29 August 2012

Film: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012)

Thoughts: I didn't really mind Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. That said, I'm also a big fan of Wanted; Timur Bekmambetov's other rather reviled CG-fest, so I guess the allowances were to be expected. I could have done with a little less CG though, and a little more steadiness in the fight sequences, but other than that, I can't really fault the picture for doing what it had to do, generally speaking.

You take the history of Abraham Lincoln, and slap vampires on top, and you pretty much have the film. OK, a LITTLE more than that, I guess. Young Abraham sees his mother killed by a rather odious slave owner vampire named Jack Barts, who works for big Southern American vampire baddie Adam (Rufus Sewell). Upon his father's death (of natural causes) 9 years later, an older Abraham (Benjamin Walker) sees this as his opportunity to exact the revenge he so often dreamed of. Unfortunately though, the kill goes horribly awry, and only through the intervention of rogue vampire-killer Henry Sturges (Dominic Cooper) does Abraham survive. During his convalescence he is seen as a worthy disciple, and is trained in the ancient art of vampire destruction and kung-fu fighting, apparently. So off he goes, killing vampires and staying under the radar, until he meets the lovely Mary Todd (the always delightful Mary Elizabeth Winstead), and decides to give up his ghost-bustin' ways, focussing on law instead. Until that dastardly Adam decides to rise up from the south, since that whole slavery thing that Lincoln was kinda known for opposing just so happens to be their main food source (lotsa vampires in the south, see). And so, the Civil War.

If that seems a lot, and like I'm just touch-and-go on a lot of subjects, it's because that is exactly how the movie runs. It goes like a rocket strapped to a rabbit for the most part. It is only in the later parts of the film that the action truly makes way for the serious business of Lincoln running a country and fighting a war of race and whatnot. And yes, the critics are right, the film treats the entire premise as full-serious. But I didn't really mind. I'm not that well-versed in Lincoln or Civil War history, and nor was I entering for a history lesson. I got what I paid for, and I would watch this again.

That said, that desire for seriousness is quite literally shoved off the boat as soon as the action starts up. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter takes that whole stop-start slo-mo thing set down by 300 6 years ago (Jesus, it really HAS been that long, hasn't it!) to a completely other level. Combining that with outrageous CG based stunts and a fairly ripping shaky cam, and things get a little hot under the collar, probably too much for most viewers, as the all the reviews and views seem to state. I guess I'm glad I'm not a regular viewer then, apparently. Or I just have a high tolerance for the absurd today. Because for some reason, not only do these folks (vampire AND human) know how to, say, run and jump across the backs of stampeding horses, but as soon as you join this subculture, apparently you immediately become a black-belt in a variety of Asian martial disciplines. That probably didn't sit well with people either. Me? I didn't mind. It was all nonsense to me.

There's not much to say on the other fronts. Acting was fine, music was fine, everything was just fine. It was all just... there, so no problems here. I did like the use of colour and some of the set designs and lighting choices, but again, I think that's because I'm a fan of Bekmambetov and his visions.

But I could have done with more tussles. There really wasn't many, and they certainly weren't all that memorable. I will say this though, Benjamin Walker + makeup = Liam Neeson/Eric Bana. Seriously, it is fucking eerie and amazing all at the same time. He will literally morph mid-scene- nay, MID-SHOT- from Neeson to Bana. It is crazy as hell to see, and practically worth a ticket all on its own. But regardless, if you liked Wanted, or think you can stomach some serious-bidness history with some of the most nonsensical, ludicrous action sequences this side of The Matrix, go ahead and give it a try. I certainly wasn't let down, unlike most reviewers.


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