For a film with a name that illicits uproarious applause and ironic laughter, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter takes itself way too seriously. Where I should be comparing this film with adventurous summer fare like The Avengers, this piece of historical fiction is probably closer in tone to something like Gladiator or The Patriot. Somewhere along the line, I suspect its creators forgot they were making a film about Abraham Lincoln fighting vampires, but I sure didn't.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter follows the recent trend of turning fantasy adventures into dark and serious action epics. The difference is that while Alice in Wonderland and Snow White & The Huntsmen are based on fairy tales, good old Abe was a real dude. We know what he really did, and so seeing him twirl an ax like a baton and dispatch scores of vampires is completely hilarious. Yet every time I laughed it was clear that the film disagreed, taking the audience from one self-serious encounter to the next without a single wink or nod.
What's worse is that the super serious tone of the film does not match with the balletic action of the fight scenes. Lincoln twirls his ax nonsensically at his foes, finishing them off with what looks like the lightest touch and a gallon of CG blood thrown in for good measure. There's no weight to each swing of his ax and no sense of danger from the silly-looking vampires. In fact, between their ridiculous toothy grins and a horse stampede that looked like a Saturday morning cartoon, this film featured some of the most distracting CG work since I am Legend.
The only thing that really holds this film together is its somewhat clever adaptation of historical events into vampire lore. The south rallies behind slavery so that vampires can prey on the slaves, Lincoln becomes a politician so he can stop them, and Harriet Tubman makes a few cameos to help along the way. The problem is that although it leads to some fun historical connections, a lot of the concepts were taken from the book that the film is based on. The plot is clever, but it doesn't feel earned because it's mostly pulling from the source material.
A clever plot doesn't mean clever dialogue. Each character speaks almost entirely in quotable one-liners that sound great in trailers but like fluff when said one after another. You know that Facebook friend that always posts pictures of historical figures with inspiring quotes next to them? That guy probably wrote most of the dialogue in this film.
When you blend it all together, you're left with a movie that has its heart in all the wrong places, is stylistically tone deaf, and lacks oomph in the action scenes — the one part that really, really should have been good. Bad dialogue is delivered in a dry, unfunny manner, and no amount of clever plotting could have made that interesting. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter isn't an offensively bad experience, but in running down its list of missed opportunities and lazy, poor decisions, it really doesn't have a lot to offer you either.