I never watch a trailer until after I’ve seen the movie, and I also attempt to avoid as much news as possible. Then I compare what I knew, to what you knew. Let’s find out if what we see in the trailer is what we get, and if there is any advantage to going in fresh. (There will be spoilers.)
What I Knew Before: One of these things is not like the other, one of these things is not the same. I think that is a song from Sesame Street, but it applies here. Our 16th President and vampires have nothing to do with each other, or do they? I knew this premise and not a whole lot more. I actually didn't know any of the actors or who directed it. I assumed this would be a young Lincoln, as in, the story before he became the Lincoln we know. I also figured there had to be a lot of tongue-in-cheek moments involving Lincoln's life and how it was secretly influences by blood suckers. For the record, I kept wanting to call this film Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer. Thanks a lot, Buffy.
What I Knew After: It's stupid. It's also stupid fun (some of the time). I am a little shocked Lincoln's entire timeline is in the film. It's not just a young Lincoln we are dealing with. It's even stranger that there is barely a laugh through all of the historic nods. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter loves to mention the basic things we know about Lincoln, but it's never for a laugh. They constantly play moments for slow, heavy drama amid the action sequences. Actor Benjamin Walker plays Lincoln, and when he's the young one, he looks most like Liam Neeson. So it's sad that Steven Spielberg didn't get Neeson for his Lincoln biopic, but I hear this Daniel Day-Lewis guy is pretty good. My hunch with the trailer is that they focus on the crazy action, and what better way to show it than the training montage?
What You Knew: Johnny Cash starts us off as we fly over the Washington Monmument, and then ON SCREEN: FROM PRODUCER TIM BURTON. You mean the same guy who made us sit through the boring Dark Shadows? Sweet. Lincoln is giving us a speech about what history prefers. If it actually was what "history prefers" we wouldn't even have vampires in this flick. ON SCREEN: FROM THE DIRECTOR OF WANTED TIMUR BEKMAMBETOV. Did you forget about Wanted? I sure did. There are a few surprises like showing The Civil War in this mash up. Lincoln's talking about a time before his presidency, and then it's some big time action. There's darkness everywhere and we've got a dead mother. After that it's time for a very powerful silver ax and Lincoln is twirling it around like a third leg. Then we've got vampire soldiers, and lots and lots of action (some with Matrix moves). "Only the living call kill the dead." OK, that's some vampire munbo jumbo, then Linocln's ax is a gun and kills someone. The kicker? Another kill scene from Lincoln and then this, ON SCREEN: ARE YOU A PATRIOT OR A VAMPIRE? That's the question I ask myself every day. Every day.
I'm really shocked they play it straight. Sure, they still bring up Lincoln being honest, but it's not with much of a wink or room to laugh. The look of the movie is pretty great, and the action sequences are impressive. I didn't need Lincoln. It never seems worth it. The trailer does give a way a little too much. Then again, I would ideally like a trailer to flash some sort of warning like, "Don't worry! This action sequence we are showing you isn't the final scene!" The burning train tracks are part of the climatic third act and they go a little overboard in showcasing that sequence. What's worse is showing that the ax is also a gun. That's meant to be a surprise in the film, and the makers of the trailer should have kept it that way. I'm actually curious. Was anybody like, "You had me at Linoln hunting vampires, but impossible karate moves are just too much"? There is a tipping point to what people will accept in a crazy concept. I wonder if that is it. The trailer gives you a glimpse of the film, but fails to show you that Lincoln still has time for earnest stump speeches throughout the second half of the film. You've been warned.