Drama, 105 Minutes, 2011
First thing first: the premise of this movie is all kinds of bobble-headed-dumbassery. The specifics are that Abraham Lincoln’s mother was killed by a vampire as revenge for a slight by his father. When he grows up and seeks revenge he’s found and trained by a vampire hunter. Apparently vampires from Europe have set up shop in the South and are using the slave trade to build power and as cover for their feeding. He moves to Springfield where he hunts and discovers a talent for politics which he uses to put an end to slavery (and thus squash the vampire empire in America).
The weird thing is that although this premise is clearly insane it also works very, very well. The movie is played completely straight. This isn’t a parody or a satire and that’s a good thing as that would almost assuredly end in failure. The only way to succeed with this premise is to be deadly serious which they are and it works.
The movie does have some pacing issues. The transitions from Lincoln’s boyhood to manhood to presidency are somewhat jarring and punctuated by several lethargic sequences. There’s also some forgivable but notable silliness in the motivations as when young Lincoln attacks, humiliates and escapes the vampire leadership but is still allowed to continue his political career unmolested. (There’s also the small problem that the movie essentially calls out all slave-owning Southerners as evil undead… but as a Yankee I guess I always had my suspicions.)
This is balanced by some amazingly intricate action sequences and set-pieces. The choreography is complex and impressive and because of this we can forgive a rather pointed tendency to slow-motion throughout. Like any good action movie the best sequences are equal parts incredibly silly and incredibly awesome. The is especially true for a visually sumptuous extended one-on-one battle across the backs of stampeding horses. It’s insanely silly. It’s also insanely awesome.
This movie is significantly better than it has any right to be. It may be odd to hear but, as much as possible, it does stay true to history and that helps it immensely. As with “Cowboys and Aliens” [IMDB] which spawned a glut of low-budget “this versus that” movies I fully expect to see a new glut of “famous people with secret lives” movies (and, sadly but inevitably, a very uncomfortable porn parody). How about “George Washington: Werewolf Killer”? Maybe even “Benjamin Franklin: Time Traveler”? We could even do “Andrew Jackson”, um… I don’t know. I can’t think of anything more bat-shit-crazy than Andrew Jackson’s actual life.