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Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

A movie directed by Timur Bekmambetov

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Of presidents and the paranormal.

  • Jun 24, 2012
** out of ****

Honest Abe himself tells us early on in "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" that one very significant portion of his life will not be remembered throughout American history. The premise for the film is that he lived a double life as a slayer of vamps; a side-job that started at an early age when his mother's life was taken by one named Jack Barts. This was mere inspiration. Lincoln did not learn that you could properly dispose of vampires for good until he tried it ten years later and failed miserably; saved only by a more experienced hunter, Henry Sturges (Dominic Cooper), who later teaches Abraham the trade, so to speak. This of course means that he walks him through what effectively kills vampires, as well as the enemy's own unique weapons of choice (which include invisibility, evaporation, and obviously the sharp teeth). Abraham goes into battle with the beasts hidden in the darkness each night wielding his trusty axe (with silver on the tip, since everyone knows silver kills vamps); living a perfectly normal life by day.

His daytime job is as a shopkeeper, working for the kindly and energetic Joshua Speed (Jimmi Simpson). In the shop is where the most life-changing moments occur. Lincoln meets the love of his life - the woman who would soon be his wife - Mary Todd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), who is then dating the politician Stephen A. Douglas (Alan Tudyk). He also reunites with a childhood friend; a slave by the name of William Johnson (Anthony Mackie), who still cherishes the fond memories along with the harsh ones that they both endured during their separate and shared boyhoods. Lincoln must try as hard as he possibly can to juggle his personal life, his political life, and his odd job as a killer. And this is just the first part of the story. Just wait until he moves into the White House with Mary Todd. Things get real messy then.

The main villain of the story is a slave-owner/head vampire named Adam (Rufus Sewell). The slaves themselves are the only thing keeping his army of evil bloodsuckers sane for the time being. They will wage war once they run out of food resources. Lincoln makes the mistake of freeing the slaves; and so the war that never was begins. The script by Seth Grahame-Smith, who also wrote the novel of the same name, clearly has no intentions of following history very closely at all; but for a movie of this title, it actually takes itself very seriously indeed. This could have made for something silly - something satirical or flamboyantly goofy - but instead the screenplay makes an attempt to develop real characters and situations. Maybe it's better off that way.

The film, directed by the visionary Timur Bekmambetov, is a stunning visual achievement. With Tim Burton as one of the producers, that's what you'd most likely expect; a ravishing production filled with great shots and nice looking effects (although the vampires aren't particularly amazing to gawk at). If that's all you're looking for, then "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" is the movie for you. Its chock full of pretty things to look at and it's got plenty of different elements to pick aside and admire; yet I can't help but feel there's an empty void somewhere here that hasn't quite been filled. Yes, you get some pretty sweet and stylistic action sequences, but so what? I might care if the screenplay had been ignored a little more - or perhaps a little less mediocre - but the film makes the mistake of believing that it's got more substance than it actually does.

If you're a technical junkie, you're going to want to see this no matter what. But the fact of the matter is that "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" provides only momentarily thrilling, but ultimately forgettable pleasures. It has some good performances - although Benjamin Walker as Lincoln is somewhat questionable, more-so during the younger days of the world-renown president rather than his later years - but on a whole, I questioned its authenticity as an action flick and as entertaining historical fiction throughout. I've heard rumors of a 168 minute cut, and I hope that surfaces one day. The thing feels either too short or too long. Or maybe it just feels oddly uninspired for a film with such a great idea going for it. I give it credit for possessing an impressive production and cast, as well as a damn interesting premise; but I also must discredit it for failing to engage me. I don't ask much out of these action movies, why must they be so difficult? Perhaps it's finding the right balance between absurdity and realism; there's a line there and if you cross it, there will be hell to pay. This movie gets off easy. Not all of them can be so lucky.

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June 25, 2012
Sounds bizarre to me!
June 25, 2012
Lincoln as a vampire hunter? I think, notttt! Thanks for the warning! This must be more ridiculous than the Will Smith Wild Wild West film.
June 25, 2012
I really wanted to love this one, but I only ended up partly liking it. It wasn't horrible, but the over-reliance to slow-mo really bothered me.
June 24, 2012
Well done. If you haven't read the book, it's written like an actual history book, without its tongue in its cheek.
June 25, 2012
Interesting. The film wasn't really tongue-in-cheek, but it could have either benefited from that particular tone or not.
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review by . June 23, 2012
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Presidential Proclamation: Vampire Hunter!
When I review a film, comic book or a book, I usually try to find a way to relate to the material to find a common point as to find the things I usually look for in its story. I really wasn’t certain how I was going to approach “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” since it is a fantasy action horror movie that is based on the mashup novel with the same name. I am at a slight disadvantage since I haven’t read the novel as of yet (then again it may be a good idea to see a movie …
review by . June 25, 2012
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Near the end of Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, there is a scene that explains for me the ultimate message of Abraham Lincoln:  offered the tainted immortality of vampirism to use to fight for good for eternity, Lincoln deflects the suggestion with his legendary wisdom and humor without giving a second thought to the offer.  For those who may be horrified by a generation of young people learning about Lincoln from this movie (and the mashup fiction that it is based on), I would offer the …
review by . February 12, 2013
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Quick Tip by . February 12, 2013
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review by . December 11, 2012
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Well-made gore fest
When young Abraham Lincoln angers a man (who happens to a vampire), the man takes his revenge by killing the boy's mother. Lincoln then dedicates his life to finding vampires and killing them with his silver-tipped ax.      I really enjoyed this movie. Yes, it's horrifically gory at times, but the clever mix of fantasy and true events is very well done and I couldn't wait to see what would happen next. We follow Lincoln from store clerk to the White House. …
review by . June 25, 2012
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The summer movie season can be home to plenty of whimsical, often ridiculous premises for movies. We’ve seen movies based on comic books, toy lines, and most recently, board games. “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” continues the trend with one of the most laughable titles I’ve ever read, let alone the absurd premise of the film that pits our 16th president against a horde of blood-sucking night dwellers in an alternate-history romp. That being said, I was just as surprised …
review by . June 23, 2012
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Star Rating:         Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Don’t you just love a title that plainly spells it all out for you? Say it to yourself, and you’re instantly reminded of the sci-fi/horror B-movies that sounded as if they were christened before an actual screenplay was written, like Attack of the 50 Foot Woman or Creature from the Black Lagoon or Attack of the Crab Monsters. It matters not that the film plays fast and loose with American history. If …
review by . June 22, 2012
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'Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter' History + Vampires = A Winne (Video)
By Joan Alperin Schwartz   Most of the time, when you see a film, after you've read the book, you feel let down. The movie usually pales in comparison to the novel.      I am happy to report this isn't the case with 'Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter'               The film, shot in 3D and directed by Timur Bekmambetov (I've never heard of him either) is entertaining, exciting, clever and total …
Quick Tip by . July 05, 2012
Nothing so intrinsically silly ought be presented in as humorless a manner as that of Timor Bekmambetov's latest waste of film, an adaptation of Seth Grahame-Smith's amusing revisionist novel. Scarcely any of the author's droll wit is preserved in transition; this movie is exciting as an extravaganza of stylized combat, yet divested of its source material's facetious character, ultimately nothing more than inadvertently vacuous. At present, Mary Elizabeth Winstead is a rarity among …
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #11
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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