Posted on Friday, June 22nd, 2012 by Russ Fischer
Two big film releases this week both feature historical settings in which a fantastic story takes place, but Brave and Timur Bekmambetov‘s Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter couldn’t be more different. This film is based on the novel by Seth Grahame-Smith (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Dark Shadows screenwriter) in which Abraham Lincoln (Benjamin Walker) is revealed to be a man tortured by the memory of his mother’s death at the hands of a vampire.
So what’s the consensus on Abe and his vampire hunting efforts? Discuss the film, in spoilerish glory, after the break.
One sequence is (I think) unarguably the highlight of the film: a horse stampede in which Abe and a vampire leap from one horse to another trying to take each other down. Lincoln even has a horse fastball thrown his way. It’s overblown and absurd, and frankly, the movie could use a lot more stuff like it. (A train setpiece at the end gets close.)
Beyond that, Benjamin Walker is fine if uninspiring as Lincoln; Mary Elizabeth Winstead is fairly strong in the supporting role of Mary Todd; Anthony Mackie is present but mostly underused as Will Johnson; and Dominic Cooper is pretty wildly out of place wearing horse-fat hair gel and comically intense expressions as the guy who trains Abe to stake the fanged guys.
Perhaps more important, this is a movie in which a couple major ills of American History — the genocide of Native Americans and slavery — are conveniently blamed on vampires. Sure, it’s supposed to be a metaphor for evil hidden within people, but it’s also a great way to let people off the hook for evils done in the past.
Not that it matters much in this particular context, because this film is far too inconsequential to really push the point. As the story winds on (and on) through the Civil War the “hidden evil” metaphor gets pretty watered down, and the rewritten history is mostly just goofy. There might have been a more powerful vision of history in the source novel, but as it ends up on screen it isn’t so potent.
We’ll have a review of the film from Adam up soon, but in the meantime let us know what you thought of the film.