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New Release Review - Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Directed by: Timur Bekmambetov
Starring: Benjamin Walker, Rufus Sewell, Dominic Cooper, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Anthony Mackie, Erin Wasson, Jimmi Simpson

America's most famous president is re-imagined as a hunter of blood-suckers.
Like it's undead antagonists, "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" is soulless, a movie made purely for cynical marketing purposes. Vampires are huge right now and Lincoln is a name everyone recognises. Put them together and everyone's a winner, right? Well the audience certainly isn't and Spielberg may even lose out if this garbage has a negative effect on his upcoming Lincoln biopic.
With a title like this there's really only two paths to success. You could make a Hammer style gothic horror along the lines of "Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter" but that would require some talent so that's out of the question. Or you could make it a tongue in cheek romp, the sort of thing Bruce Campbell might star in, but that wouldn't make enough money so that's a non-starter. Instead the film-makers have opted to cross John Carpenter's "Vampires" with Guy Ritchie's "Sherlock Holmes", and yes, it's every bit as ghastly as that coupling suggests.
We live in an era of cultural hijacking. Guy Ritchie gave us a Holmes which resembles the original character in name only. Here, the same is true of Lincoln. I'm well aware he wasn't ever really a vampire hunter but this doesn't even attempt to tie into his actual life, it's just the use of a name for the sake of recognition. The vampires aren't even really vampires, at least not in the traditional sense. They stroll around in daylight without a care in the world. Again it's a case of mythos as brand recognition. I don't live in the American South but if I did I suspect I'd find some of the film's re-writing of history pretty offensive too.
Bekmambetov is one of the worst directors working today, the quintessential Euro-hack. Like Guy Ritchie, he seems stuck in a timewarp where it's 1999 and "The Matrix" just changed his world. His lack of geography is unforgivable for a mainstream film-maker and his action choreography relies on out-dated slo-mo techniques. In the movie's two action set-pieces he adds in dust and smoke just to ensure we can't see a damn thing.
Add 3D to his palette and you're really asking for trouble. I've only seen two directors make 3D remotely watchable and Bekmambetov is certainly not in the same league as Scorsese and Cameron. There's a shot in this of a tree falling. It falls sideways rather than toward us. I have to wear these damn glasses and he's not even going to exploit the gimmick? Did he forget he was making a 3D movie or was it post-converted without his knowledge?
If the idea of a quasi-western set in an America infested with vampires intrigues you then go watch last year's "Stakeland" instead. It was made for less than the catering budget of this turkey and is actually directed by someone who knows how to tell a story.
2/10