Sunday, 1 July 2012

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

I don’t know what I expected from this film but I told myself it would either be so bad it would be good or it would be amazing. 
Based on a book of the same name, it tells of Abraham Lincoln on his journey through life becoming a vampire hunter and President, fighting a war against slavery, the south and vampires.

I was very pleased to note that this film has a deeper level then simply slicing vampires with an axe.  This film’s theme is race and it is centred around slavery where the vampires are key slave owners, running plantations and feeding on the slaves.  From a cynical point of view I was a little disappointed that the vampires took the blame for human’s past sins but it is also quite a clever idea. 

In fact this film has a lot of clever concepts, one of my favourites is that if a person is bitten by a vampire it can go either way; if the person is pure of heart then they simply die but if they have sinned then they are turned.  However, this also led to a sad inconsistency in the film; despite the theme being slavery there is a definite strong lack of black vampires.  So many slaves are bitten by the vampires as the demons feed and it just isn't logical that they are all pure of heart. 

The acting in this film is excellent with some great names (keep an eye out for the lovely Alan Tudyk of Firefly, 28 Days and A Knights Tale fame and the gorgeous Rufus Sewell who was also in A Knights Tale).  The action sequences hold this film together and the choreography of the fight scenes is breathtaking.

I love it when vampires are a little different.  The vamps of True Blood, Twilight and Supernatural are boring.  I loved the vampires in 40 Days of Night, for example, and Priest.  The vampires that Mr Lincoln hunts are fabulous.  Their look, their skills (to disappear at will) and most importantly their killing face and fangs are gloriously original and I applaud the writers, special effects people and make up artists.

I find this next bit difficult to type, I’ve never said this about a film of this genre before.  Abe Lincoln: Vamp Slayer has everything I love – vampires, fantasy, action and a wonderful President Lincoln twist.  And yet...I’ll just type it quickly, it’ll be less painful that way...
I wanted to walk out of the cinema during this film.
There, I said it.  I have not wanted to walk out in the middle of a film in...I can’t actually remember the last time.

The plot was full of holes and awkward in places and the character development was non-existent.  I could see the certain twists and turns where I was supposed to gasp but I just didn’t care who lived or died.
But this film can (and should) be taken as an action filled romp and character development is therefore not necessary so I sat back and tried to immerse myself in vampy goodness.  Then came a scene that made me squirm, my legs muscles twitching, my eyes flicking to the exit signs; a horse stampede scene that was not just completely unrealistic but also the CGI was bad, very bad.  
On the other hand, my husband loved it!  So what was that about?  I am crouched in my seat in abject horror and he was on the edge of his, thrilled.  Was it because when I was little I studied horses and the awful CGI that plagued the scene made my skin crawl?  No.

There is something I cannot abide about fantasy.  In my mind fantasy is so much fun to watch and write because anything can happen, there are no rules except one; everything that happens must be logical and realistic, within reason.  For example, in Buffy the Vampire Slayer the vampires immediately know martial arts when they crawl from their grave.  Fine, they are demons.  Buffy, as the one and only slayer, is just as strong and able to match vampires in their fighting capabilities.  This is important to note; none of the other human characters are physically capable of what Buffy or the vampires are.
In Mr Lincoln: Vamp Beheader, Abraham Lincoln is portrayed as a normal, mortal man who is suddenly capable of felling a large tree in a single blow, not to mention being able to jump on a horse’s back as it gallops past at full speed or actually stand up unhurt when a vampire hurls a horse at him.  Suddenly the magic is gone, how does Abraham Lincoln fight vampires that are so much stronger than he is?  Just because, apparently.

Surely this should make this film a little unpredictable (I’m sure it came as a shock to Abe when he didn’t die while stood in the middle of a stampede of horses) but unfortunately not.  The plot is predictable but I can’t mention any examples without giving spoilers.

It’s a tricky one.  What worries me is the evidence stacking up of just how difficult it can be to write good dark fantasy.  I love vampires, werewolves and darkness and yet so many programmes and films just leave me cold.  I am determined to write a dark fantasy novel that doesn’t make me squirm or yawn.  While watching this film, I mentally checked through my novels for characterisation and plot development (yes, I was that bored in places).

Not all is lost, my husband described this film as ‘poor but alright’ which for him is a compliment.   There are so many good ideas and some really good parts.  I enjoyed the ending and despite wishing I were somewhere else for the last hour and half, it left me hankering for a sequel!
In hindsight this film isn’t so bad but I can’t ignore my initial reaction.  Still, this is a good action romp but I perhaps wouldn’t pay good money to see it.

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