(Note. This is my first review since flooding so it may not be my best, but for now it will do)
ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER
*** Out of 5
Tagline- President by Day; Hunter by Night
Release Date- June 22nd, 2012
Running Time- 105-Minutes
Screenplay- Timur Bekmambetov
Director- Seth Grahame-Smith
Starring- Benjamin Walker, Dominic Cooper, Anthony Mackie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jimmi Simpson, Erin Wasson
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is based off a novel of the same name written by Seth Grahame-Smith who also wrote the screenplay for the film version. Based on the title most would expect a silly shlock fest, but the novel was amazingly written with great characters and a lot more historical accuracy than one would expect. Actually if you remove the vampires from the book it could almost play out like a bio. The novel rates as one of my all-time favorite books and it got rave reviews from legit newspapers, magazines and critics and was a New York Times best seller. Upon seeing the trailer my fears were the film would be a dumbed down version of the book with over stylized Hollywood action rather than built on solid characters and sadly all my fears came true. However with that said there is still fun to be had, but its a shame such a terrific novel was made into a brain dead movie.
The plot follows Abraham Lincoln (Walker) as he battles Vampires on his way to becoming president, freeing the slaves and winning the civil war. Seth Grahame-Smith adapts his novel and I wonder if the changes made were his choice or the studio? I haven’t read much about the script, but even if they weren’t his choice I suppose he couldn’t say if he wants to continue working in Hollywood. Unlike the novel there is very little historical accuracy besides Abraham Lincoln becoming the president of the United States. Like I said the novel actually at times was historically accurate and if you take away the vampire aspect the book can almost be a bio, but really outside of a couple of things there is no historical accuracy.
The screenplay by Seth Grahame-Smith is subpar and is far inferior to the novel. The characters are mostly faceless and boring and character development is pushed to the side in favor of action scenes. I’m not gonna get into all the differences between script and novel, but its different enough that at times it has very little resemblance to the novel outside of the basic plot. Some changes are Abe’s first encounter with Henry (Cooper) and in the film it takes Abe a while to find out Henry is a vampire whereas in the novel he finds out right away. I also really liked the dynamics between Henry and Abe in the novel, but in the film its sloppy and rushed. The character of Will Johnson (Mackie) is created for the movie and doesn’t appear in the book. While again I’m not sure who is to blame for the changes from book to script, but none of the changes are for the better and as great as a book Smith wrote his screenplay is the opposite. Obviously there has to be changes made for the film for timing and since certain aspects of a book won’t work in the film, but this screenplay was a major letdown and even if I didn’t hate the film it takes away everything that made the novel such a great and fun read.
Director Timur Bekmambetov fails at brining much excitement to the film and the action scenes are by the book and are the typical sequences we see in every other Hollywood film. Outside of a few action scenes nothing really stands out. About the only positive thing I can say about the direction is visually the film looks good and despite lacking the film is never boring even if its never really exciting.
I was quite excited for this movie since the novel is one of my favorites and outside of Stephen King’s ‘Salem’s Lot, Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter would be my favorite vampire book and one of my favorite vampire stories period in written word or film, but everything that made the novel so great is pretty much lost in the movie as its overly stylized and everything wrong with Hollywood.
I can’t believe I’m gonna say this, but the Asylum knockoff film Abraham Lincoln Vs. Zombies was actually the better film! My advice is skip this and wait for cable and just read the book and if you’ve already read the book than read it again. If you must see the movie consider Abraham Lincoln Vs. Zombies instead and while that film is far from great it was more enjoyable than Vampire Hunter.
My review might be harsh and I actually didn’t hate the movie, but again I loved the novel so much and the film just strays way too much and is the typical Hollywood film and a big reason why I avoid mainstream cinema. Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter has its moments, but not nearly enough. Perhaps one day I’ll lighten up on the film, but as such a fan of the book this left me with a bitter taste.