When I first heard about this movie, the idea immediately intrigued me. I thought to myself: I like vampires. I like Abraham Lincoln. It’s a win-win. I realize that the concept is a little too unconventional for some moviegoers, but it should be given credit at least for being original, which is rare in Hollywood nowadays. People constantly complain that all the current releases are either remakes or sequels, and when something original finally comes around they pan it and mock its concept. The vast majority of these douchebags haven’t even read anything about the movie, let alone seen it, before they start jumping to conclusions. The idea of a mashup of genres is brilliant, and the filmmakers succeeded in blending historical and horror nicely.
The plot revolves around a nine-year-old Abe Lincoln witnessing his mother being killed by a vampire, which leads him to seek revenge as a young man. In the process, he meets Henry Sturges, who trains him to become a vampire hunter, and Lincoln begins slaying the vampires that Henry directs him to. Many years later, after he becomes president, Lincoln picks up his silver-coated axe again, making it his mission to defeat the vampires as they side with the Confederacy.
I’ve read that some fans of the book it’s based on were disappointed in the movie because it differed so much from the book, despite the fact that the screenplay was written by the novel’s author, Seth Grahame-Smith. As is the case for most film adaptations of books, some things had to be changed in order to fit the structure of a film, and to appeal to a mainstream audience. Although I haven’t read the novel yet, I understand that it reads like a biography of Lincoln’s life through his diary entries, and the vampire aspect is incorporated into that. The film would’ve been too long and most likely a little too dark if it had followed very closely to the novel.
The main problem I had with the film was the lack of transition throughout. For example, it seemed like Lincoln was a young lad slaughtering vampires, and before I knew it, he was living in the White House with his signature beard. Very little time was spent at all showing him campaigning. Also, for about a 15-minute period nothing exciting happens during his first few years as president, so that part seemed to drag slightly. However, the action-packed third act made up for it.
The film features one of the best transformations into a character I have ever seen. Benjamin Walker embodied Lincoln. Unfortunately, it seemed like the makeup crew spent so much time making Walker look like Lincoln that they forgot to age the rest of the characters convincingly. Aside from a few gray hairs, Mary Todd and Lincoln’s friend Will Johnson hardly look different at all. If I didn’t know any better, I would’ve thought that they were supposed to be vampires themselves.
I saw it first in 2D, and then I went again to see it in 3D. I can count on one hand the number of films I’ve seen more than once in theaters, so that tells you how much I enjoyed it the first time. I must say that I wasn’t too impressed with the 3D. There were a couple of moments that made me jump where the 3D added a little something to the effects, but overall it didn’t really make me enjoy the movie any more. The vampires were fierce and frightening enough in 2D, so the 3D wasn’t really necessary. Speaking of which, it’s good to know some filmmakers are still capable of creating the real, old-school vampires instead of that Twilight shit.
It’s a shame this movie didn’t make more money at the box office than it did, considering it’s cleverer and more entertaining than 90 percent of the crap Hollywood has been dishing out lately. The film knows its concept is ludicrous, and it presents itself with a serious face because it simply would not work as a comedy. The humor is subtle, as it should be. Anyone who was deeply disappointed with it was clearly expecting it to be something it’s not.
Bottom line: I paid to see Abraham Lincoln kick some vampire ass, and that’s exactly what I got.
The DVD/Blu-Ray is available in stores starting Tuesday, October 23, just in time for Halloween (which is when it should’ve been released in theaters so they could’ve marketed it as a horror/action film and not a summer action blockbuster). I strongly suggest you check it out.