Sunday, June 24, 2012

Movie Review: "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter"

When I read Seth Grahame-Smith's wildly inventive Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter last year, I was amazed at how much I enjoyed it. So when I saw that not only was it being adapted into a film, but one of my favorite actors, Benjamin Walker (who was absolutely amazing in the Broadway musical Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson two years ago), would play the title role, the movie quickly made it onto my list of most-anticipated films of the summer of 2012.

Like many things you eagerly anticipate, the movie didn't quite live up to my expectations. It definitely was an enjoyable, well-acted, action-packed film, but in the translation from page to screen, it lost a little bit of its off-kilter creativity, even though Grahame-Smith wrote the screenplay himself.

As in the book, Abraham Lincoln first comes into contact with vampires at a young age, and as a teenager, finds himself under the tutelage of the mysterious Henry Sturgess (Dominic Cooper). Henry turns Abe into a one-man, vampire-ass-kicking vigilante, who promises to kill those vampires Henry sends him after, with the idea that one day Henry will let him kill the vampire responsible for his mother's death. Lincoln settles in Springfield, Illinois, where he meets Stephen Douglas and is charmed by the beautiful and independent Mary Todd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), although Henry warns Abe not to build attachments to anyone, because the vampires will use those connections to hurt.

The movie, as the book did, interprets history in a very interesting way, even if the movie isn't quite as true to Lincoln's life as the book was. The Civil War is held in parallel with a war Abe has with Adam (Rufus Sewell), the creator of the vampires, and his mysterious henchwoman, Vadoma (Erin Wasson)—but interestingly enough, both struggle over similar core issues.

For an action movie, this movie isn't as fast-paced as you'd expect, although there are some terrific fight scenes and special effects. Walker and Cooper both have a terrific magnetism, and Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker), who plays Lincoln's childhood friend, Will, brings a quiet power to his role. In the end, I enjoyed this movie, but not as much as I'd hoped I would. I'd definitely recommend you not spend the extra few bucks for the 3D version—while the effects are cool, they're not crucial to the story.

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