Russell Baillie writes about movies for the Herald

Movie review: Abraham Lincoln, Vampire hunter

Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter.
Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter.

What's it with Tim Burton and Abraham Lincoln? In his daft version of Planet of the Apes he closed with the Lincoln Memorial redone as a presidential primate.

Here, he's the producer of a film about Abe as vigilante axeman taking on Confederate vampires - ones having no problem with sunlight - intent of making slaves, and/or snacks, of everyone.

Yes, it might give a new meaning to "redneck". But other than a few action scenes heavy on digital dazzle - Russian director Bekmambetov offering up some of the quick-quick-slow tricks that impressed in his Night Watch and Day Watch supernatural flicks and Hollywood action debut Wanted - it doesn't generate as much outlandish fun as a movie with that title really should.

Why so serious? Well, maybe it's the lumpy plod of a screenplay of Seth Grahame-Smith adapting his own mash-up novel (his Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is also shuffling cinema-wards) which feels the frequent need to remind that when he wasn't dispensing the undead, the 16th president was an earnest guy with a way with words.

Then again, maybe it's the lack of any distinct vampire nemesis, with the likes of our own Marton Csokas, Rufus Sewell and others crowding each other out with characters who might be evil and ravenous but who would get eaten alive most nights on True Blood.

Or maybe it's Benjamin Walker as Abe, who in his younger years resembles a young Liam Neeson before suddenly turning into the guy on the US five dollar bill.

He swings a mean silver-bladed axe, care of Bekmambetov's box of tricks, but otherwise he's just not much chop. It's a performance from the Madame Tussaud's School of Acting. He's the dull centre of film doing a halloween spin on hallowed history which should be good for a giggle or two. But for a movie so full of teeth, it doesn't offer much for one's own laughing gear.

Stars: 2/5
Cast: Benjamin Walker, Dominic Cooper, Rufus Sewell,
Director: Timur Bekmambetov
Rating: R16 (horror scenes and violence)
Running time: 105mins
Verdict: Lacks bite.


- NZ Herald

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