Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012)
In 1818, Abraham Lincoln (Benjamin Walker) lives in Indiana with his parents, Nancy (Robin McLeavy) and Thomas (Joseph Mawle), who works at a plantation owned by Jack Barts (Marton Csokas). There, Lincoln befriends a young African American boy, William Johnson (Anthony Mackie), and intervenes when he sees Johnson being beaten by a slaver. Because of his son's actions, Thomas is fired. That night, Lincoln sees Barts break into his house and attack Nancy. She falls ill the following day, and dies shortly afterwards. Thomas tells Lincoln that Barts poisoned Nancy.
Nine years later, Lincoln decides to get revenge against Barts. He attacks Barts at the docks, but Barts, who is actually a vampire, overpowers him. However, before Barts can kill him, Lincoln is rescued by Henry Sturgess (Dominic Cooper). Sturgess explains that vampires exist, and offers to teach Lincoln to be a vampire hunter. Lincoln accepts and, after a decade of training, travels to Springfield, Illinois. During his training, Sturgess tells Lincoln that the vampires in America descend from Adam (Rufus Sewell), a vampire who owns a plantation in New Orleans with his sister, Vadoma (Erin Wasson). Sturgess also tells Lincoln of the vampires' weakness, silver, and presents him with a silver pocket watch.
In Springfield, Lincoln befriends shopkeeper Joshua Speed (Jimmi Simpson), and meets Mary Todd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). Though Sturgess warned him not to form any close relationships, Lincoln develops romantic feelings for Mary. Lincoln successfully finds and defeats Barts. Before dying, Barts reveals that Sturgess is also a vampire. Lincoln confronts Sturgess, who reveals that, several years ago, he was attacked and bitten by Adam. Because Sturgess' soul was impure, he became a vampire, and that prevented him from harming Adam or any other vampire (since "Only the living can kill the dead"). Sturgess has since been training vampire hunters, hoping to destroy Adam.
Disappointed, Lincoln decides to abandon his mission. However, Adam learns of his activities and kidnaps Johnson to lure Lincoln into a trap at his plantation. Adam captures Lincoln and tries to recruit him, revealing his plans to turn the United States into a nation of the undead. Speed rescues his friends, and
they escape to Ohio.
Lincoln marries Mary and begins his political career, campaigning to abolish slavery. Sturgess warns Lincoln that the slave trade keeps vampires under control, as vampires use slaves for food, and if Lincoln interferes, the vampires will retaliate. After Lincoln's election as President of the United States of America, he moves to the White House with Mary, where they have a son, William Wallace Lincoln (Cameron M. Brown). He eventually signs the Emancipation Proclamation, setting the American Civil War in motion. William is later bitten by Vadoma and dies.
Confederate President Jefferson Davis (John Rothman) convinces Adam to deploy his vampires on the front
lines. Lincoln orders the confiscation of all the silverware in the area and has it melted to produce silver weapons. Speed, believing that Lincoln will lead them to death, defects and informs Adam that Lincoln will transport the silver by train.
On the train, Adam and Vadoma attack Lincoln, Sturgess, and Johnson, who have set fire to the upcoming trestle. During the fight, in which Speed is killed, Adam learns that the train holds only rocks. Lincoln reveals that Speed's betrayal was a ruse to lure Adam into a trap. Lincoln uses his watch to stab Adam, killing him, and the three escape the train before it explodes. Meanwhile, Mary and the ex-slaves have transported the silver to Gettysburg through the Underground Railroad. The now leaderless Confederate vampires stage a final, massive assault and are met head on by the Union. Armed with their silver weapons, the Union soldiers destroy the vampires and win the war.
A few months later, on April 14, 1865, Sturgess tells Lincoln that the remaining vampires have fled the country. Sturgess unsuccessfully tries to convince Lincoln to allow him to turn Lincoln into a vampire, so that he can become immortal and continue to fight vampires. That night, John Wilkes Booth kills Lincoln. In modern times, Sturgess approaches a young man at a bar in Washington, D.C. as he once approached Lincoln.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter was originally scheduled to be released in 2D and 3D on October 28, 2011, but was later pushed back to June 22, 2012. The movie premiered in New York City on June 18. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter also made an unconventional debut with a screening for troops deployed in the Middle East. The movie, which is slated for release on June 22, was screened to over 1800 sailors aboard the Navy aircraft carrier, USS Abraham Lincoln, which is stationed in the Middle East. Several of the film's stars attended the screening, including Anthony Mackie, Erin Wasson and Benjamin Walker, who dressed in character as Abraham Lincoln. The screening marks the first time that a major motion picture made its debut for United States servicemen and women.
In June 24, 2012, Rotten Tomatoes reports a "rotten" approval score of 37%, based on 136 reviews. The consensus reads that the film "has visual style to spare, but its overly serious tone doesn't jibe with its decidedly silly central premise, leaving filmgoers with an unfulfilling blend of clashing ingredients." Emanuel Levy of EmanuelLevy.com wrote that "Though original, this is a strenuous effort to combine the conventions of two genres." The movie also garnered a "mixed or average" score of 42 out of 100 on Metacritic, based on 28 reviews.
Richard Corliss of Time magazine elaborates, saying that "The historical epic and the monster movie run on parallel tracks, occasionally colliding but never forming a coherent whole." Christy Lemire of Associated Press meanwhile, comments on the film's tenor and visual effects, saying "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," awarding the film a rating of 1.5 out of 4. Joe Morgenstern of The Wall Street Journal agrees, saying, "Someone forgot to tell the filmmakers ... that the movie was supposed to be fun. Or at least smart."
Joe Neumaler of New York Daily News gives the film a rating of 1 out of 5, writing, "This insipid mashup of history lesson and monster flick takes itself semi-seriously, which is truly deadly." The title is praised by Manohla Dargis of The New York Times, who adds, "it's too bad someone had to spoil things by making a movie to go with it." The title is further commented on by Barbara VanDenburgh from the Arizona Republic, who says, "The problem with movies based on a single joke is that a single joke is rarely funny enough to sustain the running time of a feature-length film".
Positive response meanwhile, came from Marc Savlov of the Austin Chronicle, "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter has heart to spare, and the occasional silvered bayonet to run it through." USA Today reviewer Scott Bowles remarks, "A stylish slasher of a movie, a monster flick that does its vampires right, if not their real-life counterparts," giving the film 2.5 out of 4. Further acclaim came from Joe Williams of St. Louis Post-Dispatch, who calls it, "The best action movie of the summer," and praising the film for presenting "a surprisingly respectful tone toward American values and their most heroic proponent", calling "the battlefield scenes suitably epic" and finally commending leading star Benjamin Walker, "a towering actor who looks like a young Liam Neeson and never stoops to caricature."
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter debuted on June 22, 2012 in the United States screening at 3,108 theaters. It grossed $6,300,000 on its opening day, domestically and $701,000 at its midnight showings and ended up grossing $16.6 million over the weekend in third place behind Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted and Disney Pixar's Brave.
It has, thus far, made $28,036,680.
Directed by Timur Bekmambetov
Produced by Timur Bekmambetov
Screenplay by Seth Grahame-Smith
Based on Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith
Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Music by Henry Jackman
Cinematography Caleb Deschanel
Editing by William Hoy
Studio Bazelevs Company
Tim Burton Productions
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date: June 20, 2012United Kingdom
June 22, 2012United States
Running time: 105 minutes
Box office: $28,036,680
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