Benjamin Walker

Benjamin Walker in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

“The joke ends in the title” has been a popular selling point for the makers of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Now, with the film out in the world, there will inevitably be question over that statement. However, what no one can question is the all-out seriousness the cast and director Timur Bekmambetov took Seth Grahame-Smith‘s material. There is no 21st century irony in sight here. Namely, there’s the lead of the film – Benjamin Walker, who goes as straight-faced as one can in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. No matter how ridiculous the situation – Lincoln running on top of horses or, you know, killing vampires – Walker never winks or smirks at the silliness. Here’s what Benjamin Walker had to say about the melancholic superhero nature of Abraham Lincoln, adjusting to makeup, and how the film is a Lincoln biopic which just so happens to have blood-thirsty vampires roaming around:

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Benjamin Walker in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

It’s hard to imagine how Abraham Lincoln could loom larger in the American mythos, but Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter appears to have found an answer. After all, what could compare with the awesome legacy of saving the Union and emancipating the slaves quite like prolifically slaying the undead on your downtime? Timur Bekmambetov’s adaptation of Seth Grahame-Smith’s mash-up novel (the author also wrote the screenplay) offers a vision of Honest Abe (Benjamin Walker) as an avenger hellbent on the destruction of bloodsucker bigwig Adam (Rufus Sewell) and the rest of his kind after vampire Jack Barts (Marton Csokas) murders Lincoln’s mother with just one bite. The movie cleverly reworks both the familiar events of the 16th President’s life and some broader archetypal period moments, and Grahame-Smith and Bekmambetov stick closer to the historical record than you’d think. When he’s not studying the law or romancing Mary Todd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) in Springfield, Lincoln is serially, secretly disposing of hidden vampires. His close companion Joshua Speed (Jimmi Simpson) aids him on his otherworldly mission. Jefferson Davis recruits the undead to the Confederate Army. The tragic 1862 death of Willie Lincoln is given a fresh spin.

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“Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” is not the most cinematic of books. If Seth Grahame-Smith‘s novel was a completely faithful adaptation, it’d make for a ten-hour movie. In its translation to the big screen, the story has been stripped down to a two-hour, atmospheric, and violent 3D actioner. The director who took on the challenge of bringing Smith’s tonally tricky novel is Timur Bekmambetov, the filmmaker behind Night Watch, Day Watch, and Wanted. Like his previous films, Bekmambetov once again blends both fantasy and reality with his Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. He plays with more than a few fantastical and silly ideas, but always keeps them attached to the real world. This time around, though, Bekmambetov gets to capture that style of his with 3D. Here is what Timur Bekmambetov had to say about the power of 3D, how free dreaming and character informs his visuals, and why Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is his Dusk Watch:

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Benjamin Walker in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Poor ‘lil Stevie Spielberg. Come Oscar season he may have a tough act to follow with his Daniel Day Lewis-starring Lincoln pic, the one which probably won’t feature Lincoln’s finest achievements: chopping off vampire heads, marrying Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and getting Anthony Mackie to somehow be your sidekick. All in all, that’s quite the life, as this bloody red band trailer for Timur Bekmambetov‘s Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter shows. Check out Abraham Lincoln acting like a “mad man”:

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Dark Shadows and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter don’t fit the bill of your average summer blockbuster. An adaptation of a slightly obscure soap opera about a vampire? We don’t see those often enough in the summer season. A hard-R actioner featuring one of our greatest presidents shredding vampires to bits? That’s another unheard of type summer tentpole. Although Tim Burton and Johnny Depp’s names alone can create money out of thin air, Dark Shadows is not the sort of film we often see as a May release, and the same goes for June’s Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. The man partly responsible for these two going-against-the-norm pictures is author/screenwriter Seth Grahame-Smith. Grahame-Smith had to tackle some difficult tasks when it came to making these two projects – like making an accessible Dark Shadows film and adapting his own epic and tonally tricky novel, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Here’s what Seth Grahame-Smith had to say about writing for the screen, the soap-operatic tone of Dark Shadows, and the straight-faced badassery of Abraham Lincoln slaying vampires:

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Unlike our own Kate Erbland, I don’t loathe Seth Grahame-Smith‘s writing with every fiber of my body. In fact, I quite like Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, a book that’s less tongue-in-cheek than you’d expect. Tonally, it’s challenging material. And based on this first trailer for the book’s cinematic adaptation, it’s slightly difficult to tell which way the film’s going to go. This could either be another Van Helsing or (probably) something we haven’t quite seen before. If one thing’s for sure, director Timur Bekmambetov has nailed the atmosphere of the book. The director’s got a great eye, so it’s no surprise this trailer has visual ass-kicking going for it. Take a look at Abe kicking some unholy arse:

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Never let it be said that director Alex Proyas didn’t have a tremendous vision for his big screen adaptation of John Milton’s epic poem of the same name, but that same ambition appears to be what has sunk Paradise Lost for good. Reports are now coming in from various outlets that the project, with a huge budget that already exceeded $120m and a vision that included technology that, as Variety’s Jeff Sneider puts it, “wasn’t there,” has been killed by Legendary Pictures. Proyas was hired for the gig back in September of 2010 and, since then, had gathered an impressive and up-and-coming cast for the epic tale of angelic battles, including Bradley Cooper, Benjamin Walker, Casey Affleck, Djimon Hounsou, Diego González Boneta, and Camilla Belle. The film’s shooting schedule was already moved from January to early this summer, but that’s all moot now that the film has been scrapped entirely.

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When it was first announced that Dark City director Alex Proyas was doing an adaptation of the epic John Milton poem “Paradise Lost”, it was rumored that he would be turning the work into an action movie. That seemed a little ridiculous, as “Paradise Lost” is mostly known as a dry, academic tome that students dread slogging through, and while he’s made movies with strong action elements before like The Crow, Proyas usually sticks to headier conceits than big battle sequences. Surely it can’t be true that Proyas is involving himself with something being described as 300 meets Lord of the Rings, is he? After talking to Deadline Hebron, the director has made the nature of this project a bit more clear. “It’s not just armies battling in an epic war,” says Proyas. “This is an adventure about the origins of good and evil after Lucifer‘s rebellion gets him cast out of Heaven and leads to a struggle with his brother archangel over the soul of mankind, starting with Adam and Eve. That is the scope of the narrative here, and we’ve tried to say as faithful as possible to Milton’s text, particularly its focus on Lucifer’s evolution and the birth of evil.” He goes on to say that, “It’s a family saga, about a group of brothers, two in particular, who are on divergent paths, and Lucifer’s feelings of betrayal by his father and family that forge his descent into evil.” If that’s the case, then it seems that […]

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The Week That Was

With every week that passes, it feels like things just keep getting better and better around here. It’s becoming increasingly easy to put this very column together. New writers and very soon, we’ll have some new columns to tout. There’s a reason why the tagline “The Cure for the Common Movie Blog” now graces our homepage. Because if we’re anything around here, it’s uncommon. And you can find out why with the links that I’ve strategically placed after the jump. It’s all part of a little game I like to call The Week That Was.

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Before Seth Grahame-Smith’s groundbreaking biography “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” became all of the rage, the world was tragically clueless about the undead-destroying exploits of our 16th president. American school children are taught about the Emancipation Proclamation, they memorize lines from the Gettysburg Address; but they tragically never understand why. Just like elementary classrooms are reticent to include Chomsky in their standard curriculums, they have also shown to be reluctant to reveal to grade-schoolers the unfortunate reality that vampires are real, and that their blood sucking atrocities had a profound effect on the development and presidency of one of our greatest leaders. Fortunately, Hollywood is not as chained to the whims of conservative fundamentalist groups as our nation’s textbook makers are. So, Russian director Timur Bekmambetov has been tapped to direct a big screen adaptation of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. You may know Bekmambetov as the director of the Night Watch and Day Watch vampire franchise already, and if you don’t then clearly you haven’t been paying enough attention to vampires. It’s a wonder you still have all of your blood. Long have they searched for the perfect actor to portray Lincoln in this epic tale; one that spans the president’s life from ages 20 to 55. Many have tested, and many have failed. In the end, all of their efforts have come down to one man: some guy. That guy is actor Benjamin Walker. You may recognize him from such films as Flags of Our Fathers and Kinsey, but chances […]

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