bad Review<br> The Kidd Vs. Men in Black III = Good Review<br> The Kidd Vs. BATTLESHIP = Bad Review<br> The Kidd Vs. THE DICTATOR = Good Review<br> The Kidd Vs. SOUND OF MY VOICE = Good Review<br> The Kidd Vs. DARK SHADOWS = Bad Review<br> The Kidd Vs. The Raven = Bad Review<br><br> I think I'll read other reviewers here. Sure most of these aren't great movies, but some of them were really fun. Oh and The Dictator was TERRIBLE.

  • June 21, 2012, 7:59 p.m. CST

    Jordanepic

    by ayrton1

    I was about to say the same thing. The earliest slide type projector was built in the late 1600's and was called a Magic Lantern. They were pretty basic but they were very popular. The late 1700's and early 1800's saw a great deal of advancement in light sources and projection methods. Lincoln was born in 1809 so he could have easily been shown something on a slide.

  • Truth. I havent agreed with a single one of his reviews. Period. He seems like a jaded old fuck that gets no pleasure out of anything, even a mindless popcorn flick.

  • June 21, 2012, 8:20 p.m. CST

    Billy the Kidd: Sentence Padder

    by P

  • June 21, 2012, 8:20 p.m. CST

    Billy the Kidd: Brevity Killer

    by P

  • June 21, 2012, 8:22 p.m. CST

    awwwwwwwwwwwwww

    by The Cheese Grommitt

    is the widdle Kid saaaaad becawz his pwecious widdle book was changed twanslation? Waaaaaaaaaaaaaa Waaaaaaaaaa. What an awful review. Harry cut him loose.

  • June 21, 2012, 8:22 p.m. CST

    Public Service Announcement: The Kidd likes GLEE

    by FrenchBastard03

    If that's not enough to tell you about the type of trash he "likes" vs shitting on other decent movies, I don't know what is.

  • June 21, 2012, 8:24 p.m. CST

    I refuse to read any review that gets underway by saying ...

    by Harry Palmerlime

    ... A movie is a ”total piece of shit.” That's just lazy and something I'd expect from a talkbacker, frankly.

  • First he throws away any credibility he might have had by screaming about how the movie's a *piece of shit.* Then he fails to understand how a human being might be bothered by his mother's murder. Then he insults the viewers who might pay to a see a movie by questioning their brain cells, as if all movies should spell out all plot points, no matter how obvious they are. Is the Kidd even a human being or just a sophisticated trolling machine? Some kind of narrative software experiment?

  • This has nothing to do with your opinions of the films, themselves. Your sentence structure and syntax are awful. Unlike the things your chose to address in your blackbox, this is not up for debate. It is simply a fact. I'm sure you're not going to respond to this. I don't expect you to. But for the love of God, pick up a standard style guide and keep it at the ready. I'll put it to you in a way you will understand: You know how you are offended by bad movies? Well, your writing is offensive. It is simply terrible.

  • June 21, 2012, 9:05 p.m. CST

    You choose not your chose.

    by P

  • June 21, 2012, 9:05 p.m. CST

    Oooooh! A New York Times Bestseller!!!

    by Thunderbolt Ross

    A sure stamp of quality!

  • June 21, 2012, 9:09 p.m. CST

    Seriously, what a grumpy review

    by Thunderbolt Ross

    You sound like an old man "This isn't how they did it in MY day!" Yeah yeah it's not like the book. Neither was The Shining.

  • June 21, 2012, 9:13 p.m. CST

    The Kidd is the worst reviewer to hit this site

    by Ashs_Right_Hand

    And that's saying something. No one's perfect (My favorite was Massawyrm, who raved about Death Race for Christ sakes), but I don't think I've ever read a single positive review from this guy. Just a Faraci-wannabe without half the brains or talent.

  • Do they pay you by the turd?

  • June 21, 2012, 9:31 p.m. CST

    The Infamous Billy The Kidd: Sucky Movie Slayer

    by ray a

    Thanks Kidd! My time and my money are very valuable to me and I don't want to waste either on bullshit movies. If I want that then I can just turn to the sci-fi channel.

  • June 21, 2012, 10:06 p.m. CST

    Kidd's reviews are shite

    by Player01

    The book was shite too. 5 minutes of footage I've seen from the movie looks a lot better that the movie! Seth Graham Green cannot write well at all, I really don't understand how he got this one going....

  • June 21, 2012, 10:06 p.m. CST

    * Correction

    by Player01

    5 minutes of footage I've seen from the movie looks a lot better that the BOOK!

  • June 21, 2012, 10:48 p.m. CST

    Kidd hates everything

    by Jack

    probably hates his mother.

  • June 21, 2012, 11:36 p.m. CST

    I didn't see it at first...

    by Red_Right_Return

    But each review just shows me the exact type of critic I used to come to this site to avoid. I came here because GEEKS came to enjoy movies, they didn't have to be perfect. I'm not saying we should throw praise on this movie, I haven't even seen it, but seriously, what did you expect from a movie with this freaking title?

  • What a missed opportunity.

  • June 22, 2012, 12:10 a.m. CST

    Sam Jackson in this would have made it a MFin better film.

    by Supermans

    Throw in Malcovich with his new iphone as his best friend and you have a better movie than this.

  • June 22, 2012, 2:01 a.m. CST

    No Seriously! Is ANYONE surprised that this is shit?!!

    by D o o d

  • June 22, 2012, 2:06 a.m. CST

    Kidd lost me at Avengers

    by abbottoklus

    The problem with Kidd is he seems so conceited. I always try and give him a chance but even his articles more often than not just have a condescending feeling or tone. When his Avengers review said something like "when Loki and Captain America fight it hit me 'my God, they're blowing it'" he lost all credibility to me as a reviewer. That entire review just made him sound like an idiot. But give him something he likes and he'll put it on a pedestal. His blind praise of everything Batman is annoying. Not to say Batman looks anything less than great, but that 2nd theatrical trailer was just awful. The worst paced, most boring, plot-revealing, anti-climactic trailer for a big movie I've ever seen. But sweet Jesus, if it's not the Godfather of trailers to Kidd, I don't know what is. It's all made worse cause he posts 90% of articles on the site these days. We need more Quint, more Massawyrm, more ENJOYABLE reviews, where even the ones you don't agree with can leave you glad you read them. *sigh* how I miss the days of Moriarty.

  • June 22, 2012, 3:44 a.m. CST

    My prediction is FLOP.

    by Chief Joseph

    Even if the movie was great, I think the concept is just too out there for most people. Just like audiences stayed away from Snakes on a Plane.

  • June 22, 2012, 5:27 a.m. CST

    An Abraham Lincoln training montage?

    by buggerbugger

    LOL. Please tell me they employ a Survivor song during that bit. Sounds like 'Winston Churchill: The Hollywood Years', only much, much shittier. As expected.

  • June 22, 2012, 5:29 a.m. CST

    Billy the Kidd...

    by Jesus Christ

    Transvestite Hunter!

  • June 22, 2012, 5:29 a.m. CST

    Kidd vs Talkback

    by Glenn

    I dunno, I kinda agree with his reviews. He just seems to like quality. Should he have more fun at the movies? No. You like what you like. You like the tones you like. Maybe he just wants movies to better because he loves them so goddamn much that, to him, "fun" is good, "fun" isn't turning your brain off, "fun" is turning your brain ON. Anyway, what's wrong with saying something is shitty-sucky on a website if you're not being paid to be a Tribune level movie reviewer? And his writing style is fine. Excuse me while I go ignore the latest update on Trans4mers.

  • June 22, 2012, 6:22 a.m. CST

    does "the kidd" even like movies? Give me a break!

    by motormouth_1217

    because everytime this guy does a review he hates it! I swear to god he even hated on "The Avengers"! How did this fucker even get a job here? Harry I beg you, get a new reviewer. I all for objectivity and all that, but this trolls everything he sees! I bet he didn't even like "The Dark Knight"! I bet this guys real favorite movie is something terrible like "Resident Evil" or something of the Paul W.S. Anderson nature.

  • June 22, 2012, 10:05 a.m. CST

    Meh....I'm still waiting for...

    by Marshal_Lannes

    ....Mahatma Gandhi: Zombie Killer

  • June 22, 2012, 11:58 a.m. CST

    Yes The Kiddiot hates every movie ever

    by Russell

    and lol@the spiderman tb being tooked down b/c sony are whiny cunts.

  • June 22, 2012, 12:12 p.m. CST

    Oh and I guess aicn gives no fucks that Dick Lynch is died

    by Russell

  • June 22, 2012, 1:02 p.m. CST

    Where's. Harry's Review? Giggle.

    by Denty420

    I was. Wondering. When Harry's self-indulgent and masturbatory. Review. would come. Written just like this. Giggle.

  • June 22, 2012, 1:48 p.m. CST

    This looks....STUPID!!

    by Stalkeye

  • June 22, 2012, 2:08 p.m. CST

    No bueno >.<

    by Stephanie Ann Diaz

    So disappointed!!! I never knew a movie that is an hour and a half long could feel as if it was 4 hours...no real plotline...the editing was a joke oh and making Abe look like a cheerleader swinging around the axe...FAIL!!! >.<

  • June 22, 2012, 3:21 p.m. CST

    slide shows businesses were on hell on wheels

    by darkpassenger

    pretty sure they were around in the 1800's. i love how capone claims to know what makes books work, i didnt know he had LEGITIMATE writing credentials

  • June 22, 2012, 3:24 p.m. CST

    jimmi simpson

    by darkpassenger

    is he in a decent amount of this? hed be the only reason i see this

  • If the movies sucks then he should say it sucks. So far most of his reviews have been on point. It's only the people who decide they are not supposed to think at all during a movie who have issues with a negative review.