Friday, 22 June 2012

Review: Abraham Lincoln - Vampire Hunter

CAUTION: Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter poster

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (3D)
105 mins / Dir. Timur Bekmambetov

Imagine, if you will, the aura of Interview With The Vampire, told through the lens of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, with all the rompy fun of Van Helsing, but none of the campy humour. That, ladies and gentlemen, is AL:HV.
Now I'm aware, of course, that a large percentage of you disliked at least two of those three films I mentioned in comparison. Personally, I loved them all, which is why I enjoyed Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. It's not perfect, and it certainly isn't for everyone, but it kept me consistently entertained for the best part of two hours, so it's already ahead of many movies I've seen this year. It's also worth pointing out that Mrs Blackout also rather liked it, so it's definitely more action than horror, despite the Cert.15 rating.
After the BBFC card and the studio logos, there are no opening credits for Abraham, and no title card. And while I'd say the introduction isn't rushed, exactly, there's no slack left lying around in the setup. We're introduced to young Mr Lincoln and the events in his childhood that turned him into the axe-wielding killer we've all come to see, and the story steams through at full pace for about an hour. At around that point, I'd wondered exactly how short this was going to be as it seemed to be cramming a lot in and leaving quite a few loose ends (ie, looking like an 85 minute film). But then it keeps building. It doesn't really slow down any, although there are a couple of lulls before the climactic battle which seem to drag, by comparison. The result is an oddly paced film.
It still works (for me, anyway), but it feels like running for a bus and wondering what's falling out of your pockets: you won't know until you've got your breath back, and by then you've got to deal with not having it.
On a more specific level: The 3D is patchy. It looks great in some moments, looks muddy and out of focus in more, and is almost non-existent in more than those put together. I'm not a 3D-basher, but I'd recommend you see this in 2D. Also guilty of inducing a headache is the hand-held shaky-cam at the beginning of the film. It's difficult to pull off at the best of times, but combined with the 3D, it's a bloody mess. Thankfully this doesn't really come into play after the first twenty minutes or so. The rest of the film looks fine, and the effects work is mostly on-par (although the 'ageing' process of Mary Elizabeth Winstead is amazing for its barefaced laziness).
Now, given the preposterous nature of the movie (remember the title?), it's acted extremely well. Not outstandingly or anything, but everyone manages to keep a straight face and deliver a surprisingly 'realistic' script. My brain kept wanting to nitpick and ask questions about certain props, events, lines etc... but AL:HV has a kind of inherent silliness that renders any criticism of historical factors redundant.
Not being familiar with the source material, I was worried that maybe too much money had been thrown at something that should be a low-budget 'quirky' film. But that part in the trailer with all the fire? That's the flashiest bit, and when you see the full sequence, there's no way it could have been done on a smaller scale. Sure, it's over the top, but you remember the title of the film, yes?
Benjamin Walker brings to mind a young Liam Neeson, for all the right reasons (in fact, I was disappointed they didn't hire him for the second half of the film as the 'older' Lincoln), and Rufus Sewell seems to be channelling the spirit of Ian McShane as Adam, the film's bad guy and head vampire. It's kind of like a Muppet Babies of badass, in that respect.
If you run with that silliness, you'll enjoy Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. But if you don't get on with it, I won't hold that against you.
Oh, and it's nice to see the vampire/silver connection used again. Too many movies ignore this.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.

• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

1 comment:

  1. The premise is ridiculous, but so is this movie and that's what makes it a lot of fun. Still, could have been a whole lot crazier like I was expecting. Good review.