Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (July 7/12)
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter follows the title character (Benjamin Walker) as he discovers that vampires are planning to take over the United States (and are, in fact, responsible for the death of his beloved mother), with the movie subsequently detailing Lincoln's progression from fledgling assassin to vampire-killing politician. It's an admittedly (and blatantly) ridiculous premise that's employed to surprisingly watchable effect at the outset, with Walker's strong performance initially compensating for the less-than-accomplished special effects and for Timur Bekmambetov's consistently wrongheaded directorial choices. (Bekmambetov's ineptness is especially problematic during the movie's action-oriented sequences, as the filmmaker suffuses such moments with a myriad of momentum-killing tricks - including handheld camerawork and an overuse of slow motion.) It's clear, too, that the movie benefits substantially from the chemistry between Lincoln and his mentor, Dominic Cooper's Henry, and there's little doubt that the film is, generally speaking, at its best during the pair's irresistibly over-the-top training sessions. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter doesn't begin to palpably begin to wear out its welcome until somewhere around the halfway mark, as the comparatively low-key nature of the protagonist's exploits are jettisoned in favor of an increasingly (and incongruously) epic story involving vampires in the Civil War. It's tedious stuff that results in a progressively stagnant atmosphere; once the movie rolls into its overblown, special-effects heavy, and flat-out interminable climax, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter has finally established itself as a missed opportunity that's rarely, if ever, as much fun as its title might've indicated.