Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (Rated R) Four Stars

07-11-12-movie.gifAbraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (105 minutes) is a movie that knows exactly how silly it is, and demonstrates it by playing straight all the way through. Some people might argue that because it is so silly it should have been less serious, but those people are wrong. I, for one, do not need to be hit over the head with humor, and if this film had gone for more obvious comedy we would have ended up with another Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter. Yes, that is a movie and I watched it, and it is not nearly as cool as it sounds.

It is 1818. Vampires have infiltrated every level of American society thanks to the invention of sunscreen and CGI. A young Abraham Lincoln, confronting the realities of slavery, is also exposed to the creatures of the night. Eventually Abraham Lincoln (Benjamin Walker) grows up to resemble a young Liam Neeson and screws up his courage to slay some vampires. Seeing as how he doesn’t have a clue about killing the undead, he is lucky enough to make a friend willing to school him, Henry Sturgess (Dominic Cooper).

After a training montage, Lincoln is dispatched to Springfield, Illinois with strict instructions to keep a low profile and not hook up with any chicks. He immediately finds a room and employment with Joshua Speed (Jimmi Simpson). Since Jimmi Simpson is incapable of looking trustworthy I spend the rest of the movie waiting for him to double-cross the heroes. Eventually, the romantic subplot kicks into gear with Mary Todd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) showing up to complicate his after-hours hobby, because Abraham Lincoln doesn’t follow instructions very well.

Even though the head vampire Adam (Rufus Sewell) is totally aware that Sturgess is training vampire slayers, he is apparently in no hurry to put a stop to that. I suspect that is because Adam is a poorly conceived character, and his sister Vadoma (Erin Wasson) is not much better. Basically, she is there to wear a corset and look hot while acting as a counterpoint to Mary Todd. They are both just so darn supportive of the men in their lives! When Adam finally figures out who is slaying vampires in his town via some shoddy plot convenience, he lays a trap. He kidnaps an old friend of Abraham’s, pretty, pretty Will Johnson (Anthony Mackie).

Despite the wisdom accumulated from a vast lifespan, the many powerful minions surrounding him, and Abraham’s stupid decision to bring an untrained civilian along on his rescue mission, our heroes manage to escape. The narrative skips over the specifics of their travel back home, probably because figuring out how they manage not to get killed and eaten by Adam on the way is too tricky for the writers. Once home, Lincoln marries Mary and enters politics on a platform of ending slavery, motivated by the knowledge that ending slavery will prevent vampire domination of America. No, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but really, you’re watching Abraham Lincoln killing vampires, so how much sense do you need this to make?

Director Timur Bekmambetov has a very distinctive visual style, and if the narrative isn’t doing it for you, at least it’s pretty to look at. You can even play a nice game of spot the Timur image — the scene at the end with the train going off the rails is reminiscent of the train scene in Wanted, for example. Overall, this is a movie that sticks close to its roots and should appeal to its target audience of comic book fans. If it does well enough at the box office, maybe we can get them to produce a sequel … George W. Bush and the Creature from the Black Lagoon.

Now showing at Wynnsong 7, Carmike 12 and Carmike Market Fair 15.

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