In Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, we get to see an origin for the President not all that different than Batman's, only instead of seeing his parents murdered by a robber in an alley, Abe watches as a vampire kill his mother, although at the time he didn't actually know it was a vampire. This sets little Abraham on a quest for vengeance, that almost gets him killed when he confronts his mother's killer some years later unprepared. Luckily he's saved by a mysterious stranger named Henry. Once Abe recovers from the attack, Henry clues him in to the existence of bloodsuckers, and offers to train him to fight them. Once he's confident enough in his abilities, Abe sets out to make a life for himself, as a lawyer by day and hunter of the undead by night. Along the way, he becomes an outspoken activist rallying his fellow countrymen against slavery, stating over and over, and OVER, that until every man is free, we are all slaves. Eventually, he decides that freeing the slaves is more important than killing vampires, and he puts down his ax in favor of pursuing his career in politics. However, he made quite a few enemies amongst the minions of the night, and they aren't the forgiving kind.
Ok, the first half of this movie? I actually enjoyed myself. It was as silly as the name "Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter" implies it would be. While I consider this to be more of an action flick than horror, it does have plenty of jump scares, and although almost all cgi, there is a good amount of gore. The vampires also appeared to be mostly cgi once the fangs came out, replacing the actual actors. The effects aren't the best I've ever seen, nor were they the worst. It's when he puts down the ax and decides to get into politics that the movie absolutely grinds to a halt. I got so bored at this point, that it was hard for me to even stay awake in the theater. I wanted to see Abe chopping vampires limb from limb with an ax for 90 minutes, not 40 minutes of that followed by a half hour of an incredibly watered down, mostly inaccurate retelling of the history leading up to the Civil War. There was a little bit of fun thrown in here, especially when the head vampire Adam meets with the Confederate army and forms an alliance to eliminate Lincoln and win the war for the South, after which the vamps would be given their own portion of the country to run. Maybe if more had been done in this vein, I would've been more into the second act of the film. Unfortunately, it was mostly boring, and was a chore for me to sit through.
I realize full well that in a movie such as this, of course the audience is expected to suspend belief and just go with it. I'm usually pretty good about doing just that, but some of this movie I just couldn't let go, mostly pertaining to Abraham. I understand the fact that he went through some serious Jedi-like training with Henry. He learned methods on hunting supernatural creatures who live in the dark, and can even turn themselves invisible. Dude learned how to wield the shit out of an ax too. That much I get, but what I don't get is where Abe got his seemingly superhuman abilities from. This is supposed to be a normal guy who hunts vampires, not an ax wielding superhero. Abe is constantly showing feats of superhuman strength and agility, keeping pace with vampires as they move, leap, etc. with the speed expected of supernatural beings such as themselves. The absolute worst was when Abe was caught in a chase with one in the middle of a horse stampede. You really have to see this scene for yourself, I don't want to ruin it, but my God, come on.
Looking at performances, most were bland. Benjamin Walker, as Abe, was pretty generic, even when he was supposed to be giving passionate speeches about freeing slaves. There was a scene at the beginning of the movie, when young Abraham is standing with his father looking down at his mother's tombstone that made me laugh. It was a very "Forrest Gump" moment, which prompted me to say "You died on a Tuesday" out loud in my best Forrest voice. Dominic Cooper, as Abe's teacher in all things vampire ass kickering, Henry, was equally laughable, not only because he clearly was going for dark and mysterious and came across as goofy, but also because he bore a striking resemblance to Adam Jensen, the protagonist from Deus Ex Human Revolution, which I've just recently finished playing, right down to the gravely voice and stupid shades. Every time he was on screen, I had to keep myself from snickering. The only person I actually kinda liked was Abe's friend Joshua Speed, who was played by Jimmi Simpson, who I actually dig in most things he does. Joshua was the only character in the movie that didn't look like a cardboard cut-out moving around while a voice over played.
All in all, I can't say that I'm upset that I went to see Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter. I genuinely enjoyed roughly half of the movie. The parts that I didn't enjoy though, I REALLY didn't enjoy. At some point I do still plan to read the novel it was based on, and after that I may go back and check out the movie again. I won't before then though. That said, it's hard to really give this one a recommendation, especially when there's so much better vampire fiction out there right now. I'd just watch Stake Land again if I were you.