Hayden’s Review(Didn’t Read the Book)
Based on the best-selling novel of the same name, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter chronicles the secret life of our sixteenth president and how that fit into the Civil War. Timur Bekmambetov, the man who brought us Wanted, helms this vampire killing extravaganza, and for the most part, he does a satisfactory job.
Ever since his mother died suddenly when Lincoln was just a boy, he has thirsted for revenge against the monsters responsible. His chance for vengeance comes when he meets a mysterious man named Henry, who agrees to teach the young Lincoln all about how to properly kill vampires. But he soon discovers that there are more vampires all around him than he ever imagined, and that their leader, Adam, has him in his sights. But when the Civil War begins in earnest, the stakes are raised and Adam’s true plan is revealed. Lincoln must stop Adam and his vampire army before the world is plunged into darkness.
Benjamin Walker delivers a powerful and genuine performance as Lincoln, presenting him as a man seething with rage under a calm exterior. He carries the film brilliantly, and his performance is hands down the best, as it should be. Dominic Cooper plays Henry Sturges, his mentor, and does a fine job too. His character adds more depth to the film, revealing that Lincoln isn’t the only one craving vengeance against the undead monsters. Adam, played by Rufus Sewell, is a bland villain with no real depth or distinguishing characteristics from his underlings. Sewell’s performance is equally bland, and many will find him a dull and uninteresting antagonist.
The film contains plenty of nail-biting suspense and jaw-dropping action sequences, but it all still comes off as a bit silly. Often, when this film is brought up, people laugh and dismiss it immediately, stating that they think it is a stupid premise. And those naysayers probably won’t think any differently after seeing the film, if they see it at all. Many people might even be distracted by the ludicrous premise, which might detract from the overall moviegoing experience.
Another issue with the film is that the director takes the vampire bit of the story and sloppily meshes it with the Civil War bit. This may not bother many, but some might wish that more care had been taken in making sure the most integral parts of the story flowed smoothly.
Now on to the action. The fight scenes are so well done that any problem some may have had with the film will likely be forgotten as they watch Lincoln hack and slash his way through countless of the bloodthirsty beasts. The action here is some of the best in any film in recent memory, and upcoming action movies will find it difficult to top this one.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is worth watching only for the incredible action sequences. If watching a U.S. President hacking off the heads of vampires isn’t your thing, then this movie is not for you. In fact, the movie’s events may seem so trivial that some will be left asking, “Wait, didn’t Lincoln have four kids?”
2 out of 5 stars
PJ’s Review(Huge Fan of the Book)
Let me start my review by saying that I am that guy who always reads the book before I see the movie. Am I always disappointed by the movie? Not always. I reviewed this book for Lytherus a few months ago, and I absolutely loved the book. I would read it again. How did the movie compare to the book? It was a very pale imitation and mainly set up as an action flick. I absolutely understand “poetic license”, but there were some very glaring failures that could have made this film shine.
WARNING! There may be some spoilers!
The largest issue for me was how the whole interaction of the vampires with the Civil War was handled. If you read the book, both sides of the conflict had vampires fighting for them. It wasn’t just the vampires siding with the evil, evil slave owners; it was a war that divided the vampire community also. The film didn’t follow this path at all. It was all of the vampires (even Honest Abe’s patron believed that slavery had a purpose) siding with the South against Abe and the North. This would have been an opportunity to develop more of a background story to the vampires and their need for slavery, but unfortunately, a more action-dictated approach was taken. While this does make for a more exciting, action packed viewing experience, it also removed a significant theme from the story.
I am in total agreement with Hayden on our master villian. Flat character with nothing to make him stand out from the pack. It was unfortunate that the focus was on Adam (Rufus Sewell) and not on some of our other bloodsuckers of the piece. Marton Csokas as Jack Barton was a more effective and convincing antagonist early in the film, while Erin Wasson as Vadoma portayed an excellent villianous character who did stand out from the other vampires.
So, what was good about this movie? The action and fighting scenes were amazing. Occassionally, there was some much going on that it as almost a challenge to follow the characters (two sequences pop out to me: one involving horses and another involving fire). The combat scenes between Abe and the vampires reminded of Underworld in that there would be very high pace motion augmented by slow motion to highlight the skills of the combatants. Abe’s ax work was very impressive too, as well as the effects used as the ax is swinging through the air and through various vampire heads, throats, chests, and appendages.
The scenes from the Gettysburg battlefield were impressive. The canons, muskets, and bayonets created the feel of an actual combat situation in the Civil War. It was impressive watching the vampires charge through massed fire and fall upon the Northern soldiers. The smoke rolling across the battlefield, the fear of soldiers facing impending death, and the stills of the dead on the battlefield did create a sense of authenticity.
Overall, this movie does deserve a 3 stars out of 5. If you like insane fighting sequences and decapitations, you will love the action. Horror fans, you might be disappointed. There isn’t anything remotely scary or terrifying about the movie. I think the movie would have benefited from a different script and a different hand at the helm.