No, I didn’t read the book. I know, shame on me. How else can I make the standard exclamation of “the book was better!” if I haven’t actually read it? Who really cares, though? I think this is the sort of thing that should have gone direct to screenplay anyhow. It is the sort of B-movie concept that I feel can’t truly be captured and exploited as literature. But then again, I could be wrong. Because I didn’t read the book. On the plus side, it does allow me to have a completely unbiased review of the film. That’s a good thing, I think.
The film is everything you think it is. As ridiculous as you may think it is in your mind, it is every bit of that and more. There is no subtlety to this movie in the slightest. Everything is hammered home in loud bombast and with the firmest tongue-in-cheek attitude. The only reason this film is able to function as well as it does is because it plays everything 100% straight. There is no *wink wink* to be had here. By doing so, the film becomes incredibly fun. Abraham Lincoln:Vampire Hunter is melodramatic and dumb in ways that most people would struggle to fathom. This is a film in which a vampire throws a CGI horse at the titular character in the midst of a stampede. He literally grabs the horse by the hooves and chucks it at the man who freed the slaves. Reading that line should tell you everything you need to know about the tone of this movie. Whatever manner of true sincerity this film may ever hope to put on screen is trampled underfoot by scenes of horses being thrown at the president of the United States or someone power-sliding a horse drawn carriage into the manor of a slave plantation. In short, this film has the same depth of vision as a child playing with action figures in a sandbox.
Don’t think I’m slamming the movie though. This movie is my kind of stupid. The fact is that everyone involved sells the premise so hard that you can’t help but enjoy it. Benjamin Walker is an excellent Abraham Lincoln. I suspect he may have gotten the part because he looks so much like Liam Neeson, who was the frontrunner to play the president in Spielberg’s take before Daniel Day Lewis took over. Jimmi Simpson, Dominic Cooper, Anthony Mackie, Marie Elizabeth Winstead, and Alan motherf##king Tudyk as Stephen Douglas all round out the cast and do a superb job of selling the insanity. I suspect that Cooper is going to break out as a big star pretty damned soon. If I’d had my druthers Mary Elizabeth Winstead would be a leading lady ten times over. She’s beautiful, confident, and even in a film like this she manages to sell us on her character with very little material to work with.
I know there are going to be many people who trash this movie, some without even seeing it. Yes some of the action scenes are overly muddled by the CGI as well as the editing. Yes you may feel a little guilty for how this film treats the subject of slavery. The fact of the matter is that this is not a great film, but as a pure piece of popcorn entertainment you really can’t ask for more. The difference between this film and many like it is this film’s ability to sell its own ludicrous nature. While the film is played completely straight you can tell the intent was for the audience to walk out with a smile on their face asking themselves what they just saw. This film does exactly that. Let’s just hope the producers don’t get too bold and try to hoist a sequel on us. That my friends, would be going too far.
So, I know this really doesn’t fit with the content of the site on a whole, but I have to say that given the opportunity, I would lick the pillow that Tina Fey drooled onto after falling into a food induced coma. I have had a mad geek-crush on that woman since before most people knew who the hell I was talking about. I thought she was hot back when she was on SNL and nobody knew who she was because nobody was watching SNL. I sat through Mean Girls because of Tina Fey. Yes, I am that pathetic. But at least I admit it. That mitigates the overwhelming sadness. It’s like when a chess-playing robot becomes self-aware and strangles it’s programmer.
But with that little intro out of the way I can move onto the movie and say that my love of Tina Fey is probably the only reason I liked the movie at all. Its really kind of middle of the road, only elevated by Fey’s charm and Steve Carrell’s commitment to being Steve Carrell for an hour and a half on screen. The jokes are not that great, but seeing them delivered by two of the best actors on TV at the moment elevates them from mediocre to a level just below great. The cameos by James Franco, Mark Wahlberg, Ray Liotta, and others are welcome and its obvious they took the job just to enjoy themselves for a few weeks and not have to do any real heavy lifting, as their occupying the roles pretty much gets the laughs on concept.
All in all, this movie did nothing to hinder my creepy affections for Tina Fey, and there are far worse ways to waste a few hours.