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Abraham Lincoln Hunts Vampires with Horses and Bayonets
By Hervé St-Louis
October 24, 2012 - 00:18

Studios: 20th Century Fox
Writer(s): Seth Grahame-Smith
Starring: Benjamin Walker, Dominic Cooper, Anthony Mackie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Rufus Sewell
Directed by: Timur Bekmambetov
Produced by: Tim Burton
Running Time: 105 minutes
Release Date: October 23, 2012
Rating: R (Restricted)
Distributors: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter reveals the true life of Abraham Lincoln, concealed to all but revealed through a series of personal journals he wrote about his ongoing hunt for vampires who enslaved slaves in the South and fed upon them. This is of course, a fictional account that casts the iconic president who presided on one of the most important conflict in American history, the Civil War. Will Lincoln’s quest rid America of vampires cost him his life ultimately?

When I saw the preview of this film in theatres this summer, I cringed and of course, did not go see the movie. What was the point of that? But when Fox offered me an opportunity to watch the film which comes out on Blue-Ray and DVD now, I accepted. As the movie’s actors, screen writers and producers say in the lengthy extras, this movie plays it straight and proves as is said once in the comments from the production, that Abraham Lincoln was such a mythical and great figure that adding a super hero twist to his story will not detract from his historical figure and accomplishments. It just fits in.

What I’m interested in is what it says about America, when an old president, respected by many, hated by others is brought back as a modern day super hero to inspire men and women who seem to lack confidence in the current crop of political leaders. Often, biopics make their subjects seem greater than nature and endearing to audiences. This film is not a biopic although it covers its bases thoroughly.  Benjamin Walker is a minor actor with just the right look and height to pull off the role of President super hero. I’m not sure how much of his stunts he performed, but he seems like a great action hero with the right boyish look that one should watch for in the future. This film of course is nothing to write home about. The story is straightforward. Abraham is honest and as upstanding as possible. This film, for those who fear it might make the historical figure silly, doesn’t do that at all. It may somehow, encourage a few adults to open their history books.

In the 2008 American presidential election comic book artist Alex Ross portrayed Barrack Obama as a super hero. This election, he no longer is a super hero, but up here in Canada, Justin Trudeau, son of the one of the most popular and controversial prime minister in history is currently feeding a Trudeaumania 2.0, which is much similar to the one his father, Pierre-Elliott Trudeau generated, 45 years earlier. Both Canada and the United States are plagued by cynicism of the new politics, where teleprompters and memes promise to replace real political engagement that new technologies such as Twitter and Facebook promised four years ago. There is no painting of a mythical Obama or anything similar about his Republican presidential contestant, Mitt Romney. Instead we have a tired but smart president who has to rely on slick one liners to score points and win debates and a used car salesman with a history of exporting jobs overseas.  In Canada, we have a cynical and cold calculating prime minister who introduces omnibus bills containing significant changes to laws drafted by Lincoln’s contemporary, Canada's first prime minister, John A. McDonald that Members of Parliament from his own party are not even privy to. How can revisiting old presidents that stood for something and that challenged the great evils of their time not be fodder for modern day heroes and examples for jaded citizens?

Abraham Lincoln is black and white in this movie. He is all good. His friends stand by him throughout the story and are as wholesome. If you haven’t seen the movie, he does jump on horses and fights with bayonets. It’s almost eerie how that theme fits with this him. About the vampires, they are evil and the scum of the country that the Federates are willing to ally themselves with at one point in the film in order to defeat the Union. This movie is not as gory as I feared it would be. It’s an action film about a historical figure kicking asses and stumping on vampires. It’s about as bloody as your typical zombie film.

The photography however is excellent. The sets are beautiful and the action, reinforced by tons of green screen effects can sometimes be muddy and confusing. It’s not an intellectual piece, so don’t dismiss this film. However, do stay for the extras and the original animated film included in this film that builds on the lore introduced in the film. It’s quite fun. Since, I’m cynical about politics these days, I’d say this film is a Godsend.

The Great Calamity Graphic Novel
Audio Commentary with Writer Seth Grahame-Smith
The Making of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
-Dark Secrets: Book to Screen
-On the Set: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
-Vampire Hunting: Fight Choreography
-The Art of Transformation: Make-Up Effects
-A Visual Feast: Timur Bekmambetov’s Visual Style
“Powerless” Music Video by Linkin Park

Rating: 6.5/10

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