Written by / 11/20/2012 / No comments / , , ,

ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER

year: 2012 cast: Benjamin Walker rating: **1/2

The first half of ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER works the best. Perhaps because there’s more leeway to historical events concerning the life of who many regard as America’s greatest President and there's more ass kicking too.

According to this story, based on a popular graphic novel, a young Lincoln lost his parents to a bloodthirsty vampire and grew up seeking revenge. In his twenties, our spirited yet naïve hero finds a teacher in Dominic Cooper’s maverick vamp slayer Henry, who teaches Abe how to really swing an axe.

Lincoln, played with lanky gusto by Benjamin Walker, has only one bloodsucker on his list – but Henry makes sure his swift protégée wipes out several others along the way. These make for the best action sequences: young clean shaven Lincoln taking out each roaring computer-generated vamp (too loud to be scary) disguised as store owners and pharmacists.

Then after a pivotal sequence where our hero lays down his axe for politics, we skip several years ahead. America’s in the throes of The Civil War and Lincoln, with signature beard and stove top hat, resides in the white house. Putting a spin on real life events, like the death of Lincoln’s son, not only suspends disbelief but throws history in the garbage. Is it in bad taste reshaping the battle of Gettysburg into a gory vampire bloodfest for geeks to marvel at? Sure it is.

But a more contained and personal battle aboard a train – with all the characters together including the main villain who wants to dominate the world – makes us remember this is only a movie. And if you turn off your brain, it can be a somewhat entertaining one.
It usually takes five or six comic books to equal one film. This seems like a stretched-out single issue of a story hardly setting up characters within a two minute trailer-like intro. Then plunging us straight into a cold world where icy religion reigns, and priests, trained to slay, are forced into denial.

Gone are the films when vamps were dark-haired men with capes. Although there is one human neck-biter; Karl Urban’s “Black Hat” is the Lee Van Cleef to priest vamp slayer Paul Betanny’s Clint Eastwood… the latter a man (with a permanent cross tattoo on his forehead) in search of the bloodsuckers who killed his brother and sister-in-law, and kidnapped his niece.

Tagging along is Cam Gigandant, the niece’s boyfriend, part punk, park gunslinger, all attitude. And they have to kill many vampires, each resembling Gollum born with a hyperactive frog's DNA.

The Spaghetti Western theme, with the good guys going from town-to-town in an apocalyptic wasteland, is marred by cheesy monotone-delivered dialog and rushed action scenes. But the finale involving our heroes out to blow up a fast moving train makes this, at best, a semi-enjoyable bite from the neck of a numbskull.
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