2012. 105 Minutes. Rated R.
“I shall kill them all.”
Many librarians know that the historical fiction genre is the toughest for most teens to get into (it certainly doesn’t help that I don’t enjoy reading them, either.) I try giving them acclaimed authors like Avi, Ann Rinaldi, or James Lincoln Collier, but there is no greater sell than Seth Grahame-Smith books from Quirk Publishing. Quirk actually convinced me to read Pride and Prejudice (only because it had zombies in it). Did it ruin the tale? No, my dear reader, it only enhanced its awesomeness. Elizabeth Bennet swings swords, kills ninjas, and still romances Mr. Darcy. This brings me to Grahame-Smith’s second gem of a novel, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, recently adapted into a movie.
Lincoln’s (Benjamin Walker) first exposure to vampires is when his mother dies for an unpaid debt. After this, he devotes his life to killing vampires, taught by his mentor, Henry Sturgess (Dominic Cooper). Henry only gives Abe a few rules before sending him off to slay. The most important is to have no attachments. This all changes when he meets Mary Todd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), reunites with childhood friend, Will (Anthony Mackie), and befriends shop owner Joshua Speed (Jimmi Simpson). With so many ties, it doesn’t take long for the vampires to begin terrorizing him.
These aren’t classic vampires. They can turn invisible, bear sunlight, and kill mortals with just a few drops of their blood. Luckily honest Abe’s “truth” unleashes a madman power within him. He begins working in the grocery shop by day, and slaying by night if Henry sends word. While he eagerly awaits his revenge on the vampire that killed his mother, he falls into politics. He begins to see that he might be able to fight vampires with words. Vampires have used slaves as a feeding source for centuries, and with his Emancipation Proclamation he can change all that.
Lincoln’s life, historically, was full of tragedy and it was ripe for a vampire sub-plot. Many historically accurate facts were embedded in the tale. Believe it or not, Seth did research before writing this book. In real life, Abraham did marry Mary Todd and became a lawyer and later president. His parents died when he was young. After a trip to New Orleans (one of the best action scenes in this movie), he commits his life to trying to end slavery. He was actually a master axeman after working on rail fences. Look at this guy, he could definitely take Buffy on any day.
I was trepidacious when it hit the big screen. Would it hold up? I sat through 105 minutes of awesomeness in 3D. If you only see one 3D movie this year, this one is it. It was actually shot in 3D, so the entire movie envelopes you, from furniture in the room to blood splatters extending beyond the screen. He even finds a great use for his tall hat.
The slow motion “bullet time” made famous by the Matrix trilogy did not get tired during countless action scenes. “Bullet time” is defined as the extreme slowing of space and time to show something ordinarily unfilmable. I was thrilled each time there was an ax, bullet, knife, or some other action debris coming at my face. I even jumped a few times when the vampires appeared out of thin air. The scene with the horse chase was one of the few overly CGI moments, but full of laughs too. This movie is not something to be taken seriously. It is just a fun action/horror film that features President Lincoln’s life. How can people tear this film apart but then go see The Expendables 2?
Unfortunately, Quirk has lost me with Meowomorphosis and on behalf of all the non-crazy cat ladies of the world, I hope this one stays in the trunk of some movie producer’s car forever (I wonder how all these classic authors would feel about their works being redone?)