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article imageReview: ‘Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter’ isn’t what fans are expecting Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Jun 22, 2012 in Entertainment
‘Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter’ is an inventive retelling of American history that assumes monsters are real and played a key role in building the nation.
It began with the popularity of Max Brooks' World War Z, a "true" account of the zombie scourge through history. The re-imagining of real-life events (and classic books) holds an uncommon fascination with horror readers. Therefore, it was obvious the film adaptations for horror viewers could not be far behind. First to theatres is the big screen biography of one of the greatest American presidents – Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.
Abraham Lincoln (Benjamin Walker) had a modest childhood with a working class father and a loving mother. But when she's taken from him by a vampire, Abe vows revenge against the entire race. He travels the country destroying the blood-sucking creatures at every opportunity until finally facing off with the one who poisoned his mother. With the help of a mysterious man named Henry (Dominic Cooper), his childhood playmate and free Black Will (Anthony Mackie), and good friend Speed (Jimmi Simpson), Abe grows to take on slavery in the South and the vampires that protect their convenient food supply, including Adam (Rufus Sewell), supposedly the first of his kind.
Author Seth Grahame-Smith wrote the screenplay for the adaptation of his book of the same name, but it can almost be considered an original script. He appears to have viewed the change in mediums as an opportunity to do a complete re-write of the original narrative: adding and removing characters, altering previously described history, and filling it with more action than one mortal man could endure. The changes result in a fun theatre experience, but could disappoint fans of the source material. (It's akin to going to a concert and the songs barely resembling the album versions.) Therefore, the film must almost be judged entirely independent of the book.
In the film, the rich story (and vampire-Civil War conspiracy) gives way to a three-dimensional special effects extravaganza. While the 3D enhancement is negligible, the effects are cheerfully horrific. The cat-and-mouse chase between a pack of wild horses results in pony throwing, and an even more surprising catch and recovery. Memories are displayed in captivating flashbacks and stunning illustrations that seamlessly melt back into real-life depictions. The final sequence involving a fast-moving train and a quicker-than-the-eye vampire ambush is quite the CGI achievement as the battle is waged perilously inside and on top of the rail cars.
The vampires are black-eyed creatures that feed on the blood of the living with retractable fangs, using the ability to become invisible to surprise their victims or escape their enemies. They are sensitive to sunlight but not restricted by it, able to travel in the day with sunglasses and appropriate coverings. There is nothing romantic or particularly redeeming about them, so Abraham's vow to destroy the species is easy to support. He does so in impressive fashion with a modified axe and practiced agility.
The film stems on the ridiculous in most instances, but it does so intentionally. So sit back and just have fun – because that's clearly what Smith intended for the movie version of his novel.
Director: Timur Bekmambetov
Starring: Benjamin Walker, Rufus Sewell and Dominic Cooper
More about Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, Benjamin Walker, Rufus Sewell, Seth GrahameSmith, Anthony Mackie
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