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Movie Review: Proclamation of Fun

"Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" is a Good Time.

First off, I enjoyed Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. I left my historical expectations at home and went to the Cinemark Louis Joliet Mall with a completely open mind — and terrified (as always) that I’d be unable to find a unique angle to this week’s review.

I walked in to the theater with these standard fears, looked left and saw an Abe Lincoln impersonator — complete with top hat — sitting a few rows in front of my usual perch in the back row (I sit there so I can take notes on my mobile device and not disrupt other patrons). I did talk to the lanky man from Illinois, the transcript of which follows after a synopsis.

First of all, at $12.25 (I saw it in 3D), this was the most expensive ticket I’ve purchased since I started reviewing. However, the 3D glasses came in hand over the rest of the weekend, which I spent refurbishing a bathroom — the glasses served as competent goggles for tedious tile removal.

Our 16th president, working as a lowly grocer in Springfield, becomes aware that the burgeoning U.S. could be compromised by a killer strand of vampires. Honest Abe learns how to battle these beasts, at one point swinging an axe like Ted Williams hammering a homer at Fenway Park.

His ghostbusting exploits continue through his years at the White House, and the vampiric elimination follows Lincoln to the battlefield at Gettysburg, where a couple nasties almost prevent him from delivering a last-minute delivery of silver to the Union troops. The battle there owes a lot to Braveheart, with lines of troops battling stray bullets and felled soldiers.

The 3D here is great, with director Timur Bekmambetov extending the possibilities of that medium by focusing on doorways, sparks and a breathtaking horse stampede-chase sequence.

Abe and I discussed the movie afterward:

DW: So what did you think?

AL: I thought it was entertaining, a little bit ridiculous ...

DW: What was ridiculous?

AL: Vampires in the USA. We all know that vampires live in Europe.

DW: OK, so it’s a geographical thing ...

AL: Mostly.

DW: What did you think of the action and the 3D?

AL: Actually The 3D was very fun with the effects and the 3D, some fun parts with the action and the fighting.

DW: What was your favorite part?

AL: It may have been the horses ...

DW: That was a good scene, wasn’t it? All right so people have been waiting 150 years, what did you think of the play?

AL: Of the play?

DW: The night you actually went down, unfortunately ...

AL:  Well, I didn’t really see enough, I don’t remember, something happened to my head, unfortunately.

Quotable moments

“I have killed six vampires” — Abe to Mary Todd.

Other observations at the moviehouse

Excitement at your feet

The Who finally come to a theater near us on July 24, including the Cinemark Louis Joliet Cinema, for a documentary on Quadrophenia, the 1973 album so epically great that it transcends rock to stand on the podium as one of the 20th century’s three greatest artistic achievements.* It’s brought to us by Fathom Events, the company that's delivered the fine arts fare on the big screen for as long as I’ve been reviewing.

Quadrophenia is rock’s greatest pinnacle — a coming-of age-story set in London, a storyline involving angst, confusion, amphetamines and the loss of trust in a leader, told by the most powerful band at its greatest precipice. It’s a “steamhammer” of a band, as Pete Townshend says, driven by the greatest drummer music has known (Keith Moon, who sings a joyfully Cockney “Bell Boy” on the album, hopefully included here), its angriest singer (Roger Daltrey, who I actually met and who clocked Townshend so hard he sent him to the hospital right before the American “Quadrophenia” tour), the virtuosic multi-instrumentalist bassist Jon Entwistle (“He changed the F***ing instrument!” Townshend said in another recent documentary) , and Townshend, the high-flying master of the six string and the rock genre’s greatest storyteller.

*The other two, and I’ll argue this with any lit prof or art historian (and have):

  • F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby,” also coming to a theater near you this winter; themes of isolation and existentialism still ring true today;
  • Picasso’s Guernica, epitomizing the horror and insanity of war, also still ringing true today.

Coming Soon

  • From my notes: Haunted house + makeout + underwear = The House at the End of the Street, coming this fall.
  • More from my notes: Pulp Fiction + Roots = Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained.
  • Once again, the theater on Friday night was sliced by the unmistakable waft of turkey. Who eats that bird in the middle of summer? Well, someone in Joliet, apparently.

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