2012 saw the release of 2 Abraham Lincoln movies: Lincoln, the Academy Awards darling directed by Steven Spielberg, and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (ALVH), a goofy action film directed by Timur Bekmambetov. The films are not in the same league – comparing them is like reflecting on Schindler’s List to Hogan’s Heroes.
But I am going to anyway in a variety of totally made-up and subjective categories.
CAST – Lincoln (All-stars in Spielberg; no one is all that great in ALVH)
SURPRISING SMALL PART – Lincoln (The return of James Spader)
SURPRISING CAMEO – ALVH (Alan Tudyk uncredited as Stephen A. Douglas)
POLITICS – Lincoln (but could have used some Walk and Talk like The West Wing)
WEAPON OF CHOICE – ALVH (Axe beats words)
ROLE OF WOMEN – ALVH (Mary Todd Lincoln much more sympathetic here)
ROLE OF BLACK CHARACTERS – ALVH (In Lincoln, African Americans do very little. In ALVH, they are essential lead characters)
MORAL – Tied (Slavery is bad; Vampires are bad – both good lessons)
HISTORICAL VERACTIY – Tied (Both play a little fast and loose with history. Okay, one does it a little more)
TEACHING TOOL – Tied (ALVH does play well with much history that uncovering “fact” and “vampire hunter” might be fun)
ACTION – ALVH (The action sequences are well done. Lincoln needed a good giant boulder or a flying bicycle)
CIVIL WAR – ALVH (Much more battle footage)
FORD’s THEATER – Tied (both end with allusions to the inevitable, but don’t portray it)
FUNNY WIGS and HAIR – Lincoln (Men looked silly back then)
REVIEWS – Lincoln (Rotten Tomatoes has 25% positive from top critics for ALVH, 95% for Lincoln)
BOX OFFICE – Lincoln (Lincoln $109 million so far, ALVH $37 million)
Totals: Lincoln 8, ALVH 6, Tied 5
The films are very different genres, but both work within their mode. I wished Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter was a bit more quality and bit more interesting. I wished Lincoln was at a slightly faster pace and worked a little more business and action into the extended politics.
That said, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter gets a mild thumbs up. Lincoln has a shot of making my top 10, will certainly get a ton of Oscar nominations, and Daniel Day-Lewis absolutely should win best actor.