I haven’t read much of the critical reception of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. These days, in general, I try to stay away from too much blogosphere talk before I’ve seen the films in question. From the little bits I’ve read on Twitter and various blogs, some people have a problem with the serious tone Bekmambetov kept up for the entirety of Abraham Lincoln. Yea, well, too bad. It’s fucking awesome.
I can understand and appreciate people thinking a campier version of the movie would work better, but I just can’t see it, myself. One of the reasons it was so good was because everyone played it totally straight. The comedy came – as it often does with Bekmambetov – from watching shit like an ordinary man chop a tree down with a single axe blow because he’s fueled by nothing but HATE AND TRUTH. If you can’t find the humor in that, then you probably didn’t like that part in Nightwatch when they drove a car sideways across a building, or when that dude stopped a freight train with his face. And you also suck.
The thing is, the amazing atmosphere and all that axe-chopping would have been wasted in a lesser movie. If everyone was hamming it up all the time, the best I could say would be that it had some cool fight scenes and a few laughs. As it stands, though, the experience was all-encompassing. The visuals were what I would expect from Timur Bekmambetov: ridiculously crazy, but with great style and execution. One thing that still bugs the shit out of me is when filmmakers do those sweeping shots of battlefields with people all over the place. They don’t look real. At all. Their movements are never anywhere near the realm of possibility, and I end up just waiting for the scene to mercifully end. It doesn’t matter if it’s Timur Bekmambetov doing it or Steven Spielberg. I was pissed at James Cameron when I saw it happen 15 years ago (it was Titanic and not a battlefield, but same shot and effect), but I guess I’m just indifferent about it now. I kind of expect it, and I can’t wait for the day, 30 years from now, when that shit will finally pan out.
The character progression took an interesting turn Oh, yea, I also watched Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies about a month ago. I don’t want to shock you, but it’s not as good. It’s funny, though, because the whole cast played it just as straight as the one in Vampire Hunter, but to much different effect. Also, Asylum? Spring for some real blood. Even if it comes close to bankrupting your historical epic about the 16th president decapitating zombies, it’ll be worth it in the end. Just throwing that out there.
Besides that, there are two things I found hilarious about Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies. First, there’s the guy who played John Wilkes Booth. His whole plan (in the movie) was to infiltrate the Union, gain their trust, and then sabotage their efforts. It’s one of those great ironies in life when the guy giving a monologue to a zombie about being a perfect actor is, in fact, the worst actor in the movie.
And just in case you need it, here’s some more sucky acting for you.
The second, and more awesome thing, is the use of fake beards on just about everybody. Honest Abe? Fake. That dude over there? Fake. The guy with the actual beard? Oh, wow! That one actually wasn’t fake! Stonewall Jackson? WORST FAKE BEARD EVER.
I somehow managed to stay entertained enough to get through the whole thing, but I’m still not exactly sure how. Looking back on it, it’s pretty boring. I think the beards, and Lincoln’s triumphant “Emancipate this!” one-liner might have kept the whole thing afloat for me. Now that I think about it, I can’t remember anything else. Beards, witty president, sad story about a Lincoln-fucking whore, decapitations, and more beards.
So, the Abe Lincoln story about vampires gets the win over the one about zombies. No fake beards, actually awesome action, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead.