Abraham Lincoln: Matrix Meets Civil War

I expected to hate this movie. I’d borrowed the book from my friend Leslie (she of I Know I’m Not Normal Because…, who will be posting her own review shortly review is here) and struggled through the first…third?…before I gave up. I didn’t like it. It wasn’t interesting. It was too much blah blah and not enough action or suspense. Therefore, this review is about the movie only, which Leslie tells me is nothing like the book.

If you’re going to see this one, go into it with an open mind. (I mean, you have to be at least a little willing to suspend your disbelief; a President slaughtering vampires? Hokay.) But I mean really open your mind. This movie is wild, and over the top, and funny in a possibly unintentional way. It reminds me of Drag Me to Hell in that if you’re expecting scary, you’re out of luck. If you’re expecting to be entertained, you’ll have fun.

Super-quick summary: go see it, in 3D, before it’s out of theatres. The spoilers start below:

Abraham Lincoln is a total badass who spins his axe like a karate bow staff. He started picking off the vampires, blah blah, and I started to think it was going to be nothing but hack-and-slash. At one point his axe is revealed to be both a gun and a knife. (Really??)

Then it got pretty.

The movie is wonderful to look at, even in its most bizarre scenes. There’s a LOT of CGI. Sometimes it gets crazy, like a chase scene where we see Lincoln hopping Frogger-style across the backs of stampeding horses. And there’s a few too many slo-mo fight-scene Matrix backbends. But it’s also used subtly, and beautifully, as with the falling embers and the vampires’ reflective eyes.

The costumes are incredible: if I thought I could get away with wearing 1800’s period dresses I would be all over it. I especially loved Mary’s mourning dress, as seen at the dinner table with Lincoln. Not only would I wear the clothes, they would give me an excuse to knit a shawl like I’ve always wanted.

The sets looked fantastic, especially the burning train trestle and Lincoln’s office at the White House.

Standouts: THE VAMPIRES! They looked quite a bit different than your standard vamps: when they attack, they’re almost demonic in appearance. And the effects when a person has been bitten are impressive (you can see the veins pulsing beneath the skin). I also appreciated that the actors were able to speak normally with fangs in; none of the mushy mouth you usually get with vampire movies.

Watch out for: the bad 80’s riffs on the soundtrack to the fight after the ball, the axe-gun-knife, the flawless projection of a child’s tiny metal sword when fired from a gun, and Henry’s ability to hold up entire train cars without ripping his arms off. There are some plot gaps, too: Lincoln attacking Henry for lying about being a vampire (uh, no he didn’t) and Mary blaming Lincoln for hiding the whole vampire thing from him (nah, he told her right to her face).

Still? It grew on me. I really, truly liked it. Even if there were only three of us in the theatre.

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