Monday, July 2, 2012

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter... is not Liam Neeson

Benjamin Walker, star of "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter," looks a hell of a lot like Liam Neeson. Almost so much that it's distracting. This assertion turns out to be one of the things my wife and I agreed upon after exiting the theater.

I thought the aging make-up used on Walker was great. She didn't. And that's OK. I still love her. I consider it a triumph of epic proportions that she went with me. She digs vampire movies and that is awesome.

We did agree that some of the CGI and 3-D effects made the film a bit cartoony at some moments. There is a a chase through a stampeding herd of horses that is particularly "Tom & Jerry," especially when one sees the frightened face of an individual horse. What did work, as far as 3-D goes, were moments when things were going into the screen as opposed to just coming out. Nice touch. The design of the vampires was also well-done. Very reminiscent of the vampires in the comic book "American Vampire," which seems appropriate.

Walker, as Lincoln, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead (2011's "The Thing") lacked the chemistry one would have hoped for. I missed the desperation in Lincoln and the strong but frightened aspect of Mary that I got from the book.

Speaking of the book, novelist/screenwriter Seth Grahame-Smith must have had a hell of a time deciding what to cut. Gone are the modern narrator (good choice) and Lincoln's meetings with Edgar Allan Poe (sad). But as I often say, books and movies are different media and should be considered as such.

The action set-pieces are remarkable (but often with that hint of cartoonish unreality) but often at the expense of character development. In other words, "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" feels like it should have been a summer blockbuster. So far, not enough of you people have gone out to see it. I know, 3-D costs extra and you are saving your pennies for "The Dark Knight Rises," but a summer horror movie is such a rare treat that I think we owe it to the genre to at least pay for a matinee.

THREAT LEVEL: YELLOW. The major reason to rush out to see it is that it might be out of theaters soon if you don't.

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