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Dan's Review: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Four score and seven years ago, this was still a bad idea...honest.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (20th Century)

Rated R for violence throughout and brief sexuality.

Starring Benjamin Walker, Dominic Cooper, Anthony Mackie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Rufus Sewell, Marton Csokas, Jimmi Simpson, Joseph Mawle, Robin McLeavy, Erin Wasson.

Written by Seth Grahame-Smith.

Directed by Timur Bekmambetov.

GRADE: D+

REVIEW:


Hollywood and history have always had a tenuous relationship. History has a knack for being kind of boring, while Hollywood has issues with things like facts. Whenever the two entities get together, it's always messy, leaving each side with major deficiencies or outright lies. When I first heard the title for the movie Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (based on a book by the same title), I thought it was a bad idea, especially after sitting through nearly two hours of historical idiocy and a deluge of bloodletting while depicting one of our nation's most beloved and celebrated leaders in a trivial light.

Benjamin Walker plays the man who eventually becomes our 13th president, haunted by the death of his mother at the hands of a vampire named Jack Barts (Marton Csokas). Abe vows to avenge his mother's death and as a young man, he encounters Henry Sturgess (Dominic Cooper), a "good" vampire who takes Lincoln under his wing to train him in the art of vampire hunting.

Using his trusty silver-tinged axe, Abe sets off to Springfield, Illinois to seek a law degree and to take out any vampires assigned to him by Sturgess. Before setting off to chop up Illinois' vampire population, Abe befriends shopowner Joshua Speed (Jimmi Simpson) and meets a lawyer/politician named Stephen A. Douglas (uncredited Alan Tudyk) and Douglas' girlfriend Mary Todd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). Abe and Mary hit it off, upsetting Sturgess, who warns Lincoln that friendships and relationships are not healthy for a vampire hunter.

Meanwhile, a hidden vampire organization led by the evil Adam (Rufus Sewell) is plotting to bite their way into an army of blood-suckers. Adam's vampires wreak havoc on Abe's efforts to kill their kind, while constantly threatening Lincoln's loved ones.

Abe decides to ignore Sturgess' warnings and takes up the cause of politics, eventually ascending to the presidency. As the Civil War rages on, Adam's vampire army supports the Confederate cause, and appears likely to win - unless Abe and his friends can get a supply of silver ammunition (since silver is deadly to vampires) to Gettysburg in time to turn the tide of the war.

If all those historical twists sound kind of stupid, that's because they are.

It's one thing to claim creative license in making something as campy as a president who hunts vampires, but quite another to throw every single real historical figure into the mix, like some sort of Civil War celebrity all-star game. Besides the aforementioned Douglas, Speed, Harriett Tubman, Jefferson Davis (making a pact with the vampires) and Mary Todd Lincoln (as if the fetching Winstead playing fence-post plain Mary Todd Lincoln wasn't enough of a stretch already) making dubious appearances in scattered moments of Lincoln's real life history, there are far too many historical conveniences in the movie that were conspicuously meant to accommodate a silly vampire tale.

In other words, the suspension of reality is painfully obvious.

I also take issue with the use of Lincoln in such a gory tale, and I think it trivializes one of the greatest men in American history along with his incredible statesmanship during the most troubling period of our country's history. I really don't think the sight of Abe Lincoln severing the head of a vampire adds to his lore, and I didn't quite make the connection between killing vampires and abolishing slavery.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter belongs in a comic book; not on the big screen.

It's a waste of time and historical nonsense.

Honest.


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