Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012)

However History Remembers Me Before I Was a President, It Shall Only Remember a Fraction of the Truth…

Today’s movie had only ever gotten so far as to pique my interest.  It seemed like a novel concept, but the movie itself never really seemed like it’d be much more than that.  Still, I had my mind set on seeing the movie, and thought often of catching a show when I was at the theaters, but something better was always a higher priority.  Eventually, the movie had left the mainstream theaters and I figured I would have to just wait for it to be on DVD to check it out.  But recently I was realizing that I haven’t made it to a theater for a little while, so I decided to see what was playing.  Nothing at the mainstream theaters, but this movie had just arrived at the dollar cinema.  I’d always entertained the idea of seeing a movie at a dollar cinema, and decided this was as good a time as any.  And that’s how I came to watch Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, based on a novel by Seth Grahame-Smith, directed by Timur Bekmambetov, and starring Benjamin Walker, Dominic Cooper, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Rufus Sewell, Anthony Mackie, Marton Csokas, Jimmi Simpson, Erin Wasson, and Alan Tudyk.

Before we talk about the movie proper, I think we need to talk about the cinema-going experience.  I should have been able to predict while going to this theater that it would be of a slightly lower quality than a full price theater, but I didn’t quite expect it to be really small and not visible from the main road because it was stationed behind a Dunkin Donuts.  That I can deal with.  What I cannot deal with is the lower quality of people that would typically be found in this theater, namely the six tweens that were seated a row behind me.  What kind of piece of shit feels the need to talk all the way through a movie at full volume and often saying nothing more interesting than verbalizing what’s on the screen?  I’ve been known to talk in a movie, but I also typically try to only say funny things a la Mystery Science Theater, I always speak in whisper, and I generally assume that the people around me can see what’s on the screen.  People don’t need the narration, “OH!  He’s all old now!”  We understand how prosthetics work.  Would it really have been that bad of a thing for me to go over to the tweens and threaten to beat them within an inch of their lives?  Or if I had actually done it?  Or if I then tried to fit their mangled bodies in the trash cans they bring in to clean the theater?  Perhaps I’ve said too much …  Anyways, back to the movie!

As a young man, Abraham Lincoln (Benjamin Walker) witnesses a plantation owner, and vampire, named Jack Barts (Marton Csokas) bite his mother, killing her.  Nine years later, Lincoln is still focused on getting his revenge on his mother’s murderer, but he underestimates the vampire and gets his ass kicked, until being saved by Henry Sturgess (Dominic Cooper).  He convinces Sturgess to train him to be a vampire hunter before being sent to Springfield, Illinois, where Sturgess will send him to kill vampires around the town.  He takes a job with Joshua Speed (Jimmi Simpson) and falls in love with Mary Todd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), both of which go against Sturgess’ orders to not get close to anyone that can be used against him by the vampires.  He also gets reunited with his black childhood friend, William Johnson (Anthony Mackie) who tells Lincoln of a vampire named Adam (Rufus Sewell) who owns a plantation in New Orleans with his sister, Vadoma (Erin Wasson), and frequently use slaves as food, since they don’t count as people and no one will care.  Lincoln then sets his aims on becoming the President of the United States so that he can abolish slavery and stop the vampires at their food source.

This movie didn’t work for me.  I’m not entirely sure if the movie was entirely to blame or the horrible cinema conditions, but I can’t say I was too fond of it.  I give the movie credit for being creative, but it lacks surprise and isn’t very deep.  I don’t think the creativity of the movie begs much for explanation; deciding to write a whole story about one of our presidents as a killer of vampires is not an easy thing to jump to.  It seems like something that someone said as a joke while completely high and later decided to turn into a movie.  But you still have to make the movie interesting, and I didn’t find that much of it all that compelling.  I allow for the possibility that the narrating retards sitting an aisle back may have been a constant and annoying distraction, and my brain spent a bulk of the time thinking about how satisfying it would be to punch them in their faces, but the lack of surprises in the movie is obvious.  That’s probably mainly due to the fact that you pretty much already know exactly how this story will go, so long as you stayed awake through American History class in high school.  Just take the story of Abraham Lincoln’s life and add vampires as his motivations.  That’ll about cover the story.  I also found the dialogue unimpressive in most parts of the story, which was particularly noticeable coming out of the mouth of the guy that gave one of the most memorable speeches in history.  Another thing that occurred to me in this movie is one of the staples of vampire lore, but why is the oldest vampire always the most powerful?  I understand them having experienced the most stuff and thusly possibly being the most intelligent, but shouldn’t age either have detrimental effects on them like it does on us, or at least have no effect on them because they don’t age?  They all come from the same blood, after all.

I had some issues with the look and the action of the movie too, but some of it made me question whether or not it was also tied to the shitty cinema.  Were some of the graphics in the movie sub-par, or were they being projected poorly?  In most instances, I blame the movie.  I first started noticing it in the scene where Lincoln was fighting a vampire in a stampede of horses.  I got the distinct feeling that they chose this location and cause the horses to kick up so much dust to hide the fact that the horses were kind of goofy looking and unconvincing.  It didn’t really work.  They did a similar thing later when they were fighting on top of a train and the smoke plume was obscuring the vision in the scene.  But I can forgive subpar graphics.  What actually hurts the movie is that the action just isn’t that interesting.  I don’t think I ever really had a drive to see Abraham Lincoln fight vampires with an axe, and I certainly would care less if he couldn’t even hold onto that axe very long.  Some of the action scenes were interesting enough, but it didn’t really impress.  I thought the gun that Lincoln had in the bottom of his axe was an interesting idea, and I didn’t really see it coming, but I never got a lot more than that.

The performances in the movie were fine, but I literally have next to nothing to say about them.  I was excited to see both Alan Tudyk and Mary Elizabeth Winstead in this movie.  …That’s literally everything I have.

Basically, I would say that Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter started with a cool and creative idea, but never evolved past the idea.  The story was an interesting idea, but filled with dialogue that lacked a quality anywhere near the likes of the person they based their movie on.  The graphics were not fantastic and it often seemed like they were trying to obscure it with particulates, but the action was decent enough, though not impressive.  And the performances were okay.  Add that all up and I’d say you’d be okay skipping this movie.  It was probably worth the dollar I paid to see it, but not worth the annoyance of the people in the theater.  It was enough to make me want to shoot them and jump up on stage yelling, “Sic semper tyrannis!”  Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter gets “History prefers legends to men” out of “There is darkness EVERYWHERE!”

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Aeon Flux (2005)

I do have some movies from both RedBox and Netflix to review for you guys, but I decided to go with a movie from my collection because a nap went long and I needed a short movie.  The one I chose?  Aeon Flux, starring Charlize Theron, Marton Csokas, and Sophie Okonedo (who I remember as the horny chiefs daughter from Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls).  Why did I choose this movie?  I have no howling idea.

Aeon Flux is a movie made about from a strangely popular cartoon that I think I used to watch on MTV back in the day.  And the movie seems to have captured the essence of that cartoon because, just like with the cartoon, it’s very stylized, very confusing, and I’m always waiting to see boobs but inevitably going to get disappointed.  From what little information I was able to gleam from the movie, here’s my best attempt at the plot.  Aeon Flux (Theron) is a top assassin for a group of anarchists trying to bring down a corrupt government.  She is also really hot.  She first needs to take out their surveillance and, while doing so, she finds that the government has ordered the murder of her sister because they overheard the two of them talking about the mission.  Why they didn’t instead stop Aeon from completing the mission and instead choose to piss off the top assassin by killing her sister, your guess is as good as mine.  So her next mission is to give her an opportunity for revenge.  She is to kill the head of the government, Trevor Goodchild (Csokas), because he is, in fact, a very badchild.  She gets through the strange security system (of coconuts that shoot darts and razor blade grass) along with her monkey-footed companion, Sithandra (Okonedo).  Sithandra has had hands put on in place of her feet, much like a monkey, which to me seems like a bit of a racist thing for someone to do with a black actress.  Aeon reaches Goodchild and finds that she can’t kill him.  She’s captured, she escapes, then she meets up with and sexes up Goodchild because it turns out she’s a clone of his wife, and in fact everyone in this world is cloned because they can’t have babies anymore.  And then Oren Verybadchild, Goodchild’s brother, is apparently trying to keep it that way by killing anyone who can have a baby so he can be the big boss man.  Then Aeon has to stop it.

Aeon Flux is a fairly pretty movie to look at.  Beyond the obvious “Charlize Theron in skimpy and/or skin tight clothes”, the setting and costumes are stylish and often colorful.  The story itself, when you can understand it, is typical and predictable, but not necessarily bad.  The action is okay, no real complaints but far from mind-blowing.  It’s mainly a lot of Charlize Theron wrapping her legs around people’s heads and then breaking their necks, which I have always maintained is EXACTLY the way I want to go.  And … uh … let’s see, other good things … okay, that’s all I had.

My first question, which is a take away from the old cartoon, even if you were such a badass that you could catch a fly with your eyelash, would you ever want to?  No thank you, Aeon.  Now, being really quiet and robotic is the kind of performance this movie calls for, but I would certainly recommend doing it in a way that is still interesting.  I can’t presently think of anyone who has pulled off turning a wooden performance interesting, but I’m sure it’s possible.  …Hugo Weaving!  That’s one.  When he was the agent in the Matrix, and to a lesser extent Elrond in Lord of the Rings, it was a quiet, emotionless performance (not because of Weaving, but because that’s what the part called for) and yet he was interesting.  Perhaps you just can’t make the lead the emotionless one.  And this was the next big movie for Theron since winning the Oscar for Monster.  So either she wanted a rest from all that acting in Monster so she could take it easy with Aeon, or she just wanted to show people “Look, I’m hot again”.  I’ve already said that the story is confusing and the action is meh at best, so I won’t harp on that further.  I’m not sure what I went into this movie thinking I was in store for.  I vaguely remember the MTV cartoon, but I never understood it and I’m pretty sure all I was watching it for was because it always seemed like there was some howling about to happen, if you know what I’m saying.  I’m sure there’s a lot of people more nerdy than I that loved the cartoon, but it wasn’t for me.  Neither was it’s significantly worse movie.

Aeon Flux: Go ahead and skip it, unless you just need noise in the background and just want to look over at some hot Charlize every now and then.  But I’d say get Hancock for that.  It’s much better.  …out of 822.  That’s how many words I had typed!