Rated R for violence throughout and brief sexuality
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter had great special effects, a decent story and spectacular action sequences; unfortunately there was also an 100 minutes of dead time.
The story is pretty much in the title. Back during the early to mid 1800s, the southern part of the United States was run by vampires. A young Abraham Lincoln lost his mom to one and all he wants is revenge for her death. He meets a man who teaches him how to best fight vampires and then of course he grows up to become President. While still fighting vampires. Oh and that Civil War wasn't just about slavery or state rights - it was about vampires.
I had high hopes for Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter coming into this summer. It was on my Fave 3 list (along with Snow White and the Hunstman and Ted. Snow White exceeded expectations but Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter did not. It didn't come close to meeting my anticipation level, but that doesn't mean it was a bad film - it just wasn't as good as it could have been. Visually, the movie was great. The 3D enhanced the film rather than taking away from it, and the gothic look of the film I enjoyed. And I loved the action sequences. There are things in here I haven't seen before, including a big fight in the middle of a horse stampede. And the final battle sequence aboard a runaway train was pretty spectacular. The problem with the rest of the film was rather slow and felt the need to tell this long, drawn out story. It's a simple movie really - man loses his mother to vampires and wants to get revenge. But because this is Abraham Lincoln we're talking about, politics enters the story. And his relationship with Mary Todd. And it becomes about the other vampires in the South who can't afford to lose the war - though as vampires I'm not sure why that matters. By the way, while I understand every vampire story has its own rules for vampires (don't worry, no one sparkles here), I always thought the two major rules were they can't enter a house without permission and they can't be in the sun. Both of those things happen with barely a word of explanation. Make up your own rules if you want, but at least explain away the traditional ones you're breaking. I did love the vampire special effects though. They didn't just grow long teeth when they needed to, they actually turned into monsters that were very creepy.
The movie clocks in at about 105 minutes and I was expecting a nice 100+ minutes worth of action. I mean, based on the title I figured it was a movie about a vampire hunter, not a movie about the rise of Lincoln. I'll wait for the Spielberg movie about Lincoln to get my fix of politics. I want him to kill more vampires! Relative unknown Benjamin Walker plays the 16th President and he bears a striking resemblance to Liam Neeson. As a young Lincoln seeing him throwing around his axe made sense. But when he grows into the President and has that full beard and age spots, it became a little more comical. Entertaining, but comical. The rest of the cast was just sort of there. No one really stood out, no one did anything special. The movie is really about the visuals, which is why the insistence on focusing more on the story didn't make sense to me. This should be a fun movie, not a serious one. There's a moment towards the back end of the film that sort of sets Lincoln's resolve to fight to the bitter end and it's a moment that was overly serious for this kind of film and frankly, rather sad. The special effects and fight sequences were so good that it made the rest of the movie pale in comparison. Is this movie worth seeing in theaters? I'd say yes, only to get the complete immersive 3D experience on a big screen, but don't go in looking for a non-stop action film. You'll have to make do with a serious film that happens to have vampire slaying in it.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, I liked Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter but I really wish there had been more action. Because the action sequences were so good, the majority of the movie felt very slow and more like a movie about Abraham Lincoln and not a movie about a vampire hunter.