You folks are going to have to forgive me. This post and the next are going to be all Abe-Lincoln-Vampire-Hunter’ed up. I read the novel by Seth Grahame-Smith and promptly went to see the movie. And even though I have read 2.3 other books since Abe, I still have a couple of thoughts swirling around up there that I need to get out.
First, a little back story: I hate movie critics. Not as people or anything. No, I hate them because I believe certain people shouldn’t critique certain movies. For example, haughty-toity (sp?) types shouldn’t review movies like The Expendables or Tropic Thunder because they’re going to say the writing is bad, the plot is unbelievable, the humor was crude, the actions scenes were too loud, etc… Likewise, someone like me, who enjoys action movies like The Expendables probably shouldn’t review something like The Vow or The Notebook. (We see this in book reviews all the time don’t we, readers/writers? It’s annoying in all forms, trust me.)
So what does this have to do with Ole Honest Abe? I came across this review on USA Today after I had finished the book, but before I had seen the movie. Allow me to demonstrate its jerkiness:
- The title of the review is “Abraham Lincoln Finely Dices History.” Yes we know, it isn’t a documentary on the Discovery Channel.
- “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter does to history what its commander-in-chief does to the undead populace: mangles it beyond recognition.” Please see Number 1.
- “Moviegoers likely aren’t coming for a refresher course on our 16th president or the Civil War.” Oh, so you do get it? So what’s your problem then, dude?
- “Lincoln watches his mother’s murder at the hands of a vampire. (For the record, Nancy Lincoln died at 34 from “milk sickness,” a common ailment at the time contracted by ingesting contaminated milk or bad beef.)” Congratulations. You have access to Google. Nerd. For the record, the beauty of the original novel was the author’s ability to explain away historical “facts” with instances of the existence of vampires. I don’t want to be crude, but something tells me this reviewer’s bedroom isn’t exactly rockin’…
- “[The movie] goes way off track after the mother’s death, and nearly derails with a rock-scored training montage that has become requisite viewing in any fight film.” As my Hubby-pants and I like to say, there are only about eight basic premises for movies, with subtle changes in characterization and plot details. So I’m sorry, but the Coming-of-Age (gosh, I hate that saying) Action Movie includes learning how to be all action-y and stuff. Deal.
- “The fight scenes — especially the battle on a runaway train speckled in coal sparks — can be spectacular. As action films go, [this movie] is hard to beat.” Okay, now I’m confused. Either you get it or you don’t.
- “But oh, what it could have been. The film dances around solid themes: racism, nationhood, the embodiment of evil vs. the spirit of good.” *Sigh* You don’t get it… Dude, it’s not The Help, or The King’s Speech, or Evita, or any other Oscar worthy film. IT’S. ABOUT. VAMPIRES. (by the way, the film actually includes way more slaves than the book did. William, the free slave who was Abe’s roll-dawg? Doesn’t exist in the book. But, alas, this is a discussion best left for my next post.)
- “Confederate soldiers aren’t much more likable than the vampires, who side with the South, of course.” Oh, you mean like they do in the novel? Because slaves are easy prey and without slavery they can’t survive in the shadows? What would you have the vampires do? Hmm?
- “Even its attempts at humor, especially Mary Todd nagging her husband that they’ll be late for the play that ultimately kills him, make you wish [the movie] would stick to the impalements.” You would think you artsy-fartsy types would recognize foreshadowing when you see it. Did you not just witness Henry (Abe’s vampire pal and mentor) discussing with Abe the endless possibilities of their vampire hunting if Abe were also immortal?
- “Despite its factual dismemberment of the movie’s namesake, Hunter bristles as summer action fodder. Honest.” This is how the review concludes, summarizing the entire thing beautifully: The reviewer doesn’t get it (they never do), but he kinda does (I’m still not sold.)
I admit, I have not seen the movie or read the book. But when I saw the title, I rolled my eyes.
I have seen positive reviews from fans though. I like a good action movie, and that’s what it seems this is. I think people are just having a problem getting around the Abe-Lincoln reference.
I rolled my eyes too, but it was recommended so I read it and actually enjoyed it.
I don’t understand why people are having such a hard time with the Abe Lincoln thing. It’s not like it’s the first historical fiction piece. Maybe because it’s a historical person, not a historical setting?
The only thing this review demonstrates is 1. The reviewer was really peeved that the boss made him watch this movie. 2. The reviewer never gets laid.
“Hunter bristles as summer action fodder. Honest.” I am a writer. I have written 4 novels. I spent 10 years writing and editing at work. I have no idea what this means. I had to look on dictionary.com to see if there is an arcane definition of the word “bristles” that I didn’t know.
I’m thinking it’s this one: “to become rigid with anger or irritation.” The movie made him so angry, he became sexually aroused. That’s just TMI.
I wish there was a “Like” button for this comment. Haha.
I hate reading reviews. The critics never like anything unless it’s some obscure indie film that doesn’t get a wide release until after its won 4 academy awards. This guy is an idiot.
Also, as a masters student in history, I could care less that this movie weaves fact and fiction together. Its a movie, like you said, not a documentary. Just because some irritable writer at USA Today can google American history, doesn’t mean he can act like this movie somehow degrades it. Have you ever read a public school history book? That degrades history more than this movie.
Okay off my soap box now. 🙂 Love your post!
Well said! I say that all the time about movie critics. The most critically acclaimed films are those that no one ever sees. That’s why if the critics pan a movie, I’m 92% sure I’ll go to see it. 😉
I purposely went looking at critic reviews for just this reason. I rarely look at reviews, but this one got me wondering. I’d recommend these guys read the book instead of watching the movie; they might (might!) appreciate it more.
Maybe, who knows. Like I replied to Whitney, if a reviewer hates a film, I usually decide then and there that I want to see it. (Which is why I had some gripes about seeing Prometheous, which the reviewer referred to here enjoyed.)
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Wow, thanks so much for the shout out! At least someone is reading my blog posts during this summertime lag, haha.