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Film Review: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter


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Some things just go together: strawberries and cream, films and popcorn, students and alcohol, 3D and headaches. And then there are American presidents and the undead.

The recent craze for all things vampire has produced the Twilight films to True Blood and The Vampire Diaries and there certainly hasn't been a shortage of material for fans of the living dead to sink their teeth into (sorry).

The latest film from the director of Wanted, Timur Bekmambetov, sees the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, take on an army of vampires who threaten to overrun the country and destroy all that is good in the world. Not your typical historical film, then.

Let's make no mistake - Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is stupendously silly. In fact, it's the daftest thing since Russia wheeled out its latest Eurovision entry from the local retirement village.

Let's begin with this plot which is, quite frankly, a mess. At 105 minutes, the film doesn't totally fall apart but the plot is as weak as a marshmallow bridge. Lincoln, played by Benjamin Walker, wandered from set piece to set piece, fighting vampires with his trusty silver-edged axe and then, suddenly, he was President of the United States. I understand that this film isn't a political drama but a clear plot line would have made the world of difference to the action.

There was no through line in the narrative and no attempt by the screenwriter, Seth Grahame-Smith, to create a coherent plot and the film seemed to favour style over substance. Now, this style was rather distinctive and, with Tim Burton on board as a producer, you would expect in to be. The film has visual punch; whether it was Lincoln running around striking down vampires or the sweeping shots of Washington in the nineteenth century, the film certainly looks the part. The direction from Bekmambetov is energetic and works best during the action sequences which were quite violent but appropriate for the film's tone. Although predictable, there were one or two jump scares which kept the audience on their toes and the supporting cast headed by Dominic West and Rufus Sewell gave dynamic performances.

From a plot perspective, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is a mess and nearly falls apart, and is only held together by engrossing action sequences. Nevertheless, it's quite good fun and is worth a watch – just take its history with a pinch (or a bucket full) of salt...

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