I am actually finding it hard on how to begin the review. Firstly, I haven't read the book the film is based on so you can expect no comparisons. It's also pertinent to know that I have enjoyed Timur Bekmambetov's previous works, Wanted & Night Watch, so although I was not at all impressed by the trailer of this film, I was still excited about it.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is the story about the President of USA who for the sake of fantasy and story and originality also happens to be a vampire hunter, or rather becomes one during the course of the film when his parents are killed by the living dead.
The film in totality was a major disappointment and for a change I decided to list my irritations one point at a time;
The Voiceover - Normally I am a big fan of voiceovers. It's a great way to fast forward a film and more so a technique to showcase a montage without using music, and who doesn't love montages. Unfortunately, the excessive voiceover in this particular film gets annoying around half time and doesn't stop till quite late in the film.
The Story - I am all for a bit of uniqueness in stories and by giving the real life events surrounding the American president an alternate twist is perfectly fine by me. The film however tries to stuff too much in its timeframe. From a revenge film, to saving mankind, to a political piece, to life history, almost all aspects of the real Lincoln's life is made to resemble situations in the film making it more and more disjointed.
Real vs Reel Life & The History - The other aspect of the story mentioned above which really irritated me was that the makers try desperately to link all the real life events with the fantasy aspect which after a while feels forced. Furthermore, due to the lack of America's historical knowledge I was unaware of most of these events and just had to view them as they happened. So while I am aware of the Civil War or the Gettysburg Battle, I had no knowledge about their background, and I understand this might be my own fault, but for me that made the film a bit more oblique. If you do know about American history, I am sure you would appreciate that the film does not go into details of the said events, so this aspect might just divide the audience in half.
The Special Effects - This one is more middle-of-the-road. There are scenes that are beautiful to look at, even though they mostly comprise of people getting axed and blood splattering all over, while there are others that are simply torture. Two important scenes, the horse fight and the climax, are both CGI laden to the amount that they shout FAKE! Both these scenes, the former more so than the latter, were probably the biggest disappointments for me. Well that and the excessive use of slow motion throughout the entire film to the point that I almost wished I had a fast forward remote control to move the character move/kill/splatter/and die faster.
Tim Burton - I would have hoped that having Tim Burton as the producer would have infused a bit of his dark humor in the film, but alas that is not the case. In fact, his style is so absent that had I not known of him having producer credits; I would not have linked him to this film at all.
And now for the good stuff...
I did like the premise of the story with adding the whole vampire element to the president's life. With Pride and Prejudice and Zombies being made, this could be the new trend in books and films and not something that I disapprove of. What the resulting features will be, it’s hard to tell, but after Abraham Lincoln studios might think twice about taking a step in this direction.
The acting was mediocre, but not bad, which in this case is good. The performances might not have been extraordinary, but the actors took their roles seriously and whatever little chance of characterization they are given (especially the supporting cast), they made the most of it.
The films does have enough action throughout that although there were all the above listed reasons why I did not enjoy the film, it still managed to keep me awake.
Oh wait... sorry that would be the large Latte I had during the film that kept me awake and I believe it even burnt my tongue and in fact that was probably more exciting than the film.