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Like watching a movie through dust-covered glasses

There are two spectacular scenes in Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter. In one, the future President of the United States (Benjamin Walker) chases a vampire (Martin Csokas) while leap-frogging off the backs of a stampede of horses. In the other, he fights the big bad (Rufus Sewell) on top of a train speeding across a burning bridge that is about to collapse. It’s a shame these sequences are so dark and murky that it’s hard to discern any details.

We could partially blame the 3D, shattering my 2-movie record of being pleased with the technology (The Avengers, Prometheus). But the movie is also shot in an almost sepia tone. It’s authentic for the era, but not very clear to watch. I’d prefer it be saved for those fake western photos you have taken at the mall, not big-budget summer blockbusters. And more than anything else, it’s the specks of floating dust that constantly jump off the screen in 3D.

I haven’t read the book by Seth Grahame-Smith, who also wrote the movie’s screenplay, so I can’t compare them. Apparently, I haven’t read a history book in a while, either, because I didn’t remember who Stephen Douglas was until he and Lincoln debated later in the movie. (Did I just publically admit that?) The point is, I’m not sure how effective Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter is at melding actual events with fictional monsters. My uneducated opinion is that it is pretty clever shoehorning vampires into the life-to-death story of Lincoln; other audience members were chuckling at parts I didn’t understand.

The one part of history I do remember is John Wilkes Booth. Unfortunately, and I don’t consider this a spoiler unless you’re more uneducated than me, the movie ends with Lincoln riding off to go to the theater. We all know his fate once he gets there. But was Booth a vampire? We’ll never know. It certainly would have fit with the conspiracy that precedes, as a vampire army in the South joins forces with the Confederates to battle Lincoln’s army.

Is the movie any good? It certainly should be. The concept, while fanciful, is treated quite earnestly. (In fact, there’s hardly any humor, unless you know your history, I guess.) The action sequences I described, and others, should certainly be amazing. Then why doesn’t Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter come across as anything but slightly above average?

One reason might be the lead. Benjamin Walker resembles a young Liam Neeson. Is his performance an uncanny impersonation of Lincoln, or is his acting really that wooden? In either case, he’s bland, even with all the twirling of silver-coated axes and Matrix-like moves. Neither do any of the vampires stand out. In fact, the only character who really shines is Mary Todd Lincoln (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). Winstead (The Thing) lights up the screen in an otherwise entirely dark movie.

There’s something about the entire project that just doesn’t interest me. I’ve never wanted to read the book. I had no expectations for the movie, good or bad. And my feelings afterward are, “Meh”. I’ll be very curious to read other reviews and chart its box office performance. Let me know what you all think. I’m sorry that I can neither encourage you or discourage you from seeing it. If they can be of any help to you at all, use my comments to guide you.

REVIEW: Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter
3.0Overall Score
Creepy Kids
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