Spielberg’s film was more authentic, but not as much fun. The plot is simple. Abe’s mom is killed by a vampire, he vows revenge, is tutored by a vampire hunter, and thereafter lives a double life, rising to power in the day while hunting vampires at night.
It’s a big, flashy, superficial comic book, but it moves, and when Lincoln’s political ambitions intersect with the battle against the undead, the Lincoln story gets going. If there is to be a war over slavery, it will be brutal and vicious, because, in the words of Lincoln’s mentor, the blood of the slaves “is the only thing that has kept [the vampires] sated for this long.” Their feed stock threatened, the vampires step up the game, kill Willie (Mary Todd’s insanity is better explained) and bolster the ranks of the Confederates. Lincoln, however, shows great ingenuity and the tide is turned.
I saw this film’s lead blow the crowd away in Broadway’s “Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson” and in his second turn as an American president, Benjamin Walker remains compelling. But this is a broad action pic, heavy on CGI. The actors aren’t pressed.
The film is also the appropriate length. Whereas The Avengers has the temerity to run 2 hours and 35 minutes, this popcorn flick is a swift 1.45, which is still a tad long but fine.
It falters when it approaches seriousness. The writing can also be pedestrian and it lacks a needed sense of humor. The picture also steals its ending from The Road Warrior. But when Abe starts swinging that axe, it regains its footing.