Flapperdoodle's Gaming Blog Ep. 82: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter Review

Posted on June 23, 2012 - 5:57pm by Flapperdoodle

TLDR;

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is more enjoyable than you'd think. It has a solid cast, some awesome looking effects, a very clever plot, and drama and character interaction that can actually be taken seriously for its own good. But the movie also suffers from abrupt tonal changes, very predictable plot twists, and action that is so embarassingly overdone and unrealistic, it becomes unintentionally funny. This would be fine if the drama was as bad, but it isn't, so the drama has no excuse to be this over the top. Even with that being said, still worth a watch in a theater.

Dear Readers,

Well guys, finals are over, my last day came and went, and school is now finally over. Which means… it's time for Flapperdoodle to graciously return to blogging! That's right everybody, Flapperdoodle is back, and to come back with a bang, he's going to do a solid SEVEN for SEVEN week! One blog, every day, for a full week. It starts this Saturday with this review, and it's going to go on for the rest of the week. Expect some episodes of the Perfect Platformer, hopefully some Legend of Korra reviews, and other misc. blogs I make. But for now, I am continuing my movie season adventures, as today I went to go see the movie that everybody has been doubting; Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.

   

Satire is a very strange thing, isn't it? Sometimes satire can be so serious, it's fun, and other times the movie can just be silly and fun to watch, making the movie aware of itself. Other times though, the movie can take itself to be satire sounding, but end up being way too serious for its own good. When you hear a title like "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter", you obviously laugh a little inside, because the name is so silly and ridiculous that you would never expect such a dumb idea to be converted to film. But, hey, it was a novel, so why not a movie? After trailers were released and the cast was discussed, many people were expecting this movie to be a fun romp that would have awesome action and violence, and fail on every single other department. I was walking into this movie thinking it was gonna be so bad, it would be good. The action looked great, but the plot looked painfully unrealistic and poorly paced. So, does "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" deserve a tip of the top hat, or does it more so deserve a silver bullet to the face?

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter Review

Benjamin Walker as Abraham Lincoln holding his silver tipped ax, kicking zombie ass.

It is 1818, a young Abraham Lincoln has lost his mother to a vampire, a group of people who are rising in population. Soon, nine years pass by, and a now older Lincoln (now played by Benjamin Walker) decides to get revenge on the vampire who kills his mother, Jack Barts (played by Marton Csokas). After a sad attempt at killing him, he gets saved by Henry Sturgess (played by Dominic Cooper), a vampire hunter who is skillful in his craft. After Lincoln persuades him, Henry teaches Lincoln how to kill vampires with a silver topped ax. Years later, Lincoln lives a life of his own as a law student by day, and a vampire hunter by night, along the way meeting Mary Todd (played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead), his eventual wife, and long time friend William Johnson (played by Anthony Mackie), and becoming the employee of shopkeeper Joshua Speed (played by Jimmi Simpson). However, he soon is revisited by Henry, who is afraid of him forgetting his vampire hunter duties. Throughout his life, the vampire race becomes bigger and bigger, and once the Civil War approaches, Abraham Lincoln learns of the South army being filled of vampires being led by a vampire simply named Adam (played by Rufus Sewell) and must find a way to stop the vampires, before they win the war.

I was walking into this movie certainly convinced this was going to be one of those situations where the movie is "so bad it's good". The concept looked inherently stupid, and the plot looked contrived, and the only thing that looked special was Walker's performance, and the epic action and effects. Surprisingly enough, Abraham Lincoln is actually a very enjoyable movie, and was able to earn a much stronger recommendation for a theater viewing than I had planned to give.

(from left to right) Walker as  Lincoln and Dominic Cooper as Henry Sturgess.

If anything was expected from this movie right away for me, I knew if anything was gonna save this movie, it was going to be Benjamin Walker's performance. And let me tell you, he definitely does a good job. Whether he's younger lincoln, or the well done older lincoln, he does a very good job as both personas. And, while this may surprise you, the rest of the performances are actually quite solid. Dominic Cooper as Henry Sturgess is very likable as his character, and while he does overact, he does deliver some pretty well acted scenes and lines. Anthony Mackie is ok as Will Johnson, who really isn't given much to do in the first place, but does well with what he is given. Mary Elizabeth Winstead does a surprisingly subtle job as Mary Todd Lincoln, as she doesn't overplay the role, but she does ok with whatever she needs to do. Jimmi Simpson does a surprisingly notable job as Joshua Speed, as he does give the movie some personality when needed. The villains also deliver as both Marton Csokas as Jack Barts and Rufus Sewell as Adam are ok as the villains. They don't add much to the movie, but yet they aren't bad, so it didn't take me out of the movie. The acting isn't anything so impressive (maybe besides Benjamin Walker), but none of the performances make the movie any worse.

Sadly though, the movie didn't need the acting to make it suffer from problems. If I have to speak of the movie's smaller flaws, there's some that are worth mentioning. For one, the movie is very predictable. I'm not gonna lie, my friend and I were calling out the twists throughout most of this film, and we got most of them right. In fact, we called out one of the movie's biggest twists, because it gives it away in the first 15 minutes of the movie. We didn't get many of our guesses wrong, and one of them was hard to figure out due to bad editing and weird plot execution. Another thing the movie suffers from is very unnatural tonal shifts. I will not spoiler anything, but let me just say that one of the biggest battle scenes occurs, giving off a very intense and thrilling tone, and then an event happens to two of the characters where the tone completely shifts a total 180, and that is where I drew the line. The movie does good at keeping a tone steady for a while, but when these shifts happen, it is so sudden that it will confuse you on how to react. The movie fixes both of these problems around the end of the movie, but these flaws were very apparent. There were a few consistency flaws and some editing flaws I saw, but those flaws were minor, and most of the time people won't notice them.

Rufus Sewell as Adam, most likely grabbing Abe's ax as he attempts to hurt him.

Now, I'm sure you as well as many other people are guessing the largest problem with the movie is the plot and pacing… but what if I told you that the plot was one of the best parts of the movie? Like George Washington, I cannot tell a lie, the movie's way of integrating Lincoln's historical events with the actual plot of the movie is brilliant. There are many times in this movie when they will bring up vampires and explain historical events using vampires, and it was believable and clever. I'm not saying every way is brilliant, but I will say that many times you'll have this reaction of, "oh yeah, that actually works and is pretty cool". Not only that, but the plot is easily followable, it's well paced, and the movie does a good job of keeping the plot mostly consistent and enjoyable to watch. Plus, the ending of this movie, while a little odd to watch, is a very interesting way of letting the story come full circle. Other strong points about the movie to take note of is the well done aging makeup for some of the characters in the second half, and also the thrills in this movie, because when the movie does need to thrill us, it does it very well. But another major selling point for this movie is the creature design and the overall execution of the vampires. While I do prefer vampires slightly more subtle like Dracula, I did like the violent badass outlook the movie took to it. Plus, this is probably obvious, but the effects are very well done, and you can easily agree with me after seeing the final battle in this movie. Very awesome.

Erin Wasson as Vadoma, straddling Walker as Lincoln under a chair. Kinda hot actually.

Now, it's time for me to spotlight the biggest problem, but it is very hard to truly describe it. Now, what may surprise many of you is that the movie takes itself very seriously when it comes to character development, plot, chemistry, and chemistry. Many people were pissed off at this, but I disagreed. I thought that if the movie could go all the way, I would've loved to see a more serious approach to this. Make it and epic movie about an awesome president kicking ass, sorta like 300 but much less graphic and much less of an epic. And for the most part, the movie succeeds in making me believe the characters and believe the plot and overall keep me seriously invested in the plot itself. The movie does a good job at staying serious drama wise. Sadly, the other side of the movie, the action side, is not serious in the slightest. It is so sad how overdone and how unrealistic the action is. There are kicks, flips, and moves that I feel would've fit more appropriately in Street Fighter, Dragon Ball Z, or Devil May Cry. In fact, and I swear to this, one action scene in the movie turned into a game of Frogger. Some of the things done in some action scenes could never happen. And not in the "oh, it COULD happen" way, in a "THIS COULD NEVER HAPPEN" way. It pissed me off, because half the tonal shifts I just mentioned is not only in plot and tone, but also in your emotion. I was cracking up to hysteria during one action scene since it was so crazily stupid, I was dying.

The action is well directed, don't get me wrong. It has some epic kills done by Lincoln, there's some good choreography, and the final battle scene is very epic, as it was well executed. It is so hard to really back this up, and I do see where that comes from, but hear me out. I get the movie is meant to be a satire, so I get that the action is supposed to be very unrealistic and dumb. And I would accept this, except that the drama is actually very serious and well done being serious. If you want to be a serious believable satire, go ahead. If you want to be a funny and "aware of your serious" romp, more power to ya. But you have to go all the way. You can't go half and half and expect us to take it. When your drama is respectable and believable, and your action is overdone and unrealistic, the tone becomes way to unintended to be hilarious. That's the biggest problem with the movie for sure, it is very double sided with its execution.

Walker as Lincoln making a speech to a large crowd of people.

"Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" is a surprisingly enjoyable film. It has solid acting, the action is fun to watch, the plot is very clever, and the movie's makeup and effects are very well done and impressive. The movie just suffers from some very typical problems I see in many movies. There are very sporadic tonal shifts, the movie is very predictable throughout the whole adventure, and the movie is just to divided on how to take in the movie. It doesn't decide whether it wants to be totally serious or totally hilariously stupid. I get you want tones to vary, but there has to be an underlying tone, and this movie tried to have one, but the action was way to over the top for that to be solidified. I can definitely recommend this for a theater viewing if the movie intrigues you. If you think the movie is going to be too serious for its own good, than you may wanna pass, unless you love to crack up when it comes to action. My final grade for "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" is a surprising but well deserved:

7.5/10: Pretty OK

Trust me, the movie is worth seeing for sure. Sure, it sounds stupid and the plot sounds way to silly for its own good, but I will say that it's a nice romp with a clever plot and some badass action. Expect some awesome action. And while I may think the movie is flawed for having over the top action, the action is so fun to watch, and it will make you laugh very loudly. Trust me. Expect a blog tomorrow… and the next day… and the next day… and the next day…

- Larry :)

And the next day…

And the next day…

And finally, the next day…

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