Susan Granger's review of 'Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter'
Published 2:14 pm, Friday, July 6, 2012
Before you dismiss the absurdity of the pulpy title, consider that the 16th President of the United States was a strong, rail-splitting outdoorsman and, according to some historical scholars, quite capable of throwing an axe at the blood-sucking undead.
Unfortunately, the metaphorical concept never lives up to its power-packed potential, even as Honest Abe explains: "History prefers legends to men."
As a child, Lincoln kept this secret journal, revealing that he and his father clashed with villainous slaver Jack Barts (Marton Csokas), whose bite killed Lincoln's mother, Nancy. Years later, Lincoln (Benjamin Walker) learned the art of vampire assassination from Henry Sturges (Dominic Cooper). So by the time he's settled in Springfield, Illinois, studying law, Lincoln has become adept at eliminating ghouls using an axe with a silver-tipped blade. Despite Sturges' warning not to become too attached to other people, Lincoln woos and wins young Mary Todd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and is reunited with his childhood friend, former slave William Johnson (Anthony Mackie). But when Lincoln eventually slays Barts, he becomes the target of the Southern vampires, led by New Orleans-based Adam (Rufus Sewell), who's politically aligned with the Confederacy during the Civil War because slavery enables vampires to legally purchase humans to satisfy their blood-lust.
Based on Seth Grahame-Smith's comic novel, directed by Timur Bekmambetov ("Wanted," "Night watch") and produced by Tim Burton, this idea for this relentlessly gruesome thriller was spawned when Grahame-Smith was touring the country in 2009, promoting his previous book "Pride and Prejudice and the Zombies," which was displayed along with Lincoln biographies and the "Twilight" vampire romances.
"I thought, rather cynically, if you combine those two, you'd be on to something," he told the WonderCon convention in Anaheim. That's how Abraham Lincoln became a 19th century superhero.
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On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" is a ridiculous, revisionist 4, redeemed only by Bekmambetov's inventive, R-rated action sequences, particularly the CGI horse stampede. The horror and decapitation carnage is even more vivid in 3-D, if you're into grisly gore.