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Rashid Irani's review: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Rashid Irani, Hindustan Times   July 13, 2012
First Published: 23:32 IST(13/7/2012) | Last Updated: 13:53 IST(14/7/2012)

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
Direction: Timur Bekmambetov
Cast: Benjamin Walker, Dominic Cooper
Rating: **1/2

The very idea is audacious. The title, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, is immediately startling, revealing the revered 16th American President (1861-65) as a slayer of the undead. Adapted from the 2010 bestselling fantasy novel by Seth Grahame Smith (who also wrote the screenplay), the film has a Gothic flashmatazz, playing upon the use of colours, which are alternately velvety black and an eye-boggling crimson.

Co-produced by Tim Burton, the master of unbridled imagination (Beetlejuice, for one), the opulently mounted twilight epic is directed by Russia's Timur Bekmambetov (Night Watch). Expectedly, the outcome is a visual stunner. On the narrative front, the metaphorical use of vampires (as the rednecks who exploited black slaves relentlessly), however, in effect becomes a pretext for a vendetta tale full of sound and nerve-tingling fury.

As a child, Lincoln (Benjamin Walker) witnesses the death of his mother as a consequence of his friendship with a black boy. Determined to wreak vengeance on the white despot (Rufus Sewell) who wields unchecked power, Lincoln Jr is mentored by a Good Samaritan (Dominic Cooper) aware of the fact that the despot is a vampire who lives off human blood.

On growing up, Lincoln wields a silver-coated axe to exterminate the creatures who have received a new lease of life in the movies with the Twilight series. Quite naturally, a smidgen of romance is worked into the plot, with the presence of a sweet-natured girl (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) whom the future president weds and adores unconditionally. Twists in the screenplay ensure that there is more than meets the eye: even the virtuous can be vampires in sheep's clothing.

Fairly engaging, the high-concept movie is remarkable especially for its set designs, costumes and tempo of story-telling. Walker makes for a convincing young Lincoln and is supported ably by Dominic Cooper. It might help if you suspend your sense of disbelief, though, to thrill to the notion of a President who wages the kind of deadly war associated with Hollywood super-heroes like Batman and Spiderman.

In fact, something tells you that a sequel may already be in the works.

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