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Capone finds ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER a fascinating mess!!!

Hey everyone. Capone in Chicago here.

Of course, everything about it is ridiculous right down to the title. Yes, it's positively blasphemous to tie the Civil War to vampires needing to keep slavery alive so they will have a constant supply of food. It's downright sacrilegious to turn Harriet Tubman into a soldier in the fight against bloodsuckers. And its positively insane to make Abraham Lincoln a vicious assassin, trained in the art of hunting and killing vampires. And it's because of all of those things that this bit of historical fiction had to be told. People who roll their eyes at the very idea of this story (let alone this movie) have completely lost their sense of fun.

That being said, the elements of ABRHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER that are most disappointing have nothing to do with its premise and everything to do with its execution. Almost every second of director Timur Bekmambetov's (WANTED, NIGHT WATCH) film seems single-mindedly focused on moving forward as fast and blurrily as possible. Yes, in most cases, a plot should move forward (with the exception of a handful of flashbacks), but the director (working from a script by Seth Grahame-Smith, based on his novel) never lets up. He pushes so hard to get to the next scene and the next scene and the next scene that we never get time to settle in with these characters and actually experience a bit of their lives. Character development is a thing for dreamers here. People become friends because we are told they are friends; Lincoln and Mary Todd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) fall in love because we are told they do.

I'm not here to judge the movie against the source material. I don't really care if the film follows the book closely or not; the film exists as its own entity, and I'll judge it as such. That being said, it's my understanding that the book is a well-researched biography with vampire elements sprinkled throughout. The film, on the other hand, skims over the surface of Lincoln's life and career—as a child, a struggling lawyer, and eventually the president—like a stone skipping across a vast pond. I know history on film can be taxing, but there is almost no sense of time and place in this film. The environments look artificial, and the characters feel the same.

As much as I enjoyed Benjamin Walker as Lincoln, he's essentially operating at two speeds — nice guy and rage monster with an axe. He plays both effectively, but Lincoln's abilities as a statesman and strategist are woefully undervalued. His relationship with his wife is treated like something Bekmamabetov considered a distraction, and the filmmakers invent the character of Will Johnson (Anthony Mackie), a freed slave who just happens to be Lincoln's best buddy. Faring slightly better are the more ominous characters, especially Henry Sturgess (Dominic Cooper), the man who recruits Lincoln as a boy to erase his identity and train to kill vampires. Henry has a few secrets of his own, but Cooper works beyond the restrictive script to give Henry some humanity.

Also mildly amusing is Adam (Rufus Sewell), a ruthless plantation owner and head of a great number of the vampires of the South. Sewell plays his character with a bit too much mustache-twirling villainy (no, he does not have a mustache), but there's something fun about his portrayal as well.

There are two big action sequences I like for their audacity more than their achievements in special effects. There's a chase scene with Lincoln where he's hopping over, under and through stampeding horses after a vampire. It doesn't look particularly real, but it does register high on the cool scale. The other involves a train going over a high bridge that seems to span the entirety of the Grand Canyon (not really, but it sure seems that way), with said bridge on fire and collapsing just as the train attempts to cross. It's a stupid, stupid scene, but damn if it didn't take my breath away (some of which was the result of laughing so hard).

I think everyone involved in making ABRHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER had a better movie in them. You can also smell the concessions that were granted to get this movie made. The performances are serviceable, with the occasional actor rising up during key scenes just long enough to be impressive. Walker never fails when he's delivering one of Lincoln's classic speeches. I truly hope people get more out of it than I did, but most of what I saw left me empty and wanting so much more. A few moments of exhilaration don't make up for two hours of messy fumbling...at least that's what I've always been told. God, could I set you guys up any more than that?

-- Steve Prokopy
"Capone"
capone@aintitcool.com
Follow Me On Twitter

Readers Talkback
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  • June 22, 2012, 2:52 a.m. CST

    VAL HELSING 2

    by Liquid Meddle

    That's what this POS looks like to me. I kept trying to pin it down.. I Am Legend.. Priest.. Val Helsing! That's it, damnit. Does it leave it open for a sequel with newly anointed vampire hunter John Wilkes Booth?

  • June 22, 2012, 2:58 a.m. CST

    From the writer of "Dark Shadows"...

    by Kirbymanly

    Let us not forget...

  • June 22, 2012, 3:20 a.m. CST

    Doesn't have a big enough sense of humor

    by sonnyfern

    Just for the record, the Nighwatch movies were some of the worst flicks I'd ever seen...and I do mean EVER. Shit happened in those movies that made no sense in any universe whatsoever. Just thinking about those movies make my damn head hurt. The biggest problem I have with this movie is that it really should have been more tongue in cheek, should've been more of a b-movie comedy, it takes itself WAY too freaking seriously.

  • June 22, 2012, 3:55 a.m. CST

    A period piece that's not

    by DookieMercury

    After reading the synopsis of the novel, I thought i had an idea of what to expect. I was wrong. While the movie glosses over the book to as Capone says get to the next scene as fast as possible I liked that any humor had was more dramatic irony than anything else. While scenes such as the death of one of Lincoln's sons (note: Lincoln lost 3 of 4 children, 2 many the age 12) should have had more weight than it did. But the movie wanted to focus on the horror and vampire aspect and it did. I think that laser focus on killing vampires was a bit of detriment but I can't lie and say the experience wasn't at times exhilarating. All and all this film reminded me of a more action oriented Hammer film minus the sex, it has the historical references, the violence, and straight faced earnestness of those films but I guess in the end I was looking for something more given the material and cast. It's still a nice matinee, however.

  • June 22, 2012, 5 a.m. CST

    The same sort of idea was done with Bubba Hotep

    by GilbertRSmith

    And Bubba Hotep didn't get a fraction of the budget or press that this movie got. It didn't even get a national distribution deal because it existed in a time before the bottom-shelf randomness of Chuck Norris jokes and Robocop on a Unicorn. This is the kind of movie that would have been brave to produce 10 years ago. Today it's just pandering.

  • June 22, 2012, 5:01 a.m. CST

    The same sort of idea was done with Bubba Hotep

    by GilbertRSmith

    And Bubba Hotep didn't get a fraction of the budget or press that this movie got. It didn't even get a national distribution deal because it existed in a time before the bottom-shelf randomness of Chuck Norris jokes and Robocop on a Unicorn. This is the kind of movie that would have been brave to produce 10 years ago. Today it's just pandering.

  • June 22, 2012, 5:03 a.m. CST

    I hate nightwatch/daywatch whichever one I've seen

    by Autodidact

    It's like BLADE made by the guys who make the STALKER games if they were on meth.

  • June 22, 2012, 5:35 a.m. CST

    Lol so bad premise *AND* bad execution!

    by Mrhazard

    Sign me up for that!

  • June 22, 2012, 5:37 a.m. CST

    Abraham Lincoln: "nice guy and rage monster with an axe"

    by buggerbugger

    Much better title.

  • June 22, 2012, 7:27 a.m. CST

    This is UHF's Conan the Librarian as the entire film

    by John C. Croker

    This movie is something that should have been relegated as a sketch on SNL or some other show and did not need a theatrical release at all. It was always going to be bad.

  • June 22, 2012, 7:46 a.m. CST

    how does this movie compare to BLADE?

    by Spandau Belly

    Because I really liked BLADE.

  • June 22, 2012, 7:50 a.m. CST

    Wait... i thought this was the Lincoln movie with Daniel D Lewis

    by KoolerThanJesus

    Apparently I need to find out which one he is in.

  • June 22, 2012, 8:12 a.m. CST

    Calvin Coolidge: Mummy Slayer trailer

    by immacintyre

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SCmnM5-86K8&feature=plcp

  • June 22, 2012, 8:21 a.m. CST

    God look at this criminal

    by Margarita Ania Rodriguez

    http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-news/12425301-margarita-ania-rodriguez-arrest

  • June 22, 2012, 8:22 a.m. CST

    The first paragraph sums this up. It looks like stupid fun, and I'm

    by Grammaton Cleric Binks

    going to see it this weekend.

  • June 22, 2012, 8:30 a.m. CST

    Bill Clinton: Killer Clown Puncher

    by Grammaton Cleric Binks

  • June 22, 2012, 8:32 a.m. CST

    I was holding judgment on this until the trailer came out a while back.

    by Grammaton Cleric Binks

    The name is cool. The premise is stupidly funny. The question is will it work. Judging from what I saw it's better than a two minute gotcha SNL skit or Onion article.

  • June 22, 2012, 8:45 a.m. CST

    From the director of two other messes comes a new mess.

    by knowthyself

    Let's face it this guy isn't gifted with "settling" down with characters. Night and Day Watch make no sense and WANTED was saved by the two leads. Otherwise this guy has no idea how to tell a story he just wants to throw cool shit on the screen and hope it sticks.

  • June 22, 2012, 8:53 a.m. CST

    Bubb Hotep is right you Cock-A-Roach !

    by higgledyhiggles

  • June 22, 2012, 8:54 a.m. CST

    Jesse Jackson: Ghostbustah

    by Cletus Van Damme

    I'd see it just for the made-up rhyming words he'd come up with.

  • June 22, 2012, 9:17 a.m. CST

    Just not that interested in seeing Abe Lincoln doing kung-fu

    by MooseMalloy

  • I liked it, it's just disappointing, my review: http://wp.me/p1LZxf-FU

  • June 22, 2012, 10:13 a.m. CST

    I think I'll wait for the Spielberg/Daniel Day Lewis

    by Samuel Fulmer

    Collaboration coming this Fall instead of this not even direct to dvd worthy looking shit.

  • June 22, 2012, 11:15 a.m. CST

    I haven't "lost my sense of fun", but I have no desire to see this.

    by MisterManReturns

    I don't care that they made it. Whatever. But I won't be watching it. Having enjoyed studying the Civil War era extensively, I am disturbed that some badly-educated kids will come away with a warped concept of the historical figures. I know, it's not for kids, but you can be guaranteed that a lot of damn stupid parents will take their children to see it.

  • June 22, 2012, 12:26 p.m. CST

    God I love Bubba Ho-Tep

    by Pooter the Clown

    "Let's roll"

  • June 22, 2012, 12:56 p.m. CST

    Crispus Attucks Troll Hunter

    by Tarik Davis

    Perhaps equally ridiculous, yet clever (and will most likely attract awesome comments from trolls on this very site) = Crispus Attucks Troll Hunter. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_uIokLJIuqI

  • June 22, 2012, 1:36 p.m. CST

    There's something you should know about me...

    by coolhanddave

    Abe Lincoln is my favorite president of all time. My parents gave me Honest Abe footie p.j.s and I would run around the house shouting "Four Score!!!" at my imaginary southerns, which were really my teddy ruxpin and glow worm. So you can say that when they finally decided to adapt Abe's life on the big screen, I was obviously ape shit excited.

  • June 22, 2012, 1:39 p.m. CST

    Sense of fun? Well, maybe not, but a sense of decency? Yes.

    by Chris

    So will it be acceptable in a hundred years for the Germans to make a movie about how the vampire slayer Hitler tried to round up all the vampires and put them in special camps designed to contain and exterminate their species, only to be thwarted by the vampire controlled Axis Powers? Not only is Abe Lincoln: Vampire Hunter a bad idea, it's an offensive idea. So many people in America know absolutely nothing about their history, and along comes this movie. Sure it isn't meant to be taken seriously, but it is revisionist history. I'm not talking about the vampire angle, anyone who thinks that is a fucking moron. I'm talking about Lincoln having black friends, Lincoln wanting to free the slaves. Lincoln believed blacks were inferior to white men, something he said in several letters that are part of historical record. He also said if he could win the war by freeing some and not all slaves, or not freeing any he would do that. The actual Civil War began due to the Federal Government raising the price of tariffs that would force Southerners to purchase from the North rather than acquire items and goods from over seas, as they would not have been able to afford the higher fees. Slavery became an issue because countries like England began to support the South, but those countries were free lands where the people did not support slavery. If the people found out that their country was aiding the side of a civil war that was pro-slavery all support for the aid would be lost. Also, Lincoln didn't free the slaves, he forfeited the rights of ownership that all Southern men held over their property. He didn't emancipate people, he emancipated property, which included slaves. It was more of a fuck you to the South than anything. So while we all know vampires don't exist, this film still helps maintain the myth that America became a place of peace and freedom after the Civil War because of the sacrifices of the slave loving Abe Lincoln. The truth of the matter is before the Civil War we were a Union of like minded countries with a federal government that maintained the peace and looked out for the common good, dealing with global issues by having representatives of other states appear in Washington to plead their states arguments. After the Civil War we became a country controlled by a bloated and corrupt federal government.

  • Which is surprising to me since I really enjoy the movies I love, and the same goes for TV shows and videogames I also happen to like. Oh well, that's it then. I've completely lost my sense of fun because I think the idea of this movie sounds like utter shit to me!

  • June 22, 2012, 2:37 p.m. CST

    I got what I paid for

    by disfigurehead

    History and vampires. My $6 was not wasted.

  • June 22, 2012, 2:51 p.m. CST

    GEORGE WASHINGTON: ZOMBIE KILLER

    by Mr. Pricklepants

  • June 22, 2012, 2:52 p.m. CST

    THOMAS JEFFERSON: WEREWOLF SLAYER

    by Mr. Pricklepants

  • June 22, 2012, 3 p.m. CST

    Wow, thanks for the history lesson evilsmokemonster

    by waltbbadd

    Get off your high horse and chill out, douchebag

  • June 22, 2012, 3:24 p.m. CST

    So no "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies film?

    by Nik

    Thank god

  • June 22, 2012, 3:50 p.m. CST

    BARACK OBAMA: TERRORIST KILLER

    by Mr. Pricklepants

  • June 22, 2012, 3:53 p.m. CST

    TIMUR BEKMAMBETOV: HACK DIRECTOR

    by Mr. Pricklepants

    Directed by Tim Burton

  • June 22, 2012, 3:56 p.m. CST

    GEORGE W. BUSH: THE PRESIDENT IS A RETARD

    by Mr. Pricklepants

    Directed by Oliver Stone

  • June 22, 2012, 3:58 p.m. CST

    FDR: NAZI KILLER

    by Mr. Pricklepants

  • June 22, 2012, 4:18 p.m. CST

    BURTON AND SMITH = SHIT

    by Bob Craft

  • June 22, 2012, 4:21 p.m. CST

    RICHARD NIXON: SERIAL KILLER

    by Mr. Pricklepants

  • June 22, 2012, 5:02 p.m. CST

    RE: "Lincoln didn't free the slaves"

    by supermans_red_underpants

    If Southern property owners lost thier claim to ownership of all property, including slaves, houses, land, etc., and the houses and land became the property of others, and the slaves didn't, then he freed them, even if it wasn't his primary goal to do so. Put simpler: before the war, they were slaves. After, they weren't, therefore Lincoln freed the slaves. Simple.

  • June 22, 2012, 5:05 p.m. CST

    STEVEN SPIELBERG'S ABRAHAM LINCOLN: DINOSAUR HUNTER

    by Mr. Pricklepants

  • June 22, 2012, 5:09 p.m. CST

    BILL CLINTON: PUSSY HOUND

    by Mr. Pricklepants

    Directed by Adam Sandler

  • June 22, 2012, 5:43 p.m. CST

    @waltbbadd

    by Chris

    And if it wasn't any clearer for whom Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter was made for, along comes our friend waltbbadd and his state of perpetual ignorance. My compliments, sir. Hats are indeed coming off.

  • June 22, 2012, 8:54 p.m. CST

    There has really only been 2 good Presidents

    by brobdingnag

    Washington and Jefferson. Everyone since then has been an utter failure and Lincoln was the absolute worst. He suspended Habeas Corpus rights, the single worst thing EVER done my a President, by FAR.

  • Directed by Brett Ratner

  • June 23, 2012, 3:57 p.m. CST

    Making a movie like this is pointless.

    by MajorFrontbum

    It's a ridiculous concept. I bet the people who dream up shit like this, probably think that having sex with their own grandparents is perfectly acceptable and normal as well. Fuck this shit off, dig a hole and bury yourselves in it, you pack of stupid cunts! Humanity does not need you.

  • June 23, 2012, 5:45 p.m. CST

    The diff between AL:VH and 'Battleship'? 'Battleship was fun.

    by Raptor Jesus

    It's no longer the stupidest movie out this summer, although the competition has been fierce.

  • June 24, 2012, 1:28 p.m. CST

    It's the same shit he did with Wanted....

    by BarCrow

    It's like he barely researched or read the source material...or at least his writers did..and he let them.

  • June 24, 2012, 1:31 p.m. CST

    Also...why no love for Richard Lynch's passing on this site?

    by BarCrow

    This most recognizable face of so many movie villains and the man's death last week I've not seen mentioned here. Or did I just miss it?

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