Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter 2012

Normally, I would research the facts before reviewing a historical drama. But when the title of a film has the name of one of the most influential leaders of the United States, followed by the words 'Vampire Hunter', any need to research facts goes out the window.

With this anything goes spirit and an understanding of how tongue-in-cheek (read wafer-thin) the premise is, I went to see the film in 3D today. And I must say, despite what ever the serious critics may say, I thought the film was a riot.

So, there is Abe Lincoln (Benjamin Walker), the 16th POTUS, who as a child suffered the consequences of a vicious vampire attack on his mother. He grows up with revenge in his heart and is rewarded with a mentor, Henry Sturgess (Dominic Cooper), who trains him in vampire slaying. He is aided by childhood friend Will Johnson (Anthony Mackie) and boss Joshua Speed (Jimmi Simpson) in this endeavour. He also finds time to love, woo and marry Mary Todd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) - but the mission continues to be 'find and kill the original, 5,000-year-old vampire, Adam' (Rufus Sewell), who it seems is a bigger enemy of the state than even slavery.

Does that sound like a really bad plot? Honestly, it is no better watching it, than describing it. And yet, I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Let me explain by first stating that I'm a Timur Bekmambetov fan - and he has directed this brainless venture. Ever since I saw his Night Watch (2004) and its sequel Day Watch (2006), I thought he had made two of the most interesting vampire / monster films and I couldn't wait for Twilight Watch, which Fox was supposed to produce. Of course, it was depressing to see how Bekmambetov sold his Russian / Kazakh soul to the American devil, who shelved the third instalment of this brilliant story and made him direct Wanted (2008) instead. And that was a painfully bad film, which even Angelina Jolie's fabulous body and some beautiful shots couldn't save. So, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (I snigger every time I think of the title) was actually a surprise because I didn't expect it to be worth my time at all.

There are some great jump-in-your-seat moments, some average dialogue and acting, an amazing scene amongst horses and lots of very satisfactory slaying. But above all else, is the director's undeniable stamp on every shot and every post-production special effect. Timur Bekmambetov seems to delight in creating smoky effects and trails of particles on air. That's been his constant in all previous films I have seen - and is used here in abundance. So, the film looks beautiful and generally feels like fun - but is not expected to make you run out and grab a copy of the novel it is based on.

Seriously, what else did you want from a movie with a title like that? Leave your brain resting at home and just keep your eyes open for a visual feast.

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