[Marxism] Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
lnp3 at panix.com
Mon May 20 12:41:01 MDT 2013
While this does not quite merit a review, I found it much more
interesting and much more of a blow against the Slavocracy than "Django"
and "Lincoln" put together. I saw it on HBO last night and it is also
available from Netflix.
It got 65% rotten on Rotten Tomatoes, a function no doubt of director
Timur Bekmambetov not being on Hollywood's A-List's. It did have Tim
Burton's imprimatur as producer but I doubt that this made up for Timur
Bekmambetov's brazen bad taste.
Here's a review I am sympathetic to. The only thing it lacks is a clear
statement that the vampires were the shock troops of the South, a
perfect metaphor for the chattel slavery system:
Friday, Jun 22, 2012 10:00 AM EDT
A great killer Lincoln
Dazzling design and awesome action scenes can't conceal the joyous
idiocy of "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter"
By Andrew O'Hehir
If your problem with Quentin Tarantino’s alternate-history World War II
action flick “Inglourious Basterds” was that it lacked enough high
concept, then “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” is for you. There’s
definitely some empty-calories, summer-movie fun to be found in this
ludicrous genre mashup, most of it courtesy of maniacal Russian director
Timur Bekmambetov, who stages hilarious, imaginative, almost free-form
action sequences like nobody in the business. There’s a scene in this
movie that involves an ax fight between the young Mr. Lincoln and a
slave-trading vampire mastermind, set amid a stampeding herd of horses,
who are alternately used as conveyances, obstacles and weapons. In its
own idiotic and limited way, it’s a work of genius, and you could almost
say that about the movie as a whole.
Bekmambetov marshals a first-rate production design team for this screen
adaptation of Seth Grahame-Smith’s bestseller (scripted by the author),
and the opening shot of this movie is spectacular: We see the
contemporary skyline of Washington, and then watch as all the modern
buildings and infrastructure gradually melt away, taking us back to the
marshy city of our 16th president, with the White House surrounded by
open fields and stone row-houses, and the Washington Monument only half
completed. Lincoln’s young life in the Indiana wilderness and the
frontier capital of Springfield, Ill., is also captured in impressive
detail. One can only wish that the story and characters seemed either
a.) halfway convincing in the context of 19th-century America, or b.)
worth the time and effort it takes to watch it, let alone the immense
expense and hard work of making it.
In Grahame-Smith’s earlier hit novel, “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”
(which has also been rendered into a film, to appear later this year),
he simply interpolated new material and themes — presumably never
contemplated by Jane Austen — into a public-domain literary work.
There’s some of that in the book “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,” but
the whole thing is way more elaborate, involving a secret Lincoln
journal (entirely fictional, with a few tidbits from his known works)
and a reworking of Civil War history in which the slave-owning caste of
the antebellum South becomes a secret conspiracy of undead bloodsuckers.
That’s sort of halfway clever, as long as you don’t think about it too
much, but in the movie version Bekmambetov and Grahame-Smith have
jettisoned the elaborate back story and modern-day framing device in
favor of nonstop splatter and silliness, which exposes how thin this
idea really is.
Looking for all the world like a digitally engineered younger version of
Liam Neeson, Benjamin Walker gives a curiously leaden performance as the
ax-wielding hero Lincoln, although he’s ably supported by snaky-looking
English actor Dominic Cooper, as a repentant vampire who has turned
against his own kind. (Has anyone written a doctoral dissertation about
that archetype yet?) But it’s not Bekmambetov’s splendiferous and
camped-up action scenes, culminating in a vampires-on-a-train climax
that would dazzle Sam Peckinpah, that are the problem here. It’s the
fact that adding a bunch of jokey, gory vampire battles to the most
violent and dramatic period of American history is not merely gilding
the lily, but is an atrocious insult to the memory of those who lived
and died then, and to the historical resonance of those events, which
emphatically continues to this day.
It’s actually not OK, in this case, to say smirkingly that history is
boring and would be way cooler if it had more sexy vampire chicks and
stuff blowing up. The struggle against slavery — a practice that had
poisoned our country, root and branch, from its inception — and the
worst war in American history and the life and death of our greatest and
weirdest president have enough action and suspense for 20 movies. Sure,
this movie is meant as camp from beginning to end, and isn’t trying to
replace real history. (One of its last lines of dialogue is: “Abraham!
Hurry up or we’ll miss the play!”) Which ought to mean that I’ll forget
how much it pissed me off really quickly, and only remember the
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