Movie review – A bite out of history

2012-08-11 06:08

Film: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (Nu Metro)

Timur Bekmambetov

Featuring: Benjamin Walker, Dominic Cooper, Rufus Sewell, Anthony Mackie and Mary Elizabeth Winstead


Abolutionist American president Abraham Lincoln gets a historical makeover – with fangs.

If novelist Seth Grahame-Smith’s novel Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is to be believed, Abe wasn’t just a fine statesman with a strong moral centre, he was also handy with a silver-edged axe when the need arose from the dead.

Benjamin Walker gives Lincoln a lot more sex appeal than his portraits afford him, but then none of those portrait makers knew the guy was a vampire killer and we all know the only thing cooler than a vampire is a vampire killer.

In fact, Twilight would be vastly improved if an axe-wielding Van Helsing character were introduced to dole out a little discipline to the clutch of sulking teens in it.

Grahame-Smith is the same writer who inserted Zombies into Jane Austen’s classic, causing a literary sensation with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and here again he puts an irreverent spin on a man with impeccable historical credentials.

With Grahame-Smith’s help, Abe’s now down with the cool set too.

Director Timur Bekmambetov is great behind the camera. Like his Night Watch and Day Watch, he seamlessly blends reality with the otherworldly elements of the story.

Much as he did with Wanted, his first Hollywood release.

He draws on a lot of that film’s action sequences to create some great moments of vampire-killing action, including a beautifully choreographed Civil War-era ball that becomes a battlefield.

The young Lincoln works by day in a retail store in Springfield, and by night he vanquishes vampires and buries them in a field with their heads under their arms.

As macabre as the story is, it is equally funky, and Dominic Cooper, who did a superb job in The Devil’s Double, gets his frock coat on to be Lincoln’s mysterious mentor.

Rufus Sewell is creepy as the vampiric lord determined to steal America from the humans and turn it into a bloodsucker’s paradise.

This telling of Lincoln’s story also adds another layer of horror to slavery – if that’s even possible – with the slaves being whisked away not only to work the fields, but to feed the landlords – literally.

This is a genre-mash cinematic splatter fest that is as fun as its title promises.

Historical purists might want to take a valium, but hey, if this gets the children to read about Gettysburg and take an interest in how slavery was finally thwarted, then who cares if there’s a few too many pairs of fangs in this version of the story?

As for getting children to read Pride and Prejudice, well, Natalie Portman has got the rights to Grahame-Smith’s zombie version, so I guess she’ll be the zombie-slaying Elizabeth Bennett – it’s one way of updating the classics for the Twilight generation.

»Follow me on Twitter @GayleMahala

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