Friday, June 22, 2012

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
Director: Timor Bekmasomthingorother
Stars: A lot of people you'd recognize but may not know their names

Oy.  I just saw AL:VH tonight and thought I should post about it before I lose any steam. In fact I went for a drink with my dear friend Jenna after the movie and before I could enjoy my cider, I had to jot down some notes so I wouldn't miss anything.  The problem is, this may all come out as gibberish.  I'm not a writer and I'm aware of that. When something burns my bacon this badly, I tend to make even less sense than usual.  Also I'm watching my Gamecocks pull out a win against Arkansas so I'm a little distracted by that too.  It's the top of the 9th but we're only ahead by one run.  Wow, these guys look really young.  I'm getting off track.

My notes look a bit like this:
Jenna's quote
Blast SGS for writing this drivel
Action good but tired of slo mo fighting/blood splatter
CG was terrible
Mary good as Mary but not crazy enough
Dominic Cooper was good but the hair. Oh the hair.
Stylized, if one enjoyed Wanted...
TRAIN WRECK.  Literally.

Now I will expand a bit on the notes.  Jenna, again I will remind you, is a dear, sweet friend.  She goes with me to all the bad movies.  She was with me for Conan and many others since.  She, like me, has low expectations for movies like this but it's rare that one actually pisses us off.  At one point in the movie she leaned over and said, "More vampires than you could swing a dead horse at."  Mind you at this point in the movie a vampire was literally swinging a horse around by the hoof.  Also the swinging of the horse took place during a stampede.  This was one of the fakest looking things I've seen on screen in a while.  (Buh Bye Razorbacks!  Where was I?)  There was another shot of the Gettysburg battlefield that looked terribly fake too.  Shameful use of CGI when it was obvious they blew their budget on the slow-mo fighting scenes.  The whole Matrix way of slowing down action for effect is So. Overdone.  It's especially obnoxious when buckets of blood splatter out all over the place.  But this is a vampire movie and there needs to be blood.  Plus the fighting was pretty cool.  So while I'm on the subject of the look of AL:VH I will mention the director, Timur Bekmambetov.  He directed the Angelina Jolie/ James McAvoy action film, Wanted.  I liked Wanted.  It had some issues but was an enjoyable film.  Timur (I'm not typing his last name out again so he'll have to forgive my informality) likes overly-stylized films and this one, though set in the 1800s, was still pretty stylized. 

I think my biggest problem was the writing.  I read the book, written by Seth Grahame-Smith, and enjoyed it. The whole time I was reading it I kept thinking, "they're going to have to add a lot of action for it to work as a movie."  I didn't like myself for saying that but it's sadly the truth regarding audiences and what studios thing audiences want.  I think the reason the book worked was because it reads like a real Lincoln biography and the vampire stuff was just another layer to his life.  The movie didn't achieve that.  They took out all the clever vampire politicians, the assassination, and the ending (which I really enjoyed).  They added a best friend (played by Anthony Mackie, who I adore) and a vampire baddie (played by Rufus Sewell who I also adore) for unknown reasons. As the credits rolled I had this thought that the Seth Grahame-Smith who wrote the book would (should) be so angry with the Seth Grahame-Smith who wrote the film.  It felt like such a sell out situation.  In the movie, Lincoln only had one son.  In the book he had four, like in real life.  In the movie Mary Todd Lincoln got kind of depressed after the death of her son.  In the book she really lost it and never quite came back, like in real life.  I understand that movies are limited to the amount of content that can be included but would it have killed them to show a few other boys running around the White House?  Would it have killed them to have Mary be inconsolable?    Oh!  I can't forget the literal train wreck.  It seemed rather meta for them to do it but there was a real train wreck inside of a train wreck of a movie.  It was at that point that I nodded and said, "Yep.  That's about right."

I'm not even going to bother going into the actual story.  It's not worth the time or effort.  Plus it's late and I'm tired.  I'm just disappointed because they could have done some really cool things with the material from the book. The movie jumped around and skipped over stuff that should have been there.  It's just so frustrating.

So what was good about the movie?  I did mention the fighting and even though I'm tired of the slo-mo I did get a kick out of it.  Also good was Benjamin Walker who played the eponymous Abraham Lincoln.  He really struck me as a young Liam Neeson.  Then I looked him up on IMDB and realized he actually played a young Liam Neeson in Kinsey.  Give that casting director a pat on the back.  He did a good job in a crappy situation and really knew how to wield an axe (not a euphemism).  In fact all the actors seemed to rise above the material. Mary Elizabeth Winstead was cute and sweet as Mary Todd Lincoln.  Dominic Cooper was good (as usual) as Henry, the Giles to Abe's Buffy.  And, as I mentioned, the rest of the cast did what they could. 

I'm done.  It was better than Conan but I had higher expectations for this than I did for Conan.  I knew AL:VH was going to be bad but I didn't think it was going to be this bad.

I know how you feel, dude.

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