Thursday, June 28, 2012

Timur Bekmambetov: Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter

Benjamin Walker, Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, 20th Century Fox, 2012.

Reconfiguring history to fit into a neat little genre package which became the darling of the masses, author Seth Grahame-Smith's one joke, clever novel (as well as Pride & Prejudice and Zombies) satirizes our heritage, skewing it with gore and blood. Unfortunately, in adapting his own novel for the Summer big screen, Smith has lost, in translation, the humor and suspense which made his style stand apart. The script fails on so many levels; exposition is cluttered, dialogue stiff, characters cloudy.

A mediocre, almost bad, script, takes a lot to transform it. Director Bekmambetov is a visionary, and he tries, but fails. Having previously helmed the art-house vampire flicks Nightwatch and Daywatch, only to come stateside to craft the deliriously fun actioner Wanted, he would seem ideal for this material, and is, if only the script were in line. As it stands, we dont quite know what is going on, nor quite care.

The cast is good enough;Benjamin Walker is well cast as Lincoln; Anthony Mackie, Rufus Sewell, Dominic Cooper, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead are all in their elements. Bekmambetov directs with a visual style that is both dreamy and feverish; his slo-mo isnt as tired as it should be, because he ingrains it into his kinetic genre style.

The real stars here are the cinematographer and the composer; Caleb Deschanel's images are atmospherically gorgeous. The smoky creeping terror of 19th century America has never looked more tempting; Henry Jackman's score is rife with doom and passion; it goes to show that he is one of the most important of up and coming film composers.

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