Thursday, 5 July 2012

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

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Country of origin:USA
Director:Timur Bekmambetov
Genre:Genre mash-up
Starring:Benjamin Walker, Dominic Cooper, Anthony Mackie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead
IMDB link:
Tagline:Are you a patriot or a vampire?
Favourite line:"If vengeance is all you seek, you will never be able to save mankind."

History rewritten by Hollywood?
Not again!
Damn you!!!

The plot:
A young Abraham Lincoln, enraged by the treatment of black slaves, vows to fight injustice wherever he sees it. Facing off against a slave owner, the young Abe does not know it, but he is in fact going toe to toe with a vampire, one who ships slaves south to serve as food for his kind.
Grown up, now, Abe still vows revenge, but his attention is divided between his quest for justice to be meted out on the night crawlers, and the need to lead a country being torn apart by civil war.
Mentally divided, his hand is forced when the vampires join forces with the Confederates of the south.
With his son and wife’s lives threatened, how can Abe bring stability to the nation at the same time as vanquishing the evil vampires and ensuring his family’s safety?

It’s a Timur Bekmambetov film, so you know going in it won’t make a whole lot of sense.
Known as the Russian Michael Bay – a tad harsh, but you can see why – he started his directorial life in adverts, and this sensibility has carried through to his movie-making. Why bother with a narrative thread that actually makes sense and ruins throughout the course of the film, when you can just do three minute sections, string them all together and pretend it’s actually a fully formed film?
Best known for the massively overblown and bizarrely overrated Night Watch and Day Watch films – they aren’t very good, no matter the critical acclaim – here he teams up with mash-up Meister Seth Grahame-Smith to splice genres and alter history, with some degree of success.
A strange mix this as, for the most part, as with all of Bekmambetov’s films, it is style over substance; Abe fighting off hordes of vampires armed with nothing more intimidating than a silver tipped axe. Then, on about the hour mark, suddenly it gets all historical on our asses, the vampires are forgotten, and there is a lengthy section – maybe half an hour – about the American Civil War. To anyone with an interest in history, it’s a worthwhile watch as it seems to be played dead straight, but there was a sense in the theatre of boredom. Shuffling of feet, bottoms jiggling uncomfortably in seats, murmurings of ‘what the fuck is this all of a sudden?’
I enjoyed it, mind.
Then, history lesson done with, it’s back to the vampires.
Stylistically, what we have here is a vague fusion of a Fields of the Nephilim video mixed with, say, a Sherlock Holmes film circa 1950 and, it must be said, it looks quite good.
The special effects, however, are truly terrible.
No, that’s not quite true. I’m sure they look exactly as desired, it’s just that nothing looks real, nothing looks authentic and, as a result, there is no sense of peril at all, which kind of drains away any dramatic tension that may otherwise have been wrung from the scenes.
Faring much better than last summer’s mash-up movie, Cowboys and Aliens, this is probably Bekmambetov’s best film to date.
Neither as good as it could have been, nor as bad as it probably should have been.

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