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Marina Antunes [Celluloid 06.22.12] action vampires adventure 3-d

I recently read an interview with Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter director Timur Bekmambetov in which he explained that the appeal of Seth Grahame-Smith's novel is that it mixes two unlikely genres in such a way that it makes the real history of the period not only more appealing but easier to understand. I like revisionist history as much as the next girl and can see where Bekmambetov is coming from (I'm sure it's easier to remember the events surrounding your favourite action novel than it is to remember the events surrounding the Battle of Gettysburg) but reading Grahame-Smith's novel, even though it features vampires, never appealed to me though it did sound like the perfect fodder for the movies; especially one as bombastic as this.

Turns out Abraham Lincoln wasn't just the 16th President of the United States, he was also a vampire hunter. Determined to avenge his mother's death at the hands of a vampire, Abe meets Henry Sturgess, a hunting master who teaches Abe everything he needs to know about hunting vamps who, in this universe, are day walkers who can de-materialize. Abe does eventually eek out his revenge before hanging up his axe and taking on politics but the pesky vampire problem never goes away and soon its clear that Adam, the bad daddy of all vampires, is using slavery to grow and maintain the vampire race in hopes of creating a vampire nation. Too bad Abe has silver, enough silver to deliver a massacre that nearly wipes out the vampire population and insuring the United States remains a country of the living.

It may well be dotted with real tidbits of history and reading about the producers and actors talk about their roles gives me a bit of pause since they all sound convinced that they're making some sort of serious drama when in fact, this is a ridiculously over the top action adventure which just happens to be set in a familiar period of history. Watching Abraham Lincoln didn't remind me of any history lessons but it did resurge my love for Bekmambetov who is one of the few directors that can pull off ridiculous without losing the audience. Yes, I laughed at the horse parkour, the slow motion and the occasionally questionable effects but it's all delivered with a fervour that nears hysterics. It's one of the reasons I like Bekmambetov's work: he doesn't do anything half way. If you're going over the top - you go all the way and there's a joy to seeing his off-the-rails stunts.

I am starting to get the sense that one of the reasons Bekmambetov's movies work is not just because they're huge spectacles but because his actors are fully committed to the craziness of the story. There's never a feeling that they're winking at the audience (even when they're breaking the fourth wall as Wesley does in Wanted). The actors give it their all and quite frankly, you'd have to be completely incompetent to waste Dominic Cooper, Rufus Sewell, Anthony Mackie and Marton Csokas. Yes, they're clearly having a good time (particularly Sewell who is fabulously evil as Adam) but they're also playing their roles straight as if this was some high drama with something important to say.

The 3D is unnecessary, the floating blood splatter is great in the beginning but quickly gets old, the slow motion is typical of Bekmambetov so crying about that is like crying about Ridley Scott and his director's cuts - pointless, but I did like the fact that the 3D enabled the effects team to create a glow to the vampire's eyes. I completely enjoyed the sublime ridiculousness of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and eagerly anticipate the next bit of overwrought emtertainment from Bekmambetov.

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Charles Widmore (10 years ago) Reply

Now bring on Pride and Prejudice and Zombies!


Speedy (10 years ago) Reply

If using Bram Stoker's Dracular for the main cannon.. Vampires are ALL able to walk in the daylight, they just turn into very strong humans.
Drac was always able to change to mist, rats, dog and bats.

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