In addition to showing off their footage (and a new trailer!) for Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, 20th Century Fox also premiered some new footage for producer Tim Burton and director Timur Bekmambetov’s (Wanted) Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Part of the new footage was this recently released trailer (Mr. Lincoln, you had me at “gun-axe”). But they also showed an extended section of a big action set piece that featured all the principal cast, Bekmambetov’s signature action style and a helluva good fight. Unfortunately, Burton could not be present because he was gravely ill, but did check-in via satellite in a delightfully Burtonesque clip. Details after the jump.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, starring Benjamin Walker, Rufus Sewell, and Anthony Mackie opens in 3D on June 22nd. Hit the jump for more from the presentation.
The panel kicked off with a very bizarre clip featuring a dessicated (and obviously fake) corpse speaking from a hospital bed. Apparently, this was meant to be a very ill Tim Burton, who was presided over by two attractive nurses and a doctor who preached holistic medicine. After a very strange sequence of events which tried to revive Mr. Burton (and failed), we got on with the show. Author/screenwriter Seth Grahame-Smith moderated the panel which included Bekmambetov and Walker. While the previous trailers hadn’t entirely convinced me to see the film, the following action sequence definitely did, but skip the next paragraph if you’d like to avoid spoilers.
The big action sequence in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter follows our titular hero (Walker) and Will Johnson (Mackie) as they’re defending a speeding train from attacking vampires. Any fan of Bekmambetov’s Night Watch and/or Wanted will instantly recognize the director’s signature style as there is a lot of it on display in this sequence. There is also a lot of axe-play (yes, axe-play) in this scene as not only Lincoln uses it to dispatch the undead, but Johnson does as well. The duo works together to put down vamp after vamp until the big bad shows up: Adam (Sewell), Chief of the Vampires. As the train is steaming towards a bridge set ablaze, Adam appears to be too much for our heroes, who jump from the falling train.
Yeah, that definitely made me want to go see this flick, which is promising to be heavy on action and axe-play. Walker looks completely badass when he’s swinging the two-hander around, lopping off undead heads left and right. It makes me want to see a revisionist write-up of American history with this Lincoln in place of the historically accurate one. Although, as the lights come back up and the panel discussion begins, Walker and Grahame-Smith do comment on the surprising accuracy of the film. I’ve outlined their responses below:
- When asked about how Grahame-Smith, who wrote the source novel, came up with the idea of combining Abraham Lincoln and vampire hunting, he commented that he just gets really drunk by himself and throws darts at a wall until he hits two words that are completely unrelated. In actuality, he said that the idea came from a book tour he was on for his novel, “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.” Since it was during Lincoln’s 200th birthday, book stores had Lincoln biographies on display…right next to displays of the Twilight novels. This led him to research Lincoln and discovered the man’s actual “superheroic” origins.
- Walker commented on the Gothic tone of the film, which was strangely historically accurate (mentioning the unexplained death of Lincoln’s mother), calling it a “period Lincoln movie that just happens to have vampires in it.” In a great quote from Walker regarding playing Lincoln, he called it “badass; it’s an honor as an American. I want to know that my leaders are strong and can make tough decisions…and cut some heads off.”
- Bekmambetov, Grahame-Smith and Walker all talked about Burton’s support in wanting to take an aggressive, all-out approach on the film. Bekmambetov also said that while they changed some things from the book, the tone of the novel and the structure around Lincoln’s life is still present.
- Grahame-Smith did extensive research into Lincoln’s life and a lot of his book is in the movie. Some things they added were Adam, the Chief of all Vampires (Sewell); William Johnson (Mackie), who was an actual aide of Lincoln’s who traveled with him to Washington, D.C.; and the kick-ass train sequence mentioned above.
- On vampire comparisons, Grahame-Smith said the following: “I’m not a Twilight-hater, but I’ll say this…our vampires don’t sparkle.” He also guaranteed that Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter will be the only movie this summer to feature a president killing vampires.
- Bekmambetov also joked that it’s important to note they’re releasing this movie on the shortest night of the year. They worked hard to ground the vampires in reality, noting that the vampires could be seen outside since sunscreen was invented in the 19th century.
- When asked if President Obama would make a good vampire slayer, Grahame-Smith responded coyly that “he’s tall, he’s athletic” and could be okay. Walker had the best answer when asked what Obama’s weapon of choice against vampires would be: “Diplomacy. Maybe email.”
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter looks like an awesome action movie with a Gothic horror slant and a touch of history thrown in. Walker looks absolutely imposing as our 16th president and is entirely believable in the fight sequences. While it’s important not to take this movie too seriously (obviously), it could easily be the biggest surprise of the summer. I’ll say it again: gun-axe.
Here’s the official synopsis for Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter:
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter explores the secret life of our greatest President, and the untold story that shaped our nation. Visionary filmmakers Tim Burton and Timur Bekmambetov (director of Wanted) bring a fresh and visceral voice to the blood-thirsty lore of the vampire, imagining Lincoln as history’s greatest hunter of the undead.
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