Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

by Pa Rock
Citizen Film Critic

Sunday evening I decided to take in a movie, and I had a big assortment from which to choose.  My ultimate selection was the very clever, and very well done - Abraham Lincoln:  Vampire Hunter.

The movie has been out for several weeks, so I was not surprised when only eleven people, myself include, showed up in the small auditorium (capacity: 111) at the local multi-plex.  The few who were there were focused on the movie, and not on texting or chatter - so it was a  pleasant setting in which to enjoy the movie.

Abraham Lincoln:  Vampire Hunter  is a fantastical account of the impact that vampires had on the life of President Lincoln and his struggle to lead America safely through it's greatest crisis, the Civil War.  The story begins when nine-year-old Abe witnesses a man walk into his family's cabin late at night and bite his mother, Nnncy Hanks Lincoln, who then dies the following day.  Although young Abe isn't clear on why the man bit his mother or how that killed her, he understands that the man is somehow responsible for the death of his mother.

Lincoln, as a young adult, comes across the man who killed his mother and decides it is time to take his revenge.  He fights the man who proves to be strangely powerful, and finally shoots the man in the eye - but even that fails to kill the killer.   Later that day Lincoln meets a fellow named Henry Sturges who informs the country lad that he had been fighting a vampire.  He also tells Abe that he is a vampire hunter and can teach the young man how to kill vampires - if, and only if, he will just kill certain vampires.

Lincoln agrees to those terms, though he still is focused on killing the specific vampire who killed his mother. Henry teaches the young rail-splitter how to fight with an ax, and he coats Lincoln's ax blade with silver to make it especially deadly to vampires.

Lincoln and Henry remain friends over the years as Lincoln works his way through being a shopkeeper, a lawyer, a state politician, and ultimately President.  And through those years Lincoln continues to battle vampires, and they continue to be the bane of his existence.

As the great war consumes the nation, a vampire kills Lincoln's young son, Willie, as he plays with his toy soldiers in the White House.  The grieving President soon learns that vampires have allied themselves with the Confederate government and are fighting with the rebels on the battlefields of the Civil War where they are immune from regular lead bullets.  Together Lincoln and Henry come up with a plan to equip the Union forces with silver bullets and silver cannon balls in order to win the Battle of Gettysburg and ultimately save the Union.

Okay, it sounds really far out there.  A good friend, knowing the limits of my simple mind, cautioned me that the vampire part was fiction - and she's probably right.  But it was a really good story, and if vampires do exist, well, then the whole tale is plausible.

But whether the tale is true or not, it is highly entertaining and even educational at a certain level.  There are two big action scenes unlike any that I have seen in movies before.  One is a gun fight and a physical fight between Lincoln and a vampire that takes place in the middle of a wild horse stampede.  It includes the combatants running among the stampeding horses, jumping on and off of the horses, and even standing on horseback and jumping from horse to horse during the fight.

The second great action scene has Lincoln and his friends fighting vampires on a train that is racing across a long burning trestle bridge.  Will the vampires kill the good guys?   Will the train fall through the flames and into the abyss?   Will Lincoln save the day at Gettysburg and rid America of the bloodsucking vampires?  Get thee to a movie theatre and find out!

One other thing that I really enjoyed about this film was the beautiful photography and the scenes of Washington DC as it appeared in Lincoln's day.  It does an excellent job of taking viewers back in time.

There is a scene near the end of the movie where Mary Todd Lincoln is standing by her carriage on a gravel circular drive in front of the White House.  Lincoln and Henry Sturges walk out onto a balcony overlooking where she is at, and Mary calls to her husband to hurry or else they will be late for the play.  A young man sitting a few seats down from me was so engrossed in the movie, that when Mary brought up the play, he said loudly, "Oh, no!"

Yes, it is fantasy overlaying history - but it "sucks" the viewers into a place that feels very real.  This movie is exciting, fun, and even a bit educational.    For me, it was an evening well spent - and I would definitely sit through it again.

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