Lincoln Film Won’t Log Fans: ‘Vampire Hunter’ is All Guts, No Glory

Don‘t expect a fantasy with presidential substance—movie is just mindless entertainment.

The problem with historical fiction is that the viewer comes into the movie already knowing the ending. The challenge then for the writer and director is to make the audience care about the journey, rather than the destination. It is here that Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter fails.

Directed by Timur Bekmambetov and based on the Seth Grahame-Smith’s best-selling novel with the same title, the film chronicles the secret life of the 16th president as a vampire slayer. But missing from the movie is the humor and heart that makes the book enjoyable.

Abraham Lincoln (Benjamin Walker) vows to kill all vampires after witnessing the murder of his mother at the hands of a vampire when he was a boy. As an adult, Lincoln manages to track down the vampire but fails to kill the vampire and is almost killed himself until rescued by Henry Sturges (Dominic Cooper). Sturges then becomes Lincoln's mentor in vampire hunting.

With the help of Struges, Lincoln becomes a skilled slayer and later, becomes an Abolitionist when he learns that vampires are using slaves as a food source in the South. The filmmaker then takes the audience through the Civil War.

Despite having an interesting foundation, the director never gives the audience a reason to care about Lincoln.

Walker, in his Hollywood debut, with his natural comedic talents did what he could with the character but was never given a chance to create a compelling character—which is too bad, because Walker can act. He got rave reviews playing another president in the Broadway musical Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson but in Vampire Hunter, Walker's talents are wasted.

Yes, vampires are vile creatures that needed to be eliminated. Yes, slavery is repulsive and should be abolished. But there seems to be a disconnect between the two horrors—rather than complementing each other to give the audience the sense of dread about the situation, they seem to cancel each other out.

Bekmambetov seems to favor action and pacing over storytelling. He never slows down enough to let the moment sink in or to the let audience invest in the characters. The frenetic pacing makes the steller action sequence that much more fun and exciting, but like an amusement park ride—it was great while it lasted, but unsatisfying when it’s over.

This movie, however, was not geared toward people who appreciate plots and character developments. It is marketed toward the crowd who enjoys the blood and gore of a good vampire slaying, the Comic-Con crowd.

In that respect, it is an entertaining film, much in the same way that cheap fast food will satisfy your hunger but not satiate you.

As one audience member remarked at the press screening, “It’s so bad that it’s good.”

The nearest theaters to La Mesa-Mount Helix featuring the film are:

GROSSMONT CENTER 10, 5500 Grossmont Center Dr., La Mesa.

EDWARDS RANCHO SAN DIEGO 15, 2951 Jamacha Road, El Cajon.

REGAL PARKWAY PLAZA STADIUM 18 & IMAX, 405 Parkway Plaza, El Cajon.

“Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” opens nationwide Friday. It's Rated R for violence throughout and brief sexuality.

Monica Zech June 23, 2012 at 03:14 PM
I took a chance and saw the movie yesterday - I enjoyed it. Interesting, and yes silly, concept - but it was well done, good special effects - and entertaining. That's why I go to the movies - to be entertained. It's science fiction, fantasy - that's what it delivered plan and simple. MZ


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