Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter (Blu Review): Hey, That Isn't Liam Neeson!

First off, great concept. I know that we kid around and say that horror movies today lack creativity; that the remake cycle is killing creativity; that folks just can’t come up with a new story that isn’t trouncing all over someone else’s.  Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter is a unique concept that at first feels like it found its way somewhere between Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and a Hammer Films plot straight outta the 60’s. The trailers actually sucked me in. I was skeptical based solely on the stills and plot synopsis, but upon seeing the trailer on the big screen… well, I couldn't wait to catch it though I wouldn't get to watch it until it made it’s Blu-ray debut (the price of having little kids). So I loved it, right?  Nope. I enjoyed certain elements. The actors did a fine job, but the execution left me feeling like I was watching the typical vamp/revisionist story line with a little novelty thrown in. I don’t want to discourage you from seeing it though. Let’s get to know Abe and the vamps. I suppose "Tim Burton presents" before the title doesn't hurt although this is hardly a true Burton picture (no Johnny Depp).

Synopsis (ala iTunes):

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter explores the secret life of our greatest president, and the untold story that shaped our nation. Visionary filmmakers Tim Burton and Timur Bekmambetov (director of Wanted) bring a fresh and visceral voice to the bloodthirsty lore of the vampire, imagining Lincoln as history's greatest hunter of the undead.

See what I mean? That’s a bad ass trailer. It might even be difficult for a full length movie to live up to that kind of bad-assery, but that’s the marketing biz. I don’t fault the filmmakers for getting my ghost on this one. Good marketing sells movie, sold me and that’s not a terrible thing given some of the debacle’s that have been handed our beloved genre over the years with movies like The Thing not reaching expectations due to an inability for the machines to sell the damn thing. I'm glad that I wasn't the only one enamored with the preview as even my non-horror buddies were attacking me asking me what I thought about the trailer. I was honest and told them I was more excited for V/H/S and REC 3 of course to which they promptly responded, "what?" to which I promptly remembered that nobody in the really real world even knows who Magnet is and I sound like a film snob even though I hardly qualify as a fanatic or fan boy. 

Note: Isn't the best thing about the trailer the Johnny Cash voice over from "When the Man Comes Around" also used in the remake of Dawn of the Dead? Yeah it is. 

This Blu-ray is gorgeous. This film looks more amazing than the trailer, sounds incredible... the packaging gives me a woody. Maybe that's just my general positive good vibes about seeing a big ol' ax on the cover, but that's how I feel about it. The Blu-ray including special feature array is perfect. It's everything you come to expect from a studio trying to do right by fans i.e. trying to make the big bucks. Digital copy, Ultra-violet thinga ma jig... you know... DVD copy... everything. 

Benjamin Walker plays one mean Abe Lincoln. I'm not the only one who mistook him for a young Liam Neeson right? I mean, I was damn sure that that was Liam, but of course, it isn't him at all. No complaints though. In fact I don't have a single real complaint about the film except that maybe the vamps look like garbage. Not the worst I've ever seen, but I want my Chris Lee, Bela Lugosi... real person lookin' vamp and not these strange off-shoots of bats or monster with fangs. I like the seduction. I abhor the CG. It's everything you heard from me about during my review of the remake of Fright Night except I actually quite enjoyed Fright Night. I can definitely say that I enjoyed the battle sequences especially some of the all out Civil War skirmishes. Unfortunately it falls victim to the same issue I took with The Raid: Redemption; clever violence and all out action for actions sake in modern films doesn't really get me wet. 

Historical inaccuracies be damned. This ain't your mama's historical fiction. This is a writer having fun. Taking two worlds, smashing them together, making something happen or at least trying to be original. I'm okay with that. Keep trying though. Your formula is showing. Of course the story is over the top (did you read the fucking title). Of course it is completely unbelievable. My disbelief is suspended bordering on expulsion. Some of you are going to love Abe Lincoln VH. It's got plenty of action. Does not drag. Good acting and follows the Hollywood movie generic script for crossover action/horror to a T. These kind of movies should always do well at the box office. 

As someone who is more of a horror fan, I dislike how the film strays from traditional vamp lore. True, I just said I was happy to see the writers trying to pull of something unique, but they're still vampires. Let's not confuse newbie horror kiddies by taking our classic myths and knocking them on their arses. Didn't we see enough of that bullshit in the Twilight series. What the fuck do you think is going to happen when the good people of planet Earth discover real vamps? They'll get themselves killed trying to chop them up with silver axes that's what! Seriously thought, it feels forced. An attempt to be different or to standout. Silver ax kills big bad vamp? That starts to feel like something you might find in a Castlevania video game circa 1980-awesome. If that's the case where the fuck is my Castlevania movie adaptation? Simon Belmont sends his regards. 

Consider a movie like ALVH your chance to mindlessly wander along the edge of the horror verse not a trip into a brand new, revisionist history. It's got some comical moments. It isn't terrible. It is entertaining. It was not for me. Civil War nutters... you'll sit through the whole damn movie whining about inaccuracies. Abe Lincoln fans will spend the whole movie cheering and yelling at your TV screen. You can check it out for yourself and purchase the Blu HERE


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