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Preview – Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

14 Mar 2012
The Great Decapitator!
You’d swear a project entitled Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter couldn’t possibly go wrong. A combination of the US’ most beloved president and the Transylvanian national pastime, it’s an endeavour that practically writes itself! But though the universe’s physical laws dictate any 90 minute period concerning Honest Abe and his vengeance fuelled quest to rid the Americas of rampant, vampiric apartheid MUST mark the very pinnacle of audio-visual stimulation, I have my concerns. Mostly because I’ve read the book... They read it too. That's why they look sad. Unimaginably, AL: VH could end up going either way. So as I tally up its potential merits and drawbacks, feel free to draw your own conclusions. It’s what Lincoln would have wanted. CONS Seth Grahame Smith: Author of the titular novel, Grahame Smith takes the most logical (and deliciously ridiculous) progression since his debut’s* premise and plays it totally straight. *Pride and Prejudice and Zombies Humour and spectacle, events and circumstance both ludicrous and absurd are largely absent from this 384 page read. Instead, we are treated to a serious exploration into the life and political machinations of the Great Emancipator. Only now with added Vampires! Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter is by no stretch a bad read. It’s relatively engaging, occasionally compelling and utterly unique. But it’s hard to shake the feeling this was a missed opportunity. 3D: At this late stage, the point pretty much makes itself! Concentrate more on shooting a beautiful film than wasting resources on infuriating bells and whistles, please and thank you. Trailer: Eerie Johnny Cash voiceover aside, there was something inexplicable naff about the recent batch of trailers. Not in the good way, mind! Disappointingly, a sense of the film’s sombre tone is alluded to and though it pains me to admit, 2012’s AL: VH could parallel the novel’s dreary mood. At least, that’s what I thought, until my eyes gorged themselves on a bit of this... PROS Axe-Fu: ... Employing Abe’s trusty tree-felling chopper as a weapon of spinning martial precision? I’m on board with that concept. Job done. Sold! A half century of cinematic influx from the east sees most audiences familiar with the conceit of twirling swords and looking cool. But replace that with an axe and suddenly this film is suddenly fresh and exciting. For those of you doubting the potency of a well twirled axe, this tree can attest to Abe’s prowess... That’s a quality chop! Cast: Though leading man Benjamin Walker is something of an unknown quantity, rumours that he beat the likes of Timmy Olyphant and Eric “I’m the best thing in every film I’m in” Bana for the lead certainly impress, if accurate. Couple this with able support from Alan Tudyk, Dominic Cooper, Rufus Sewell and the indisputably delightful Mary Elizabeth Winstead and hopefully the acting won’t be quite as wooden as the stakes used to fell the undead! Tim Burton: In light of his recent efforts, some of you might be disillusioned with Mr Burton of late. But the man knows weird! Attached as a producer, it’s unclear how much of a role he’ll play in the creative process. But there’s no disputing he’s a genre veteran and his films never forget to reflect on more fantastical elements.
A name synonymous with bizarre filmmaking, Timur seems a natural candidate to direct this project and infuse it with appropriate levels of ridiculousness. Popularized for his lauded adaptations of the unusual Night Watch franchise (Night Watch, Day Watch) Timur is also responsible for the criminally overlooked Wanted, which featured a delightful array of innovatively spectacular gunfights. Let’s hope he can bring this same level of invention to the axe-wielding commander-in-chief. Ultimately, I’m still on the fence. My doubts over the misplaced tone and mismatched atmosphere remain. However, a film is a much, much bigger process than a novel. The greater number involved, the more likely someone will notice ‘Hey, shouldn’t this be ridiculously over the top and entertaining?!” Yes. Yes it should. The first clue was the soddin’ name... “ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER” What the hell else could it be?!!
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