"Until all men are free, we are all slaves." These are very powerful words that rang throughout the film, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Judging from the narrative when the film started with Lincoln writing in his diary, you would get a feeling that the movie will be great. Exciting, even. The transition of the picturesque modern time iconic structures of American politics and history to their construction stage in the eighteen hundreds is fantastic - a few minutes of magic in panoramic mode. The rest of the film however, wasn't impressive. The earlier feeling that the film would turn out great was extinguished by the humdrum scenes that made me scratch my head on several occasions. "Hey, that looks oddly familiar…"
I am a certified fan of vampire movies and TV shows. From Dracula of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee in the 70's; to Fright Night in the 80's, and Bram Stoker's Dracula, Interview with the Vampire, and Blade series of the 90's, I watched and loved them all. The Twilight Saga and From Dusk 'Til Dawn are personal favorites. So, when I saw the trailer of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter in YouTube, I thought that the movie would be interesting and entertaining. I certainly was interested since the vampire tale has been intertwined with the life story of one of the greatest American heroes, Abraham Lincoln. This is the main reason I watched the movie. This one's definitely new! After watching the movie, I was a little bit entertained and wished that I have bought the New York Times best selling novel instead.
The fight scenes are like in "valium" - devoid of intensity. The intended effect of the parts of the fight scenes in slow motion is unsuccessful. I wasn't amazed. They are just slow. The fight scene between Lincoln and her mother's killer with the stampeding stallions looked more like a computer graphics project in school than a movie scene. With all the dust whirling around, a contrasting play of shades and color could have been achieved with the scene. All you need is an unruly wind and breath-taking angles. (Okay, suggestions are not needed. Chuckle-chuckle.) Instead what I saw looked more like of a blurred picture. Even the fight scene between the hordes of vampire and Lincoln with his friends in the master vampire's nest lacked the excitement and dark appeal. Again, the slow motion parts were unsuccessful here. The vampires did not look strong, dark, nor supernatural in their moves and actions. Even the way the vampires died wasn't supernatural. I was expecting innovation in these aspects since vampires are supernatural creatures. The film could have been more adventurous and innovating in how the vampires fought and died.
There's nothing in the film that I haven't seen before. How did the story unfold? Someone very close to the protagonist was murdered. The protagonist sought for revenge, met his mentor, went to training, hunted down the killer, betrayed by his mentor, and drawn into a larger arena between good versus evil. Nothing in this part is new. CHECK!
How about the main battle between the protagonist and the antagonist? It was done in a moving locomotive. How many times have I seen this kind of "foreplay" before the denouement? Let me see… vampire?… train?… oh, yeah! The Priest. I won't tell you how the train scene in The Priest is more technically superior to this film. (That would be unfair and a bad way to review a film.) The point is, the film did not offer anything new to this quite getting old train battles. So, CHECK!
Silver? The "curse of the cursed" based on the betrayal of Judas. Again, not new. John Carpenter's Vampires is so much better. Ouch. Shouldn't have done that. But, I can't help it since I am driving at innovations. So, CHECK!
Not all's bad, though. (Sigh of relief.) One thing I liked about the film aside from the first few minutes at the start is the casting of Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Mary Todd, wife of Lincoln. She is a breath of fresh air. Her emotions, reactions, and facial expressions are sublime. She's a cool actress. Believable. Her best parts were when she pours out her anger and frustration on her son's death and when she killed the vampire who killed her son. The rest of her scenes are funny, witty, and simply nice to watch - the welcome breaks from the rather "misguided" scenes.
Benjamin Walker who played Lincoln, based on what I read of his past works should have delivered more. I blame it on the fight scenes. I was distracted and have not carefully noticed his acting prowess.
I watched the movie ten days ago. I have apprehensions writing this review because I am afraid that I do not have any nice thing to say about it. To tell you the truth, my best buddy who is an avid fan of vampire movies has "fallen asleep" twice. He would have fallen asleep in the duration of the entire movie if I hadn't woken him up. I am sorry, but this is the truth. Will I recommend for you to watch the movie? Why not? If you have nothing important to do. But for 175 Pesos (4 USD), add some more money and go buy the paperback edition of the novel from where this film is based on. That could be more satisfying and let your imagination take flight instead.