Later this year, the 16th President of the United States will get the epic biopic treatment by Steven Spielberg in his adaptation of Doris Kearns Goodwin’s bestseller “Team of Rivals,” titled simply LINCOLN.
But if you can’t wait until then to see Honest Abe on the big screen (and you want a longer more convoluted title), here’s a movie, also based on a bestseller (by Seth Grahame-Smith), that attempts to spice up the historical record by adding supernatural elements to it.
Unfortunately it’s not a successful experiment, mainly because of its lack of charm and humor, and its dull formulaic storyline. With its premise, one might expect some outrageousness – like the tongue-in-cheekiness of a Bruce Campbell project, but there’s no BUBBA TO TEP-type fun to be had here.
Benjamin Walker, who resembles a young Liam Neeson (actually played a young Liam Neeson in KINSEY), plays Lincoln, who when not studying law and working in a general store, is out killing vampires with a axe/gun contraption.
It takes a stylized montage for Walker to be trained for action by his mentor Dominic Cooper, who appears to be channeling Tim Curry, then the film rolls from one set-piece to another – none of which provide any excitement. The pacing is so off that not one of the supposed to be sudden shots revealing in-your-face fangs is the least bit scary.
The special effects factor is underwhelming as well, with the 3D conversion muddying up instead of enhancing the imagery. The blustery Civil War battles between the mortal humans of the North, and the slave-owning vampires of the South are too messy to allow any tension, likewise the literal train wreck climax.
Then there’s the awful dialogue. Whether spoken by Walker, Cooper, Anthony Mackie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Mary Todd Lincoln, or Rufus Sewell as the film’s lead vampire villain, the overwrought over-simplistic lines are laughably bad throughout the entire overlong movie.
It feels weird to say this about a film entitled ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER, but it takes itself way too seriously. I mean I guess it’s cool that Bekmambetov and crew want to pay so much respect to Lincoln’s legacy, but, c’mon, have a little fun with the concept, why dontcha?
As it stands, this film joins this year’s Edgar Allan Poe thriller dud THE RAVEN, and last year’s Shakespeare-was-a-fraud fiasco ANONYMOUS as incredibly misguided movies that screw with history and end up screwing their audiences too.