This time, I watched Abe Lincoln Vampire Hunter, which is based on Lincoln’s personal diary. Instead of adhering to the diary, though, Tim Burton veers off into crazyland, omitting nearly all of the important details in Lincoln’s life, and changing the ones he retained so that they become dumb. If you’re not going to follow the source material, then make a different movie and call it something else.
Liam Neeson plays Abe Lincoln, who was generally badass from the age of 5, but in the movie, he only discovers vampires when he’s an adult, and only after getting spooked by one and nearly getting killed. In real life, Abe befriended vampire Henry Sturges, and acted as his personal hitman. They kept this in the movie, but made up some goofiness about vampires not being able to kill other vampires (like Magneto is stopping them), and a Caucasian vampire who’s 5,000 years old and lived in Egypt. Sure. They should have spent less money on the all-star cast and more time reading history. The movie features Dominic Cooper, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jimmi Simpson, Rufus Sewell, Alan Tudyk (as himself), and the 37th Tennessee Reenactors, all of whom you’ll remember from an earlier (and superior) Tim Burton flick called DARK CITY.
So, Henry teaches Abe to use an axe and how to be strong, which is all totally ridiculous. Abe was good at this stuff by the time he met Henry. The movie then skates over everything cool about Lincoln and tries to be interesting, but it isn’t. No Edgar Allen Poe, no law firm, no battle against George Washington for control of the Senate, no overdose on SSRIs and struggle with sobriety… nothing. It doesn’t even cover the fact that vampires were responsible for slavery! Bah!
It follows the basic formula of all these dumb movies, culminating in Abe finally killing Adam the 5,000 year old white vampire during a ridiculous scene in which train cars jump a flaming, collapsing bridge. You don’t even find out Abe has four kids! They only show Willy! WILLY, the worst possible Lincoln of all! Plus they drag poor Mary Todd into the whole thing and have her shoot a vampire in the head with a toy. Come on!
For whatever reason, they cut out Abe’s assassination and resurrection as a vampire entirely. Who cares… this movie is as bad as Dark Shadow. Tim Burton also didn’t follow the source material for this one. Obviously, Dark Shadow is fiction, so there’s more room for play, but it wasn’t good, and this marks a sad trend in Burton’s movies lately. Do yourself a favor and just read Lincoln’s diary, repackaged as “Abe Lincoln Vampire Hunter” in a depressing attempt at a movie tie-in.