Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
Written by: Seth Grahame-Smith (book and screenplay)
Directed by: Timur Bekmambetov
Starring: Benjamin Walker, Dominic Cooper, Anthony Mackie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead
There is one word I can think of to really describe this movie: fun. Now that may sound weird when I’m talking about a movie - and a book - that chronicles our 16th president’s secret double life as a vampire hunter, but it’s true. There’s nothing particularly profound, artistic, or eye-opening about either the book or the film, but they are both action-packed and entertaining. And if Lincoln happens to be your favorite president - well, you’ll either love the story or you’ll hate it, depending on how picky you are about a different perception of history.
I think my favorite aspect of the film was the fact that the author of the book also write the screenplay. A book is like a tender child, especially to the readers, and when it gets handed off to another parent, well … things can get messy. Too often when books become movies, the storyline gets messed with [sometimes necessarily, sometimes to satisfy Hollywood, and almost always to the dissatisfaction of book lovers], but when the author also writes the screenplay it is usually satisfying. For me, that was the case here. Grahame-Smith, as the original ‘parent’ so to speak, knew how to nurture his book into the film it became, and he did it well, at least in my opinion.
The leading actors, mentioned above, all did great jobs with their characters, particularly Benjamin Walker. While none of the performances really blew me away, his got the job done and done well. Dominic Cooper portrayed a bitter vampire - although he isn’t revealed as one, at least not in the film, until halfway through (a change I thought suited the film quite well - again, the author knows best) - quite well also. There was a certain, subtle amount of vulnerability and self-loathing I thought suited the character rather well. Mackie is always entertaining, and Winstead’s performance of Mary Todd draws no complaints from me either. The only thing I might have asked for is a better, more triumphant meeting between her and one of the female vampires.
The graphics are another interesting point about this film, particularly where the vampires themselves are concerned: They appeared to have two jaws. When provoked, what might have been an average-looking person becomes like a screaming ghoul with more than just fangs, but two sets of razor-sharp teeth. It was an interesting take on vampire lore, and one I had not yet seen.
If you’re a history buff, you may enjoy the subtle twists on famous events and people (for instance, vampire participation in the Confederate army, using the Underground Railroad to deliver silver, etc.) that were woven flawlessly into the story. I certainly did. Or you may not, which is understandable too. But if you go in with an open mind, you may at least have fun.
And of course, having been produced by Tim Burton, there is a certain amount of his dark signature present in the film, but it is not as omnipresent as films he directs. It is still clearly Bekmambetov’s film, but there are hints of the Burton themes in the film.
First and foremost, this was an action film. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter delivers just that with a fun twist of history as well. It wasn’t the best summer movie I’ve seen by any stretch, but I really enjoyed watching it.