Friday, March 22, 2013

Review: Abraham Lincoln - Vampire Hunter (2012)

Review By Disgruntled Monkey

Director: Timur Bekmambetov
Starring: Benjamin Walker, Rufus Sewell and Dominic Cooper
Writer: Seth Grahame-Smith

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’ was such a massive literary hit I knew that I would eventually need to read it. However as I was never a fan of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ the addition of zombies couldn’t persuade me to try it. Then Seth Grahame-Smith released his follow up novel ‘Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter’. Quickly buying it I found a story that I loved. The story was surprisingly indepth and the characters engrossing.

When I heard the movie was being made, not only with a screenplay done by the original author, but also directed by the mind behind ‘Night Watch’ and ‘Day Watch’ I was excited, positively tingling at the prospect of a new vampire movie far removed from the Twilight world.

Oh how I wish I had stuck to the novel. While the visual style of the movie was very interesting, everything else was a nice big pile of disappointment - not to be confused with a sadness pile as described by Patton Oswalt. So where did it all go wrong? Put simply it was a very dumb movie, that made me feel dumb for watching it and anything that might have proven interesting was quickly rushed through.

The story I remember from the book was hacked to pieces. I’m surprised at how this movie lacked some of the nuances of the book, considering it was written by the same person. Personally, while I think Seth Grahame-Smith is a great novelist, he seems to have a weakness when it comes to screenplays. I wasn’t impressed with his work on Dark Shadows either. He just seems to have an inability to bring the characters to life and fully develop them on the screen.

Learn to love the axe!
However the writing isn’t the only thing that’s lacking - even the acting is a bit blasé. Most of the main actors seem to be taking this movie a little too seriously and it makes the film all the more dull. Benjamin Walker as Abraham Lincoln just never grabs me; his mentor Henry Sturges (Dominic Cooper) is a little bit more lively but isn’t given that much to do. I think the biggest disappointment was Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Mary Todd Lincoln. She is a respectable actress yet has nothing with which to really grapple here. Merely appearing to move both the movie and Abraham along when the plot calls for it, she comes across more as a talking item rather than character. Rufus Sewell as main bad vampire Adam has his moments of moustache twirling villainy which I admit I did enjoy, but there really wasn’t enough.

Visuals are the strongest part of this movie with some interesting scenes keeping me somewhat invested; if not emotionally connected. Timur Bekmambetov is always a stylish director, and has proven with films like ‘Night Watch’ and ‘Wanted’ he is capable of producing an action movie with some depth. Unfortunately with this film he just doesn’t gel with the material.

If you see this movie playing on a Saturday afternoon, and you don’t have anything else to do, then this movie might offer some interesting action. Other than that, the movie is pretty flat with characters that you don’t really get to know and a story that seems to be rushing rather than concentrating on its potential. Disappointing overall.

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