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Abraham Lincoln is out to kill vampires this weekend, in a film which recasts the 16th president’s quest to end slavery as connected to a secret mission to destroy the undead.
Though Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is predicted to be slain by Pixar’s Brave, the film adapted from Seth Grahame-Smith’s novel earned a solid $701,000 from Thursday midnight showings, and is on its way to a $15-$20 million opening weekend.
While historians rate the real Lincoln as one of the finest Commanders in Chief of all time, what did the film critics think of the genre-bending flick starring the 16th president?
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Below is a sampling of what the critics are sayingg.
The Hollywood Reporter’s Justin Lowe praised Grahame-Smith’s ideas, crediting the writer (who adapted his novel for the screen) with the film’s virtues and shortcomings alike. He found Benjamin Walker (Lincoln) a “fairly capable” axe-wielder, but thought he was stiff during slower scenes.
Lowe concluded “Abraham Lincoln credibly delivers the thrills and gore it promises, though it’s ultimately too lightweight and conventional to merit either cult or classic status.”
Genre-friendly IGN gave the film 5.5 out of 10, with Jim Vejvoda writing “the movie takes itself so seriously that it never seems like it’s having any fun, so it’s tough to feel much of anything but ambivalence while watching all the bloody mayhem unfold.”
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Salon’s Andrew O’Hehir had a more positive take on historical mashup. He wrote it includes more “high concept” than another recent alternative history flick, Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, and praised its “hilarious, imaginative, almost free-form action sequences.” O’Hehir gleefully recounted a scene in which Lincoln and a vampire boss fight amid a stampede of horses, using the animals as both transportation and as weapons.
“In its own idiotic and limited way, it’s a work of genius, and you could almost say that about the movie as a whole,” O’Hehir wrote.
The New York Times’ Manohla Dargis wrote there is something satisfying “about watching Lincoln decapitate a slave-trading ghoul, at least the first few dozen times.” But, she dismissed director Timur Bekmambetov. “If only Mr. Bekmambetov had a strong sense of narrative rhythm and proportion, and as great a commitment to life as he does to death and all the ways bodies can be digitally pulverized,” she wrote.
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Writing for Chiller, Todd Gilchrist called the film an “ugly, unwieldy, hurried, machinelike monolith that oozes style without any sense of intelligence, pacing, or coherence.”
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