DVD Review: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter DVDSTUDIO: Fox | DIRECTOR: Timur Bekmambetov | CAST: Benjamin Walker, Dominic Cooper , Anthony Mackie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Rufus Sewel, Erin Wasson
BLU-RAY & DVD RELEASE DATE: 10/23/2012 | PRICE: DVD $29.98, Blu-ray/DVD Combo $39.99, Blu-ray 3D Combo $49.99
BONUSES: commentary, featurettes, graphic novel, music video
SPECS: R | 105 min. | Fantasy horror | 2.40:1 widescreen | Dolby Digital 5.1/DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 | English, Spanish and French subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie  | Audio  | Video  | Overall


With a name like Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter–adapted from the 2010 mash-up novel of the same name–you pretty much know what you’re in for from the get-go: a bizarre combination of historical fiction and gothic horror in which one of America’s most beloved presidents turns out to also be an ass-kicking slasher of the undead. If you’re willing to entertain this ridiculous (but potentially-fun) premise, the only lingering question is how well the film pulls it off.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Erin Wasson and Benjamin Walker in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.

The answer: sorta. The first half of the film is more a montage of fight scenes than an actual story, where our protagonist could be anyone- it just happens to be a Matrix-like Abe Lincoln, played by Benjamin Walker (Flags of Our Fathers) channeling his best Jedi-Knight-Liam Neeson. I’ll spare you the plot details, because the film itself pretty much spares them, too. Exposition and character development are rushed through so quickly, it often feels like you’re watching the trailer instead of the actual movie. But of course, that’s the point- director Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted) wants to pack in as many vampire-destroying fight scenes as he can, and fast-forwarding through meaningless details like the story is how he gets there.

To his credit, some of the fight scenes- particularly one where Honest Abe chases a vampire on top of a pack of wild horses as they rush through the plains- are nicely choreographed, and the whole thing is entertaining enough to keep your attention. But two-thirds through the film, Abe does a 180 and ditches his Vampire-Hunter career for one in politics, and the rest is History. It’s hard to tell whether the film is joking or serious in its bizarre retelling of slavery and the civil war- do the filmmakers actually believe we’re getting a useful history lesson? Sure seems that way. But just when you’re wondering what happened to those beloved blood-sucking hipsters, they’re back in a big, heart-pumping finale that shows what a Bad-Ass the Great Emancipator really was.

The end result of this mixed dish is a movie who’s good moments are stolen from better action films, but who’s premise and execution are just oddball enough to make this stand out from the countless other action-horror movies Hollywood has cranked out. If you’re looking for a great movie, this is not it- but if you find yourself on a 6-hour plane ride, watching this sure beats reading SkyMall.

Special features include a commentary novelist/screenwriter Seth Grahame-Smith and a behind-the-scenes featurette where you get to hear producer Tim Burton (Dark Shadows) ramble on about why this is such an exciting project. The special Blu-ray edition adds a graphic novel, more making-of pieces, and a Linkin Park music video, the preferred band of respectable vampires everywhere.



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About Memo

Memo Salazar attempts many things and accomplishes few. His big three are making films, music, and comics, but he'll throw photography, graphic design and film criticism into the ring for good measure. He'll even make you a hand-painted t-shirt if you ask nicely. You can track his activity here when there's nothing else to do at work.