Heroes of the East

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Heroes of the East

Film discussion and banter

    Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012: Timur Bekmambetov)


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    Join date : 2011-02-16
    Location : Modesto, CA

    Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012: Timur Bekmambetov) Empty Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012: Timur Bekmambetov)

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch Mon Jul 09, 2012 5:03 pm

    technically first draft, but it keeps going and going:

    Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012: Timur Bekmambetov) ***/****

    I have been looking forward to this since I first saw the poster aglow on the wall of the cinema. While I had no previous interest in the Seth Grahame-Smith novel (who also did the screenplay), I saw that this had Tim Burton as a producer and Bekmambetov (Night Watch, Wanted) as the director and I am already salivating at the thought. After watching a few trailers of the film I was even more intrigued. I did wonder who else would actually be excited by this and if it would actually be good according to my own bizarre and ineffable criteria. I wisely did not bring the axe to the theater or dress like Abraham Lincoln, but I would have loved to see a rowdy bunch dressed with stovepipe hats and fake beards attending the show brandishing their rubber axes. I wonder how many ICP fans were looking forward to this movie.

    I was able to stakeout my favorite seat in the last row toward the middle. There was a new Fandango (I will not reiterate my hated for these commercials) and an unmemborable Mountain Dew commercial that had a Dark Knight tie-in. Trailer comments: Savages just does not interest me and why was there so many couples watching the film? There were a few kids that were a little annoying during the trailers, but during the film their mom became the nosiest person there. I call her “The Clapper.” Every action scene moment was involved with vigorous clapping. I have no issue with this; I like when people get involved with a film and I just found it more hilarious than anything else though sometimes it does take you out of the film while you fight the urge to shout obscenities (I fight this urge and occasionally give in everyday).

    When I write I feel I have to be honest. Whether these feelings eschew "common sense" or betray an intelligent cinematic acumen so be it. I liked and enjoyed the film.* Of course coming into the movie my preconceptions of a martial arts imbibed Abraham Lincoln with a penchant for an axe and body part decapitations like he was in a Chang Cheh directed film was soundly met. There were even the Hong Kong ubiquitous training scenes.

    So much on this film rides on Benjamin Walker’s performance. While he does look like a younger Liam Neeson more than Abraham Lincoln, he does have the height (almost) and plays the role with a deadly seriousness. For me this helped the film, though I know many were expecting camp and kitsch.

    Every vampire film seems to come with its own set of rules. Here we have the ability of daytime vampires, who have to wear sunscreen to prevent skin cancer, and they cannot kill one another. Adam (Rufus Sewell in an effective performance), the progenitor of these vampires, created a enemy when he killed Henry Sturges (Dominic Cooper) only to turn him into a blood sucker so he can suffer for eternity (or whenever you get dispatched by a vampire hunter) after he watched his wife’s death at the hands of Adam. Adam did not conceive that Henry would be that most rare of vampires – one with some remnants of a soul. He then makes it his mission to find and train hunters for his cause to wipe out the bloodsuckers while he is, of course, a bit hypocritical and feeds on the living (only the evil living). He finds and trains Abraham who had lost his mother years ago to the fanged fury of Jack Barts who had recently fired Abraham’s father and demanded, but did not get what he considered owed to him. And then we get to learn the unsung history of Lincoln and his fight against the undead.

    The film is unsurprisingly weak on the historical attention to detail, though its tone is appropriate if you are a Yankee. Some of the secondary characters could have used more attention like the triangle of friendships with Joshua Speed and Will Johnson and I did wonder why they did not do more with the Stephen A. Douglas character which he was alluded to as a vampire (this is not necessarily a fault, just an observation). And some of the dialogues made me cringe such as: "A man only drinks like that when he's planning to kiss a girl or kill a man. Which is it" But I still quite enjoyed the movie.

    Bekmambetov’s cinematic style (with Caleb Deschanel as the cinematographer) seems to owe a lot to Guy Ritchie with his use of CGI, slow motion mixed with real time in action scenes. He lacks the sagacious use of depth and montage that Richie uses in his kinetics, but I found the action scenes quite fun here as they are more geared toward the fantastical than realism (as one might expect from a film with Abraham Lincoln and vampires). The horse stampede/fight scene was impressive. The vampire throwing the horse like he was doing a hammer throw was freaking cool. That was not expected. There is a later train sequence that is equally as impressive with its suspense and conflagration.

    I watched this in 2-D as I read that this was not filmed in 3-D, but had the effects applied later. There was no extra after the credits. I will be getting the BD and/or DVD and a newer axe.

    * When reviewing a film I like to find critics who agree with you. It gives you piece of mind that you are not a complete moron for your views. I am glad Roger Ebert gave it ***/****, though he took some derisive hits from IMDB commentators for giving it a positive review. Armond White does not like the film, but he gives kudos for "Two visually lush sequences in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter belong in a great movie."

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