What to do tonight: Sink your teeth into Honest Abe
June 21, 2012 7:45 PM
Photo: Alan Markfield
Benjamin Walker stars as "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter."
Sharon Eberson The Pittsburgh Press
The few reviewers who have seen "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" have not been kind to the movie I was most excited to see this summer, with one of the main complaints that it takes itself too seriously. The film is based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Seth Grahame-Smith, and the author has always said that the joke ends at the title.
Here are five reasons I already have a ticket to see "Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter," which opens in wide release at the stroke of midnight tonight.
1. "Historical" and "fiction" have been great companions in legend and on film. As far as anyone can tell, George Washington never chopped down that cherry tree so that he could own up to it and be pegged a truthful boy, but the story became a legend for what it represents, not for its veracity. Likewise, some tell an unconfirmed tale of Lincoln as a young store clerk pursuing a customer to return change he was owed, thus earning the nickname Honest Abe.
Also to the point, movies based on real events ("Gone With the Wind," for example) and real people ("The Great Dictator") have done pretty well, even when there's only a thread to ground them in reality. Movies such as "A Beautiful Mind," which rewrote the life of Nobel Prize-winning mathematician John Nash, have met with controversy about stretching the truth yet triumphed with audiences.
2. Mr. Grahame-Smith has written the screenplay based on his novel, a page-turning epic adventure with attention to historic detail mixed with a wildly imaginative story. He also penned the "Dark Shadows" screenplay and the novel "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies," with careful attention to their inspirations.
3. Star Benjamin Walker came to the role of Mr. Lincoln having won acclaim in a satirical portrayal of another American president. In the Broadway musical "Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson," Mr. Walker was the main reason for the tagline "History just got all sexypants." In tight leather pants and black eye makeup, he suffered in fine emo style and gave the seventh president rock star appeal -- not the usual portrait of the distinguished-looking guy on the 20-dollar bill.
Seen from that outrageous perspective, the idea of the emancipation president fighting vampires as an ax-wielding arm of justice doesn't seem quite so out there.
4. Timur Bekmambetov and Tim Burton would seem to be a team perfectly matched for the project. Producer Burton's journeys into the dark side are well-document; director Bekmambetov is known for his vampire franchise "Night Watch" and "Day Watch" and re-creating the comic book "Wanted," about a team of super-skilled assassins.
5. If HBO's summer sizzler "True Blood" doesn't satisfy your appetite for good and evil vampires and the November finale of "The Twilight Saga" is too far off, this is your chance for blood-splattering vampire action. It's available in 3D, too, so for those of you who like that sort of thing, it's sure to get messy.