Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is a serious biopic exploring the horrors that slave traders (known as “vampires) held over the US and how President Abraham Lincoln used words and inspiration to bloodlessly inspire an entire nation.
…OK you got me, of course it isn’t that!
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is a movie that explains itself in the title. If you can’t get past the promise of the title, you should probably just skip the movie. If you read the title and think that this is a movie that you think you want to see, I think you will certainly enjoy yourself.
If this is your first time reading one of my reviews, let me explain that I hate when reviewers tell you everything about a movie. I think part of the fun of seeing a movie is to experience it as it happens. So I usually just tell you about the basic premise and then how the elements of the production work overall and what stands out, if anything. I also cover family-friendliness, because I have a family and I am usually pretty sensitive to “objectionable content”. I always think “could my kids watch this?” I usually cover the basics of things you may want to keep your children from at this time.
On to the review!
“History prefers legends to men. It prefers nobility to brutality, soaring speeches to wild deeds. History remembers the battle, but forgets the blood.”
Abraham Lincoln was not only our 16th President, he was also a secret Vampire Hunter, according to this movie and the book it was based on. That’s really all you need to know about this movie. Seriously. If Abe Lincoln fighting vampires sounds cool to you, you will enjoy this movie. I think you know already if this movie is for you.
AL:VH was directed very stylishly by Timur Bekmambetov, who is most well known for the Angelina Jolie and James McAvoy action flick Wanted. The design of this movie was intriguing. It stuck close to typical “period” stylings, but had a small gleam of Steampunk floating around in there. I dug it. The 3D served the action well for the most part, with some great slow-motion action sequences which meant that you could see what was happening. The 3D seemed to be most effective in the panoramic establishing shots, as well as the shots of vampires attacking. The makeup effects were pretty good and creepy, reminding me of the vampires from 30 Days of Night and Fright Night. These vampires can walk around in daylight, but they certainly don’t sparkle.
The movie (and from what I understand, the novel as well) tries to tie in our fictional vamp-hunting Abe in with real events in history, grounding the film in a quasi-reality. I thought that was neat. This material could easily be made to venture into parody, but this film plays it straight the whole way. I respect that. The action sequences may be over-the-top and may even incite laughter, but the movie is never winking at the camera saying “this is silly”. Like Honest Abe himself, the movie sticks to it’s guns and blazes a trail forward.
The acting was very enjoyable with Benjamin Walker leading the way as a very believable Abe Lincoln. He did a nice job portraying a historical figure, while still giving him a personality. His partner in hunting played by Dominic Cooper was enjoyable as well. The always enjoyable Rufus Sewell played the head of the vampires with a quiet dignity and power, with that look in his eyes of somebody that has been around for a long time and has seen it all.
I never thought I was missing a movie about an undead-ass kicking Abraham Lincoln, but after seeing this movie I wonder how I went so long without it! As I mentioned briefly up above, the ties to actual history are intriguing and serve to actually make me want to learn more about President Lincoln, just to see where those connections.. connect.
Well, this is about a vampire hunter. The vampires are the nasty kind and kill people in a bloody fashion. In return, Abraham kills THEM in bloody fashion! So yeah, this is a very violent and bloody movie. Most of the violence is in slow-motion as well, and if you watch it in 3D, blood and scariness is flying all over the place. There are a few swear words used, but the worst of them is used for comedic effect. There is also some “blink and you miss it” nudity. I think the inclusion of the swearing and very brief nudity was simply there to ensure a “R” rating, as the violence is stylized enough that I could see the MPAA awarding this with a PG-13 otherwise.
I thought this movie was a lot of fun. It has some good performances, good action, and a fun premise. It even made me WANT to learn more about history! I think it is worth seeing on the big screen, just for all the action sequences and panoramic shots. See in 3D if you like 3D in general, otherwise go for the 2 dimensions. It even gave me a couple laugh out loud moments, which I would love to discuss in the comments below, if anyone wants to join me…
Spoilers for what made me laugh out loud:
1. Most of the horse stampede scene had me chuckling, but when the vampire THREW A HORSE at Abe, I lost it.
2. The line “Abraham Fuckin’ Lincoln” made me burst out laughing as well. I think it was the combo of the delivery of the line and the unnecessary swearing that got me.