Taking another spin on history is plausible I suppose, if it is done right. It’s like updating Shakespeare to contemporary times. If it’s done right, it can be a wonderful production. But not updating the language or incorrectly updating the language can be disastrous. In 2012, a film came along, based upon a book by Seth Grahame-Smith, who also penned the screenplay for Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. He took some historical facts and placed the undead around those facts. It made Lincoln look like some sort of 19th century superhero.
In the film, the story begins when, as a young boy, Abraham Lincoln witnesses his mother’s murder by a vampire. This of course instills a slight fear and a tremendous hatred towards the bloodsuckers. Along the way, in his young adulthood, Lincoln (Benjamin Walker) befriends Henry Sturges (Dominic Cooper) who is a hunter himself. He takes on Lincoln as an apprentice to learn the ways of killing vampires. So, that’s the basic plot. Oh yes, also along the way he befriends Will Johnson (Anthony Mackie) who then joins Lincoln at times to battle the blood thirsty creatures, and of course his future wife, Mary Todd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead).
Timur Bekmambetov took Grahame-Smith’s script and stylized the action using effects used in The Matrix. I suppose it is visually appealing. But that is only one element. The film would have the audience believe the North was losing because the South was being overrun by vampires, who were also soldiers, and that Mary Todd Lincoln was bitten by a vampire, became ill, and ultimately resulted in her death. The climax results in a bit of a lengthy sequence involving a train, explosions, and killing vampires. It might make for a visually stunning action sequence, but somehow just looks out of place for the moment and characters. If follows the sentiment that Bekmambetov and Grahame-Smith treated the title character as some sort of action-adventurer or superhero.
Grahame-Smith also wrote a short novel – Pride and Prejudice and Zombies – which also became a film earlier this year. He may have been attempting to capitalize on the huge following that occurred brought on by the Twilight series and The Walking Dead. I suppose the mash up of vampires in the 19th century and young Abraham Lincoln might be considered a fantastic idea. But it all just becomes fantasy. And I suppose that might be what the filmmakers were attempting to do here. Play out some sort of fantasy with The Matrix-type special effects and action having little to do with what history books taught us. It might make for a fun, summer escape, popcorn flick, but just seems to become a far-fetched piece of fiction.