Sunday, July 1, 2012

At Least It Didn't Suck -- Reflections on "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" (2012)

Even a President needs a hobby.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter delivers precisely what it advertises. About the only surprise the film offers is that it isn’t very tongue-in-cheek. There are no winks at the audience, no silly foreshadowing to events in Lincoln’s life from a modern point-of-view. Even his eventual assassination is handled in solemn fashion with only the slightest dramatic irony implied. What’s left is a straightforward genre flick that presupposes slavery is the only cause for the Civil War, and that vampires tried to reign supreme over our divided union circa 1865.

And all this was good enough for me. I enjoyed Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, even though it has a really predictable script, a see-through hero’s journey, and a couple silly leaps in logic and insanely lame use of cinematic time. This is mainly due to the performances of Benjamin Walker in the titular role, and Dominic Cooper as his mentor, Henry. Both are having a blast playing their characters full-tilt crazy, and Walker, in particular, really benefits from his anonymous resume as you can’t really see him as anyone but Lincoln. His delivery of the Gettysburg Address is about as good as anyone could do without falling overboard into the pool of sentimentality.

There’s not much else to say about the film. You won’t like it if you don’t enjoy films in the fantasy/horror genre, and if you’re a history buff, you’ll no doubt scoff considerably throughout and take to mocking it. But, if you’re interested in shutting your mind off and enjoying watching our 16th President wield an axe as if he were cast in a John Woo film, you’ll dig this for its simple pleasures.