July 8, 2012

My reviews of the gorgeous, suspense-packed action-thriller Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter are now up on their respective websites.

Whodathunk this movie would provide such bloody good fun that it renders the loopholes and awkward segues quickly forgettable? Certainly anyone expecting an actual history lesson on the 1800s or insight into the gestalt of a fantastique world that already includes bloodsuckers reignign in the South, the anti-slavery American president as a monster hunter, and vampires with a weakness for silver is clearly in the wrong movie.

Yeah, right. I think the new Disney rom com would be more your taste. And with a title like that? C”mon, the filmmakers are letting you know what you’re in for, and it’s not a Morgan Freeman drama stint. Enjoy this with popcorn and  in 3D. You’ll thank me later.


Movie review: ‘Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter’ explodes with superb action-horror

BY KARL R. DE MESA July 5, 2012 3:56pm
The President as action hero isn’t a new concept in Hollywood. Just see the template pioneered to pitch perfection in “Air Force One,” as Harrison Ford picks up an assault rifle to save the day against Russian extremists. But in this movie, where the President combats supernatural forces, he needs to be transformed into a superhero.

“Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” is a potent cocktail of bloodsuckers, politics and reimagined history. You will come away from this one speechless and happy, all good signs of a pure entertainment experience.
Adapted from the similarly titled book by Seth Grahame-Smith (who also wrote “Pride Prejudice and Zombies,” and does screenwriter duties for this one) this movie covers 45 years in the alternate history that is Abraham Lincoln’s life, 1820 to 1865, from his childhood up to the time of the Civil War, when he was President.

We begin in Kentucky, where the Lincolns are eking out a life near the frontier as hired help for the lumber and fishing industries. When the very young Abe stops a slave monger’s whip from hitting his childhood darkie friend Will, his father is forced to intervene, thereby offending the local boss, Jack Barts (played to sneering scoundrelism by Marton Csokas). Later that night, Abe watches helplessly as Barts, now transformed into a fanged monstrosity, hovers over his mother and bestows a curse on her, causing her to waste away and die days later.
Years later, Lincoln has grown up into the tall and strapping Benjamin Walker (“Flags of Our Fathers”) and tracked down the villainous Barts, shooting him on the docks. Problem: Barts is a vampire and nearly succeeds in killing Abe if it weren’t for the timely intervention of Henry Sturgess (Dominic Cooper). It is under Sturgess’s tutelage that Abe is educated in the ways of hunting bloodsuckers, gaining proficiency with a silver-lined axe in tracking, detection, and the all-important cardio.
“Lincoln’s life story is an archetypal superhero origin story,” exclaims Grahame-Smith. “He’s as close to an actual superhero as this country’s ever seen. Forget about vampires. Lincoln had neither family name nor money… With no education, and armed with just his mind, he became president and saved the nation.”
His hunting adventures take him to Illinois, Louisiana, and eventually to the hallowed halls of Washington. In between, he meets his future wife Mary (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), uncovers the hierarchy of vampire society all the way to the still living progenitor of the American bloodline Adam (Rufus Sewell) and his general, the beautiful and vicious Vadoma (played by gorgeous Texan model Erin Wasson).
A monster story
 The movie may be rated R-13 for the historical weight, but the amount of gore, blood and some nudity (from the corpse of a prostitute) really scores this one its adult ranking. While Tim Burton polishes off the visuals with his signature gothic sheen, it’s really the filmmaking muscle of Timur Bekmambetov (director of Wanted, Night Watch and Day Watch) that gives this movie its horror brick and mortar.
“I wanted to see Timur’s version of this story!” said Burton, who was initially set to direct but instead stepped back and took producer duties. “A big plus was that Timur is from another country, so he provides a different perspective on these characters and historical events.”
Read the rest of it HERE.

REVIEW I ‘Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter’ is a thrilling horror and action extravaganza

By Karl R. De Mesa, · Saturday, July 7, 2012 · 11:37 am

There’s something to be said about alternate history tales, especially movie adaptations of books in the recent slew of classic reworkings infused with monsters. They’ve certainly been responsible for more teens in the post-noughties age discovering canon literature than any Dead Poets Society style teacher living out his cool mentor dreams.

Count among them Seth Grahame-Smith’s “Pride, Prejudice and Zombies”, which has taken the young adult market by storm and kicked open a domino phenomenon of bandwagon jumpers.

See, even by the droll-meets-action concepts of those books “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” stands several hands taller, a collision of blood, history, and that curiously American way of democracy that venerates its Presidents as legends—especially Lincoln and JFK.

Add a touch of Tim Burton (who does producer duties) with a Russian director’s stunning imagery and what you have is a movie as explosive as a Molotov cocktail.

I kid you not, I expected nothing more from this one but average B-movie fare, but what I got in return was a horror and action extravaganza that put it in the category of must-watch.

Lincoln’s encounters with the feared bloodsuckers begins in Kentucky where what passes for the local mafia boss curses Abe’s mother with a wasting disease, leaving her dead and covered with ugly welts days later.

The 10-year-old Abe, a few nights previous, watched the vampire hover over his mother but was frozen and helpless to do anything except vow revenge.

Fast forward, years later, to Benjamin Walker as the adult Lincoln, who has tracked down the villainous vampire Jack Barts, played by Marton Csokas, and ready to put a bullet through his brain.

Abe succeeds and shoots Barts near the outhouse. Believing him dead, Abe also tosses his pistol into the river. Bad idea, that. Barts is up and at Abe in no time at all, nearly killing him if not for the timely intercession of Henry Sturgess, played by “My Week With Marilyn’s” Dominic Cooper.

The revelations and the training come quickly. Sturgess downplays nothing for his new apprentice and educates him with a history lesson of how the European vampires started migrating to the New World before the explorers ever did, preying on the native Red Men, then stoking the fires of conquest of the old Empires and coaxing them to send fleets across the Atlantic, culminating in the African slave trade and their establishment of a power base in the Midwest and Southern States, fanged aristocrats among the bayous and the swampy plantations.

It is also under Sturgess’s none too gentle hand that Abe learns to wield an axe, the methods of hunting bloodsuckers, as well as the limited ways in which to destroy them.

Read the rest of it HERE.


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