July 3rd, 2012


Perverse Revisioning of Lincoln

A Long Holiday Week

The Fourth of July is on a Wednesday this year, so those Americans who have any meager vacation time available are likely to front load, back load or take the whole damn week off. Mrs. Dr. Phil is taking Monday and Tuesday off, so when she got off work Friday, it was the start of a long weekend.

Mrs. Dr. Phil decided we needed to see a holiday blockbuster movie and what were the showtimes for Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter? Turned out that the last 3D showing at the Holland 7 was at 7:20pm. It was 5:46pm, and we'd need to leave at around 6:20pm. Fortunately our dinner plans were not complex, as we'd planned on a light supper using this season's first local tomato (DW) to make tomato sandwiches (DW).

Having declared that we could have popcorn for dessert, as surely this would be a popcorn movie, Mrs. Dr. Phil showed up with both popcorn and a box of SnoCaps. Interesting experiment -- there's just enough residual heat in brand new fresh popcorn to do a number on the SnoCaps, which are small enough to slip between the kernels and make a yummy gooey chocolate popcorn treat. Not sure we'll do that again, or if we do, very often, but it was fun.

Also we had a private screening. The Holland 7 was swamped with people, and even more crowded when we got out, but they were all going to see Ted or Brave or something. The comfortable widebody seat for two in Theatre 5 is perfectly dead center, and is next to a regular seat which has a cup holder. Win. (grin)

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter 3D [R]
Holland 7 Theatre 5, 7:20pm, 2×$11.25

Writer Charles Coleman Finlay had posted on Facebook that he liked this movie a lot more than he'd thought, adding that it provided the "only explanation for Pickett's Charge that has ever made any sense." That was enough to pique our interest.

When we first meet the young adult Lincoln, he doesn't seem to be the iconic Lincoln we know. Of course, Lincoln himself wasn't that vision until quite late in his career. Is this actor tall enough? Skinny enough? Too handsome? Perhaps. But then we're talking about an origin vampire hunter movie and not a biopic, so really, find something else to worry about -- the man does a good job as this particular Lincoln. And that's good, because Stephen Douglas gets only a brief outing in this film and Mary Todd Lincoln does not strike me as the MTL of history.

The 3D work is mostly reasonable, although early in the movie there is an out of focus head closer than the main subject which makes the 3D look fake. Otherwise there are spectacular costumes and amusing, if impossible, fight choreography. The Matrix may have invented Bullet Time, Lincoln gives us Swirling Airborne Blood Time. And everything with a blade sings through the air. (grin) Who knew that an axe could be a sexy weapon? Or so versatile and convertible? (double-edged-grin)

There are surely great gaping holes in the "history" being shown here, but if you check your brain at the door, then those little bits of history which have been integrated into the story will tease and delight, rather than leave a sour taste in your mouth. The latter will be reserved for the one true flaw in the movie -- making the slave trade a cover for the vampires' food supply, while a nice trick, has the unfortunate effect of letting the real issues of slavery off the hook. Not only does it dilute what should be an important discussion, hell, it was already done by Anne Rice in Interview With The Vampire.

There are two very impressive bits of CGI work. One is shown in the trailer, in which a flying shot of Washington DC circling the Washington Monument, dissolves to its 1854-77 construction hiatus. The other briefly shows the intense riverboat traffic around New Orleans. This one amuses me, because Saturday night's Midnight Special on WFMT was playing the first disk of the CD Mark Twain: Words & Music, which talks about the traffic on the Mississippi.

A third elaborate CGI scene involving a burning railway trestle bridge lasts for far too long -- it must be the longest bridge in the world -- and suffers from some dreadful Physics.

The movie suffers from some problems, of course. For one thing, there is hardly anyone living or working in the White House, except for the extended family. Allan Pinkerton, whose security for Lincoln later developed into the Secret Service, seems to be absent. Wikipedia mentions that the legislation for the Secret Service was on Lincoln's desk when he went out to the play.

And then there's the canonical vampire issues, such as whether or not silver is going to do you a damned bit of good against a vampire. They throw in some faux lore to make it so, and I have to say that silver cannonballs are rather pretty. (grin)

We hadn't read the book, only heard a bit about it, so other than the obvious and the trailer, didn't go into this movie knowing the story. It's an interesting and amusing summer film. Some of the Civil War set pieces are nicely done -- I'm sure the reenactment crowd contributed. And the vampires confound and confuse, so there's that.

Recommended for Popcorn Fun.

TRAILERS: With Tim Burton involved in Lincoln, it seems like half the movie trailers were also Tim Burton productions. Other than that, the trailers didn't make an impression on me. Or I'd seen them before.

Dr. Phil