Josh Wilding Reviews: ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is released in the US on Friday and in the UK today, but is it worth checking out? Does the silly premise actually work or does the movie from Wanted director Timur Bekmambetov fall totally flat? Find out here in this SPOILER-FREE review.

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By Josh Wilding - 6/20/2012

"Wow," is more than likely the first reaction you'll have after sitting down to watch Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. And no, it won't be the good kind. Instead, it will be something more akin to, "Wow, how can a movie which looked so much fun be so absolutely awful?" Regardless of the silly premise, there was no reason why the film from director Timur Bekmambetov couldn't at least be a bit of B-movie light relief. It's not. Seth Grahame-Smith's weak screenplay (he also wrote the novel the film is based on) isn't all bad, although it jumps around so often, you would be better off reading an actual history book if you're hoping to get to know Abraham Lincoln at all. While it's fair to say that no one was expecting anything near a historically accurate take on the 16th President of the United States, it could really be anyone wielding the axe in this film. All Lincoln ultimately serves as is a way of throwing in some well-known events and adding a level of novelty to the otherwise dull story.

It's all rather straightforward and there are little in the way of surprises. Admittedly, the way events are structured around the history of Lincoln do work, although most feel forced (perhaps explaining the huge time jump halfway through the movie). Visually, the film is a mess with an overabundance of slow-motion and terrible special effects. An otherwise exciting battle between Lincoln and a vampire as they avoid dozens of galloping horses wouldn't look out of place as a video game cutscene, circa 2005. Bekmambetov's style is just totally out of place in a film which would have benefited from having a director who would have grounded it in reality and made the artificial world feel at least somewhat believable. Instead, the film is brought to life in a style which will more than likely only appeal to teenage boys. The 3D effects are equally as unimpressive. Despite a handful of good, albeit gimmicky, uses of the format, it quickly becomes clear that Bekmambetov's idea of a good way to use it is to have as many floating spores and pieces of debris in as many shots as possible.

In fairness, the film is mostly saved by Benjamin Walker's portrayal of Abraham Lincoln. Playing him as a young and older man, he's convincing as both and delivers a solid performance throughout. Dominic Cooper is also rather enjoyable as Henry Sturgess, the man who trains Lincoln to take on the vampires, but only the blind will be unable to see the "twist" involving his character coming from a million miles away. Both Anthony Mackie (Will Johnson) and Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Mary Todd Lincoln) are watchable, but deserve so much better than this. Rufus Sewell's Adam makes for a believable and convincing baddie, but he's laughably one-dimensional. Throw in some forgettable supporting performances from Jimmi Simpson (Joshua Speed), Alan Tudyk (Stephen A. Douglas) and a few others and there's not much else left to say. Sadly, almost all of these characters are so poorly written and underdeveloped, not even the world's greatest actors could have salvaged much from the script.

However, it's not all bad. The design of the vampires isn't particularly original, but they are convincingly frightening and the fact they have a few extra powers (invisibility and super-speed for example) make them a little more interesting than your usual movie vamps. The make-up effects which are used to make Walker look like the older Lincoln are also top-notch, arguably up there with the jobs done on Leonardo DiCaprio in J. Edgar and on Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady. The same can't quite be said for the rest of the cast who either look unconvincing or the exact same age, only with a slightly different hair colour. For all it does wrong, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter does have its moments. While the action sequences rely far too heavily on unconvincing special effects, they are for the most part exciting and well-choreographed. The practical fight scenes also work (Lincoln's skills with an axe are great fun to watch and pretty darn impressive) but these are the only things it does do right. It's not an easy film to recommend and these few redeeming features do nothing to make-up for the fact that it is lacking in just about every other area.

Avoid it like you would a vampire and drive a stake through the heart of anyone who suggests going to see it.








Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter explores the secret life of our greatest President, and the untold story that shaped our nation. Visionary filmmakers Tim Burton and Timur Bekmambetov (director of Wanted) bring a fresh and visceral voice to the blood-thirsty lore of the vampire, imagining Lincoln as history’s greatest hunter of the undead.


STARRING:

Benjamin Walker as Abraham Lincoln
Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Mary Todd Lincoln
Rufus Sewell as Adam
Jimmi Simpson as Josh Speed
Dominic Cooper as Henry Sturges
Anthony Mackie as William Johnson
Robin McLeavy as Nancy Lincoln
Alan Tudyk as Stephen A. Douglas
Marton Csokas as Jack Armstrong
Cameron M. Brown as Willie Lincoln

RELEASE DATE: June 22, 2012


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BRandom - 6/20/2012, 1:13 PM
well that sucks...was atleast hoping for some pretty swanky fight scenes
mawilli4 - 6/20/2012, 1:14 PM
I don't know who to believe. I read another review that was like "absolutely go see it." Is it really bad, or just not your cup of tea?
kingshnake - 6/20/2012, 1:14 PM
tim burton sucks
ksommer - 6/20/2012, 1:14 PM
Not shocked... The movie didn't look that great to begin with.
mawilli4 - 6/20/2012, 1:14 PM
@monkeyballs it was a book first. the book was absolutely phenomenal.
Stumblin - 6/20/2012, 1:14 PM
I'm not surprised. Good review Josh.
jazzman - 6/20/2012, 1:16 PM
damn thats not good
Mago - 6/20/2012, 1:17 PM
He gave Prometheus 5 stars... -_-
jazzman - 6/20/2012, 1:18 PM
@monkeyballs3

how is it shameful premise. the movie was not about actually history its a fricking twist for crying out loud.
GUNSMITH - 6/20/2012, 1:18 PM
A VAMPIRE FLICK THAT "SUCKS"?
Ironnick - 6/20/2012, 1:20 PM
Damn, I was hoping it was going to be good.
Ranger14 - 6/20/2012, 1:21 PM
"how is it shameful premise. the movie was not about actually history its a fricking twist for crying out loud."

There is a segment of people on this side of the pond that feel it is disrespectful to one of of our nation's great Presidents, regardless of it not being actually a historical piece.
GUNSMITH - 6/20/2012, 1:22 PM
I DUNNO WE NEED TO MAKE A SCALE ON THIS SUMMER'S MOVIES WITH AVENGERS BEING "OMEGA" LEVEL..YOU GUYS DECIDE WHAT MOVIES COULD REPRESENT THE OTHER TWO LEVELS "ALPHA" BEING DECENT AND "BETA" BEING THE CRUSTY BROWN IN THE TOILET...
Francisjb - 6/20/2012, 1:22 PM
So... everyone that has responded to this post so far will not see this movie based on one review? Sheep.
imnotwearinghockeypants - 6/20/2012, 1:27 PM
Your review describes what I thought of the book. Ridiculous.
preacher - 6/20/2012, 1:27 PM
Well, this really blows. Of course, this is the ONLY review I've read so far about the movie. @mawilli-I read the book too, when it first hit the shelves and I agree, was a "phenomenal book"! Loved it and it's tie in to historical events was amazing! Especially loved the ending, altho, I saw that one coming.

Really disappointed in the poor review. Hopefully, this movie will be like others I read poor reviews about. Generally, I end up liking the ones that have been bashed and typically not enjoying as much the ones that are praised so highly.
MrYurMomm - 6/20/2012, 1:28 PM
I know that reviews are really only opinions, but damn, this straight shot killed my hopes :(
preacher - 6/20/2012, 1:29 PM
Always the rebel....lol
SHHH - 6/20/2012, 1:31 PM
Josh U Watch Alot OF Movies Don't You.....
HelaGood - 6/20/2012, 1:35 PM
not surprising. but i will still see it.

great review Josh!
Tony93 - 6/20/2012, 1:37 PM
When will you review TASM?
Stumblin - 6/20/2012, 1:38 PM
@Francisjb, actually, I wasn't going to see it in the first place and wait until I could see it for $1 at the RedBox smart ass.
coalesce - 6/20/2012, 1:42 PM
Maybe they should've gotten Rex Hamilton to play Abraham Lincoln. For you yunguns, Google "Rex Hamilton" and "Abraham Lincoln" to see what I mean.
JoshWilding - 6/20/2012, 1:43 PM
Thanks guys! I think Total Film said it best with, "Arrive two hours late for Bekmambetov's overcooked noise generator and you'll have a fantastic night." :)

Tony93: I saw The Amazing Spider-Man last Thursday, but the embargo doesn't lift until June 29th...I'm hoping it will be brought forward though.
ralfinader - 6/20/2012, 1:44 PM
Thanks for the review Josh, you confirmed pretty much everything I was expecting.
Tony93 - 6/20/2012, 1:47 PM
Josh alright cool then
samsupes - 6/20/2012, 1:52 PM
Disappointed but not surprised. Books rarely deliver in movie form. And I wasn't too thrilled with who they picked as director.

Add the fact the ad's barely mention that this is based on a very solid best selling book. So those who don't know will think this is a lame premise as opposed to one thats already worked.
Mrcool210 - 6/20/2012, 1:52 PM
its supposed to be one of those movies thats so bad its good, your taking it way to seriously josh
HelaGood - 6/20/2012, 1:54 PM
wonder if they will make Seth Grahame-Smith's book "Unholy Night" into a movie now...
HelaGood - 6/20/2012, 1:55 PM
i confirm IM53's comment!

(im also thinking Josh wants the embargo moved forward because he is super excited to tell us about the movie and how amazing it is!!!)
ralfinader - 6/20/2012, 1:57 PM
Roosevelt: Ramp Hunter
95 - 6/20/2012, 2:00 PM
Big surprise.
shadyginzo - 6/20/2012, 2:04 PM
You have Prometheus 5 stars... so seeing as your opinion on films is provable innacurate I'll go see this at the weekend.
Dunejedi - 6/20/2012, 2:10 PM
@Yos - Hahahaha! Kudos.

I always said if this was done a la "Shaun of the Dead", it could be awesome ( like a toned down Amazing Screw-On Head ). Which is basically how the book was touted when it came out. The reviews claimed it was hilarious and witty and all that kind of s#it. The book sucked, wasn't funny AT ALL. There wasn't even any unintentional humor in it. I was bummed to find that, because the premise had a lot of promise. The whole "Inject vampires/zombies into classical literature" genre is a brilliant IDEA. But the execution just wasn't there ( I might still read Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, though ). I face-palmed when I heard this was green-lit. Nothing I saw in the previews has changed my mind.

I hope anyone who pays $10+ to see this likes s#it. Enjoy!
GreyChaos13Zero - 6/20/2012, 2:13 PM
movie really looked promising, shame. good thing I'll still get to see a shotgun axe in action when it's out on blu-ray?)



calciferboheme - 6/20/2012, 2:17 PM
Well, this is a disappointing review for a movie I've been looking forward to. I'll most likely still see it if I can, but it won't take priority over other movies this summer. Maybe I can hope that it is the B picture at the drive in with something I really want to see :P

I will say, I don't get how this depiction of Lincoln is "Shameful" It in no way impacts what he actually did or how he should realistically be portrayed. It is just an alternate history concept that took off.

I will say Timbur Bekmambitov has been really disappointing since Night Watch. That's been my only concern about this movie from the beginning.

Good review over all.I just hope that I don't share your opinion when I actually do see it.
HeadPool420 - 6/20/2012, 2:24 PM
This sucks! I loved Nightwatch and Daywatch i wasn't to keen on Wanted Mainly cause Wesley didn't wear the cool suit and cause they took a cool Halle Berry looking Fox from the comics and gave us a boring Angelina Jolie Fox!
Durf - 6/20/2012, 2:41 PM
Yeah kinda thought the premise was stupid to begin with. Oh, well don't bother me any.

@everyone: lol
Ship - 6/20/2012, 3:01 PM
I knew it, The trailer was truly awful.
HelaGood - 6/20/2012, 3:08 PM
Kermit: Pig Porker
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