Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter 3D Review

The Plot:

Based on the novel by cult genre author Seth Grahame-Smith, the film blends real life history with supernatural fantasy, reimagining America’s 16th President Abraham Lincoln as a fearless vampire hunter. The unlikely tale incorporates his quest to rid America of undead monsters into his rise to political power and the bloody events of the American Civil War.

The Good:

The film’s odd fusion of fact and fantasy is at least fairly original. It also deserves some credit for ambitiously attempting to fit a love story, a history lesson and sombre political messages about freedom in amongst all the frantic monster hunting.

Newcomer Benjamin Walker undergoes a fairly effective transformation while playing Lincoln, taking Abraham from a bookish young shop clerk to the iconic bearded presidential image we’re all familiar with. He cuts a fairly interesting figure in a jaunty top hat and flowing overcoat, brandishing a silver Axe. He also manages to give Lincoln’s immortal words at least some modest measure of credibility amidst his frequent vampire decapitating escapades.

Watching young Abe violently dispatch the vampire villains should satisfy fans with an animated bloodlust, but it’s all too quick and glamorized to traumatise those of a more delicate sensibility.

The Bad:

Director Timur Bekmambetov deploys the trademark style of over the top frenzied CGI action showcased in his Russian blockbuster Night Watch and western debut effort Wanted.  At best it will divide audience opinion. It flirts ill-advisedly with ridiculousness and seems better suited to computer games than a big budget summer blockbuster. One particular scene where Lincoln and a vampire do cartoonish super slow-motion battle while skipping across a stampeding herd of horses strains belief well past breaking point, relentlessly defying the laws of physics but lacking in joy.

Implausible action sequences and silly CGI really don’t help the fact that Abraham Lincoln is right from the start an unlikely action hero. It’s hard to reconcile the stale historical memory of a starch stiff American President with the super powered axe twirling monster killer presented here.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead is a wide eyed and beautiful young actress of evident presence and some promise. Sadly as Mary Todd Lincoln she’s left in a lacklustre film with little room to showcase her talents. Likewise, Rufus Sewell is a familiar face from television and films, but his lead vampire villain is absolutely lacking in substance, personality and menace. In general there’s little if anything to distinguish the vampires in this film from the tired CGI clichés you’ve seen in almost every other vampire flick for the past ten years.

The Ugly Truth:

With a more self-aware sense of humour and less sullen seriousness Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter might have been a better ride. Those with an overly abundant fondness for CGI blood splattered vampire killing may enjoy the hyper-stylized action, but overall the film is disappointingly generic despite its supposedly original premise.  It may find a cult audience, particularly amongst fans of the book, but lacks the quality to make it widely appealing or memorable.

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