The Tall Guy

The problem, of course, with the forthcoming production of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is that while Tim Burton is producing (a good thing), the director is Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted). I don’t have to explain why if you’ve seen Wanted. Bekmambetov’s creative DNA is coarse, to put it mildly. His instincts are to go extreme comic-book steroid. He’s going to turn early 1860s Washington into a lurid pulp thing. It’s going to be bad, bad, worse than bad.

The way to do this film right is to shoot it in the style of John Ford‘s Young Mr. Lincoln. Well, almost. But you have to believe, really believe, in Honest Abe’s determination to exterminate vampires. You know…like a deceptively sly jack-legged Illinois attorney would. A joke-telling guy with a pipey voice, but with plenty of sharp stakes in his satchel and possessed of a steely resolve.

  • Ray DeRousse

    I’m becoming cranky about films like this. How long can the visual joke of Abe killing zombies last before it becomes tiresome? Pointless crap like this and Pride And Prejudice And Zombies have only one cool thing going for them – their titles.

  • crazynine

    Last summer the GF picked up the audio book version of this for a road trip. While I openly acknowledge that audio books are probably the worst of all media… I don’t think we lasted more than a hundred miles with this one.

    It’s not *bad*– they play it completely serious– it was just boring.

  • sumo-pop

    Timur Bekmambetov is highly skilled from a technical point of view, but if Wanted was anything other than a “I’ll give them what they want so I can get my foot in the door and then do what I want” movie, then this project is fucked.

  • LexG

    Jeff’s been hating on Wanted for 2.5 years now, but that opening 20 minutes or so depicting McAvoy’s life as a put-upon henpecked office drone is the most accurate depiction of the crushing emasculation of American male sadsack anonymity I can think of– even moreso than Fight Club or Office Space. Maybe to “get” the kinetic charge of the movie once it kicks in, you have to truly understand self-hatred and wanting to rise up from being a sucker to being a god, but its narrative is empowering to a certain breed of invisible, soul-deadened cubicle drone.

    Plus I can’t believe a fellow misanthrope like Jeff can’t appreciate a movie where the protagonist actively tells its low-rent audience what a bunch of do-nothing failures they are in the narration. That was awesome.

  • sumo-pop

    I don’t know, Lex. When McAvoy hits his friend in the face with a his PC keyboard and the words fly off and spell “fuck you” on the screen, I was ready to run for the hills. I get what you’re saying about the self loathing part. But the messenger was way too shallow for me to accept that they were going for something deeper. Fight Club and Office Space are way more thoughtful, and comparatively–god knows, subtle. I will cede to anyone the technical bravura that it took to pull off the train sequence. But unfortunately it was at the service of a completely vaccuous film. In a way, I find it more offensive than crap like Saw. At least Saw doesn’t pretend to be anything other than what it is.

  • Ray DeRousse

    Films like Wanted and Speed Racer and Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World and all of the other comic book adaptations out there make the same mistake: they try to literally translate the look of a cartoon.

    Comic books and films are two distinct mediums, each with their own language and shortcomings. What works in an illustration as an abstraction or a story shorthand looks dumb onscreen.

    For instance, the keyboard letters mentioned by Lex/Sumo-pop probably distilled the rage quite well on the page, but in the film it came off as snarky and dumb and over-the-top.

  • Mgmax, le Corbeau

    Not since Abe & the Babe has there been a Lincoln on screen like this.

  • Rashad

    Ray,: Speed Racer was nothing like the cartoon visually. Most adaptations stray away from the looks of the comics and make you wonder why they even adapted them in the first place. Sin City and 300 are two of the best looking films of the decade, and they stayed true to the art in which they were based.

  • wester

    I am an unabashed fan of Wanted… I think it accurately reflects what a self-centered egotistical assholish fantasy the superhero fantasy is. I think the hyperstylization actually enhances all of it… it doesn’t even know how despicible its main character is or how deplorable the values it represents are which only makes its clueless blumberings sort-of endearing to me. Like an angry teenager who doesn’t know why he’s so angry, but just keeps screaming… it’s silly and fun and I totally get where it’s coming from. It is such an odd, fascinating, amoral movie with absolutely no nutritional value and films like it should be embraced for their audacity even if all the energy is put into exactly the wrong place. Also, no one brings this up, but it had AN ACTUAL THIRD ACT whose action scene topped other action scenes… that was so nice and refreshing after what seems like every action/comic book film’s lackluster third act since Phatnom Menace.

  • wester

    god, I never feel more like Armond White than when I defend Wanted.

  • moviechick44

    I am right in the middle of the book as I write this. So far so good. Interesting. Surprisingly original.

  • Ray DeRousse

    @ Rashad – I wouldn’t say Speed Racer was NOTHING like the cartoon on which it was based. The Wachowskis definitely called back and imitated several iconic visual cues from the series.

  • le corbeau

    Not since Abe & the Babe has there been a Lincoln on screen like this.

  • MechanicalShark

    I don’t understand what’s wrong with that, Ray. To me, it’s really cool. Although, Wanted was pretty retarded. But Speed Racer was an awesome experiment, probably far more radical and interesting than most of the stuff coming out of the experimental film community.

    Scott Pilgrim wasn’t as radical an experiment, but it managed to maintain a more consistent tone, and offer a less archetypal story, that is, a girly man learning what it takes to be a real man and maintain a serious relationship.

  • nbxzero

    I’m another fan of Wanted. I’ve watched it a bunch of times and it’s always entertaining.

  • Ray DeRousse

    @ MechanicalShark – Nothing WRONG with it, per se, but I think it’s somewhat distracting to the flow of a film because it screams PHONY every time it happens. There is such a thing as having too much style in a film.

  • Edward

    I love horror; books, films…But this is too much. Maybe I’m just grumpier about films as I get older. Maybe I’m still pissed I didn’t get cast as Felix in a production of the Odd Couple. Or maybe I’m pissed, because I didn’t think of this!