Critics says Benjamin Walker brings ‘backbone’ to an otherwise ‘fake and cartoony’ retelling of the Civil War.
By Kevin P. Sullivan
Erin Wasson and Benjamin Walker in “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter”
“Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” reimagines the Civil War as a struggle between the living and the undead with our 16th president as a slayer of the bloodsuckers. It sounds like a fun premise, but critics certainly wish the filmmakers had stuck to the history books.
Here is our roundup of what the critics are saying about “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.”
“The story opens with young Abe witnessing the murder of his mother by a vampire. He swears vengeance, and some years later is lucky to be getting drunk while standing at a bar next to Henry Sturgess (Dominic Cooper), who coaches him on vampire-killing and explains that it is a high calling, requiring great dedication and avoiding distractions like marriage. Against Henry’s advice, Lincoln (Benjamin Walker) marries Mary Todd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), and the story moves quickly to his days in the White House, where he discovers that the vampires are fighting on the side of the South.” — Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
“He lucked out big time nabbing Benjamin Walker to play Lincoln from 8 to 80 (not exactly, but you get my point). Walker, 30, was a dick-swinging smash on Broadway in the 2010 musical ‘Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson,’ playing Old Hickory as a genocidal horror in sexy pants. Walker brings backbone and flashes of humor to the guy on the five-dollar bill.” — Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
“To stand a chance of pulling this off on film, you need wit and a deft touch, and, boy, is Timur Bekmambetov the wrong man for the job. (Tim Burton, who produced, would have been the better choice.) The director came out of Russia some years back with a pair of showy fantasy thrillers, ‘Night Watch’ and ‘Day Watch,’ and has since made the Angelina Jolie shoot-em-up ‘Wanted.’ Bekmambetov’s filmmaking style manages to be both frantic and ponderous, and he has the humor of a nightclub bouncer.” — Ty Burr, The Boston Globe
“Adapting his own richly embroidered novel, which is a lot more fun than the movie, Seth Grahame-Smith (who also wrote ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’) strips his book for parts and ditches the most interesting cockamamie detail and context.” — Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune
The Final Word
“Unfortunately, director Timur Bekmambetov and writer Seth Grahame-Smith, adapting his own best-selling novel, take this concept entirely too seriously. What ideally might have been playful and knowing is instead uptight and dreary, with a visual scheme that’s so fake and cartoony, it depletes the film of any sense of danger.” — Christy Lemire, The Associated Press
Check out everything we’ve got on “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.“
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