Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter Review

Greetings, Internet!  My anticipation for Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (Lincoln) was stupidly high.  I mean, way higher than it should have been.  I suppose the main reason for this is the mash-up of an historical figure and time mixed with the supernatural.  History is kinda my jam, so this seemed right up my alley.  I had begun to read the book on which this was based last summer, but for some reason I never finished it.  And it didn't matter - I was hooked from the first trailer.

I have a lot to say about Lincoln but I'll try to keep it brief.  If you are looking for an emotionally engaging, thought-provoking summer action film, Lincoln is not the film for you.  It is indeed a summer action film but it is of the "dumb" variety.  I liked a bit about this film despite its lack of depth.  I felt like the performances were pretty good throughout; Benjamin Walker was quite good as the title character, in both his younger and older years.  I'm a huge fan of Anthony Mackie and enjoyed him in his small role - I wish he had had a bigger part to play as his character is really not explored at all.  Dominic Cooper does a good job as Abe's mentor, Henry.  Mary Elizabeth Winstead was just fine as Mary Todd Lincoln.  She didn't really do anything to impress me...but perhaps that was the material she was given.

The action in this film was quite a mixed bag.  At times it was a bit difficult to make out what was happening, or was just plain unexciting.  There were, however, several action set pieces that I thought were just pure baddassery.  Without spoiling too much it involved a battle on a southern plantation and a fairly spectacular train sequence.  I thought both had some cool visual flairs (I am quite the sucker for speed-ramping and slow-mo in general) and were quite exhilarating.

The rest of the film, including the narrative and pacing were more than lackluster.  To be honest, I was enjoying myself the most when Abe was doing his job - killing vampires.  I felt that the love subplot wasn't handled as well as it could have been.  The editing was at times just odd - it seemed that large swathes of time and narrative beats were axed from the film.  The pacing suffered from a lack of action in the second act.  Granted, that time was needed to build up the civil war plot line that would ultimately end dramatically in the third act, but the film just seemed to grind to a screeching halt.  And the CG.  Boy, the CG was pretty darn bad at times.  Whenever there was a wide shot of the Gettysburg battlefield it just looked kinda bad.  Granted, when the camera was up close and real actors were involved the action was fairly good.

Lincoln is parts disappointment and entertainment.  Much like this year's Battleship, I enjoyed Lincoln a bit more than I should have.  All I really wanted out of the film was some cool action set pieces...and that's pretty much what I got.  To use the phrase that everyone uses, I enjoyed it for what it was.  For now, I'm okay with the trend of relatively "dumb" summer action movies, because for every Battleship or Lincoln that we get, we'll also be blessed with Inception, The Dark Knight, or The Avengers.  And that's okay with least for now


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