I’ve always enjoyed Tim Burton’s special brand of dark elegance and endearing menace, from Edward Scissorhands and the original Batman to what is (and shall likely remain) his masterpiece, The Nightmare Before Christmas. Alice in Wonderland and Dark Shadows were both misfires, I’ll give you that, but they were still highly enjoyable in moments, if for no other reason than that Johnny Depp appeared to save the films from themselves.
Alas, there’s no Johnny Depp in the Tim Burton-produced Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer, a movie that on paper sounds both promising and interesting but which ultimately fails to deliver the requisite goods. A young man fondly known as Honest Abe is driven to revenge when his mother is killed by a vampire in the 1800s. To avenge her death, he becomes a lawyer, moves up the hierarchy of politics as an elected official until he becomes President of the United States. Now, he can surely conquer the villain that did away with his poor mother, right? If saving the union and freeing the slaves is not such a tall order, what’s the slaying of one vampire?
For whatever reason, director Timur Bekmambetov has opted for a much more serious movie than the subject demands. It’s all so fanciful and campy that at times you find yourself wondering how it could all turn out to be so, well . . . dull! Instead of an ax-wielding president that kicks vampire booty, we get a conflicted and moody young man torn between bloodlust and upholding the law. It has a certain Baroque-feel and look to the entire picture, but apart from the visual presentation there’s very little to recommend the film.
Even the lead star (Benjamin Walker) seems to be sleepwalking through his role. Someone should have reminded him that he’s playing a vampire killer, not a zombie. Maybe Tim Burton needs a vacation?