Fri 22 Jun 2012
For any lazy high school students out there, I don’t mean for this to be a spoiler but you should probably not use “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” as source material for a report on the American Civil War. Just a friendly tip.
And for those only worried about whether the movie is entertaining in some fashion, let me couch my criticism by stating that this is better than “Jonah Hex“. So that’s good, right? Even without audible cues, you should be picking up on some serious sarcasm. While Abe’s fictitious turn as a vampire slayer may make for a fun read, and the author of the novel penned the screenplay, the end result is an unmitigated disaster and whatever (hopefully minimal) success this may have at the box office, it’s more than it deserves.
Director Timur Bekmambetov has apparently decided to concentrate on all the elements he employed in “Wanted” that made it mediocre: playing with the film speed in every predictable fashion you’ve seen a million times before, creating ridiculous action setups that elicit laughter rather than awe, and earnestly trying to make the story seem larger than it is and not realizing that all of that effort comes off as desperation.
Tossing aside the generally tepid or forgettable performances is easy enough to do. No one is expecting award caliber work from either the actors or the script. However, what audiences should get out of all of this is kick-ass action and amazing visuals. That doesn’t happen. The action is on-par with any cable vampire show (though with a bit more gore thanks to the R-rating) and the visual effects are nothing short of awful; made worse by some of the most terrible 3D of not only this year but any before it.
All of the extra effort to make sure theaters can charge a few extra bucks only makes the sloppy CGI even more muddled and distracting. Scenes that require quick movements suffer the most, as your eyes struggle to compensate and process an already busy visual field only made more cluttered by trying to overlay the 3D effect (seeing a trailer on TV was like seeing a different, and far better composed, visual presentation). In the theater, I found myself taking the glasses off multiple times throughout and not caring too much if any of the images were blurry. The film looked terrible anyway so that wasn’t much of a drawback, and it allowed for a brief respite from the shoddy use a technology that should only be reserved for use by filmmakers who understand how to use it.
There are plenty of other cinematic elements that add to the movie’s woes. Whether it’s horrible attempts to age the actors via pancake make-up and a few drawn-in worry lines or the inability to condense the book into 105 minutes, sitting through the entire thing is only buoyed by one aspect: it’s humor. This is one very funny film … sure, 96.3% of the humor is unintentional and derives from laughing AT its awfulness rather than because of something clever being done or said … but it is funny.
Even still, is it worth $58 to satisfy your love of poorly made cinema? I’ve had worse movie experiences this year but I’m also a film critic and see these things for free. Not feeling the pinch in my wallet makes enjoying a train wreck (literally in this case) far easier. Wait a few days, this will be on TV and you can openly mock it in the comfort of your own home and use the saved money to buy yourself a good movie on Blu-ray. “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” is an amusing concept which may make for a fun read but as a film this is one to stay far, far away from and it’s only because I laughed so much at its ineptitude that I can give it even a 1.5 out of 5.