(Note: I have seen The Dark Knight Rises now, and it's the second best flick I've watched this year.)
SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK
By the time you read this, the superhero movies of earlier in the summer will have been supplanted by the latest one, The Dark Knight Rises, which is of course about Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Kidding! No, it’s about Batman, I think. Apparently they ran out of ways to title a movie after Batman: There’s already been Batman, Batman Returns, Batman and Robin, Batman Begins (which, confusingly, began after Batman returned), Batman and Alfred, Batman Joins the AARP …
Alfred. Talk about a thankless job. “I’ve cleaned your cape, sir … would you like me to escort the young lady out?”
At this writing I haven’t seen the new Batman flick, but there’ve been a rash of superhero movies – which certainly beats having a super rash – and Bats is just the latest. The latest movie, not rash. In one movie, The Avengers, you couldn’t follow the heroes without a scorecard. (And it was awesome, by the way. The movie, not the scorecard.)
So far this year we’ve had appearances by Iron Man, Captain America, Hawkeye (a former army surgeon, Hawkeye is like Green Arrow without the green), Spider-Man, Abraham Lincoln, The Incredible –
We went to the drive-in two weeks ago and ended up seeing three shows, if you include the early showing of a violent thunderstorm that tore up everything just north of us. Maybe Storm from the X-Men had a cold. The first movie was The Amazing Spider-Man, which I was surprised to find I liked more than the previous three Spidey pics even though it retold the origin story … again.
Just briefly, what I liked about the new telling is that Peter Parker was a high schooler, and acted like a high schooler, complete with the fun-loving way he experimented with his new powers and his complete inability to talk to girls. It gave me the feeling that this movie was more accurate to the original comic book … but I could be wrong, because I seldom read the original comic. Didn’t like all the spider references.
But back to Abraham Lincoln – vampire hunter.
That’s the title of the movie, by the way, based on a book of the same name. When I first heard that title, I knew it was either the lamest thing of all time, or a stroke of pure genius.
I’m still not sure which.
Abraham Lincoln was my favorite President, followed closely by Millard Fillmore. In addition to being awesome, he’s living proof that there was a time, now long passed, when ugly people could be elected President.
If I’d written Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, I’d have taken a more lighthearted approach: Not quite a parody, but maybe poking a bit of fun at the whole concept. I actually am working on an idea for a zombie story that takes such an approach, but I’m not using any Presidents because many of the recent ones are already too zombie-like. I’m pretty sure Jimmy Carter died in 1978.
The brilliance of the title is that, in four words, you pretty much have the whole thing down. Unfortunately, while the movie’s well-made and chock full of good effects, the makers chose to approach the subject with deadly, earnest seriousness.
Come on, people! Abraham Lincoln – vampire hunter! You gotta have fun with something like that!
The plots: As a young boy, Lincoln witnesses his mother’s murder by – wait for it – oh, you already guessed? This sets him on the road to revenge, until he’s approached by a mysterious stranger who explains that there are lots of vampires out there, and he can train Lincoln to kill them. Lincoln, who’s already had a bad experience with firearms, chooses an ax for his demon killing weapon of choice.
Honestly, up until then I could actually buy the concept. Lincoln was a tough man, a brawler and former rail splitter well versed with the ax and, indeed, his mother did die when he was young. Then he meets his future wife. Going against history, the story has Mary Todd engaged to Stephen Douglas at the time.
Lost me there. What was the point of having Lincoln steal Mary from the man he ran against for the Illinois senate, when it’s never brought up again?
Still, when you’re going into a movie that proposes a US President went around at night beheading the undead, it’s best to cast thoughts of historical accuracy aside.
The same rule applies to some of the over the top action sequences. One, during a horse stampede, should give the biggest action fan a headache from repeatedly slapping his forehead. You have to leave logic and believability behind for any action flick these days, but overall Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter was a fun ride, made better by the fact that I had low expectations going in.
If I was going to rate that drive-in trip, using the yard stick my wife suggested, I’d give Abe’s movie 2 ½ out of 4 Mustaches. Why mustaches? Why not? The Amazing Spider-Man gets 3 ½ out of 4, the thunderstorm gets the same, and I’m elevating the popcorn to 4 out of 4 because I made it, so the price was right.
Now we wait for the inevitable sequels: Herbert Hoover: Zombie Slayer; James Madison: Werewolf Killer; and, of course, John F. Kennedy vs. Godzilla.
My wife suggested another movie featuring a Founding Father: Benjamin Franklinstein.