Musings on the first trailer of the new Ben-Hur (2016)

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Most of you who’ve read my blog for a while knows I’m a huge fan of the 1959 Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ. I’ve listed it as one of the films that have defined me and one of my three favorite Oscar-winning films of all time. That epic masterpiece that won the most awards in its time (11 wins out of 12 noms) was actually a remake of the 1925 silent film. I always think that like Gone with the Wind, Casablanca, etc., Ben-Hur is one of those classics that ought not get remade. Alas, nothing is sacred anymore these days so we shouldn’t be surprised that nearly 60 years later, we get yet another cinematic adaptation based on Lew Wallace’s timeless novel, Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ.

Behold the trailer…

 

BEN-HUR is the epic story of Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston), a prince falsely accused of treason by his adopted brother Messala (Toby Kebbell), an officer in the Roman army.  Stripped of his title, separated from his family and the woman he loves (Nazanin Boniadi), Judah is forced into slavery.  After years at sea, Judah returns to his homeland to seek revenge, but finds redemption.

Initial impressions

The way the trailer’s cut now didn’t exactly scream epic in terms of compelling narrative and emotional gratification. Given the pedigree of the director, whose Hollywood films so far seem to be more effects-driven than anything else, this trailer certainly showcase that. Yes so at the time, the 1959 Ben-Hur was marketed as an epic that offered a spectacle like no other, and that chariot race scene alone is a reason to see it on the biggest screen possible. Even as I saw it decades later, when special effects had improved significantly, that chariot scene still left me breathless and it remained one of the most incredible scene to pull off even by today’s standard. But yet, the film was far more than just the spectacle and what stays with me more is the story, it’s the protagonist’s journey and transformation (more of that later). I suppose with 3.5 hours running time, the 1959 version could go into more depth with the story and there are richer, more complex narrative that involve more than just Ben-Hur vs Messala.

So far my impression is meh, in fact someone remarked on Twitter that this is ‘Fast and Furious: Jerusalem Drift‘ and I don’t blame them for thinking that. I mean the blaring music is so generic and has no majestic vibe at all, and way too much screaming and laden with banal dialog. But y’know what, instead of just brushing it off, I thought I’d offer some of my thoughts about some of the elements of the movie.

The cast

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Heston was so 50-years ago, we now have Huston as the new Jewish prince Judah Ben-Hur. Ok I have to admit I was inspired by this great opening line from EW.com. Jack Huston sure has quite a Hollywood pedigree – grandson of acclaimed filmmaker John Huston and nephew of Anjelica Huston, but whether or not he could step into Charlton Heston’s shoes, er sandals remains to be seen. Now, though I think Heston was great in the role that won him an Oscar for Best Actor, he’s not exactly the most expressive actor. What Heston did have in abundance is screen presence, and I’m curious to see how Huston fares in that regard in his first leading role in a big-budget film. Huston is not a household name yet but I’ve seen him in three films so far, American Hustle, Night Train to Lisbon, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which showed he’s a pretty versatile actor. He certainly looked more Jewish-looking, for a lack of a better word, with dark hair and dark eyes, than Heston was, though one could argue blond, blue-eyed Jews do exist.

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Morgan Freeman is the most recognizable face here as Sheik Ilderim and he naturally adds gravitas to the production. I do have a soft spot for British actor Hugh Griffith in the 1959 version though, as he didn’t take himself so seriously. He’s more of an ally than a mentor too, so it seems they’re more of equal footing in their relationship. Plus Freeman’s dreadlocks is distracting, it’s like something out of Battlefield Earth, did they just have their discarded wig or something?? It’ll be hard not to burst out laughing every time he’s on screen now, come on man, you’re supposed to add dignity not comic relief!

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Toby Kebbell seems type cast as a villain now. He’s just played Koba in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Doctor Doom in the um, doomed Fantastic Four movie, and now Messala. Again, I LOVE Stephen Boyd who had a great chemistry with Heston as both friend and foe. I can’t say I’m feelin’ it with these two, but then again they’ve got mundane dialog like ‘Are we having fun now brother?‘ which seems to be inspired by another sword ‘n sandal epic Gladiator‘s famous line ‘Are you not entertained?‘ but folks, it’s all in the delivery and Kebbell ain’t no Russell Crowe. That said, I also think he’s a good actor from some movies I’ve seen him in, most notably Rocknrolla, War Horse and Control.

The director

So I think the cast might turn out to be ok, but what worries me most is the director, Russian filmmaker w/ the unpronounceable name, Timur Bekmambetov. Now, I’ve seen two of his previous movies, Wanted and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. I’ve enjoyed both in varying degrees, but he’s not exactly the name who’d be in my wish list if I were asked who I’d want to direct an epic sword & sandals masterpiece. For one thing, his films seems to be very CGI-laden, and from this trailer it looks pretty effects-heavy. Heh, I was hoping what Jack said at the IGN comic-con interview (promoting PPZ movie) were true, as he said there’ll be more practical effects and he had spent four months ‘doing everything for real’ which sounds really promising.

The core theme of the story

Now there’s the treatment of the Christ story, which is pivotal in the book, I mean the tagline IS ‘a tale of the Christ’ after all. Apparently Rodrigo Santoro is playing Jesus Christ here, as there’s a snippet of the crucifixion scene. I read that Jesus is given a bigger character arc this time around, and whilst that is a wonderful thing in my book it also worries me a little. What I love about the William Wyler version is the subtle-yet-powerful depiction of Christ whose face was never shown on film. The impact of his being was conveyed through the characters who encounter him in the film, i.e. the Roman soldier who wanted to reprimand him for giving water to Judah.

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It’s mysterious and mystical, and the faceless character had such gravitas that it’s unforgettable, especially the moment he gave Ben-Hur water when he’s chained as a slave. That scene is one of my all time favorite cinematic scenes that I could watch over and over. What the 1959 version did beautifully was that it showed how Judah’s and Jesus’ lives intersect, and the parallel of how the two men were charged and punished for a crime they didn’t commit. But in the end it was more of a story of redemption than a tale of vengeance, a theme that perhaps isn’t as cool or even marketable, but for me it leaves a much more lasting impression.

Interestingly, Bekmambetov actually said in an interview (per IMDb trivia) that he thought the 1959 version was more about revenge. Huh? Did he not stay until the end of the film?? Judah’s last line was not at all subtle about his own redemption.

Judah Ben-Hur: Almost at the moment He died, I heard Him say, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Esther: Even then.

Judah Ben-Hur: Even then. And I felt His voice take the sword out of my hand.

He went on to say that wanted to focus more on the forgiveness aspect of the story, he said ‘…humanity has to learn how to love and forgive.’ Well, I sure hope what he aspired to do w/ the story will actually transpire in the final film, as I’m not seeing that in this trailer. At the very least I’m hoping that the Jesus’ story be handled respectfully and that the themes of love and compassion in Lew Wallace’s novel isn’t love amidst the CGI-fest spectacle.

One last thing, I find it odd to see Judah falling from his chariot and held on to his horses, how’s he going to get back up to the chariot and win the race?? I guess we’ll find out when the movie is out on August 12, 2016.


Well, that’s my thoughts. Now, what do YOU think about the first Ben-Hur trailer?

….

Everybody’s Chattin’ + Question of the Week on Tom Hiddleston as Ben Hur

Happy Friday everybody! I’m going to hit two birds with one stone again today in combining two post *series* in one.

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Ok, so let’s start with some of my favorite posts from the past week:

  • RIP_RobinWilliamsIt’s been quite a very sad week for film fans… we lost two beloved actors within days of each other. I’m still reeling from Robin Williams‘ sudden passing, which is very tragic indeed. It’s nice to see people’s outpouring of tributes to the comic genius whose lives have been touched by a certain role he did throughout his illustrious career:
    Alex did an In Character post, Andrew and Steven paid tribute listing their favorite roles, Kristin highlights a wonderful scene from his Oscar-winning role Good Will Hunting, and Mark took a break from blogging hiatus to dedicate a Trivia Tribute filled with interesting tidbits. Lastly, Dan posted Top 10 Films of the late actor, whilst Nostra made a Many Faces Of post which illustrates his amazing versatility.
  • RIPLaurenBacallThis week we also lost a beloved classic actress Lauren Bacall. I wish I had seen more of her work, so far I have only seen her in Designing Woman. Well, Keith wrote a lovely tribute filled with beautiful photos and lots of recommendations on her work.
  • On a more cheerful note, Lady Sati shone a spotlight on rising star Chris Pratt, whilst Terrence posted a bunch of new trailers to get excited about some upcoming releases.
  • Michael highlighted a favorite scene from one of my favorite sci-fi movies The Abyss, Mark reviewed a neo noir crime drama Cold in July, whilst Tom ventured out of his comfort zone by watching the period drama Belle, bravo Tom! 😀
  • Tyson‘s been back blogging again and posted some of the Desert Island Classic posts. This time it’s Abbi‘s turn to pick which movies she’d take when she’s stranded.
  • Josh posted his 1971 CinSpec Awards, apparently a great year for movies and I like how The French Connection got plenty of mentions. Meanwhile, Rodney reviewed Transcendence which I still hasn’t got time to check out, and Eric reviewed Sideways, the 2004 dark comedy by Alexander Payne as part of his annual 50 Movie Project.
  • Last but not least, my pal Raul wrote a piece on the Film Inquiry site about Steve McQueen’s Trifecta. Of course we’re talking about the British director, not the classic actor 😀

Now for Question of the Week!

A whole bunch of tweets and casting news have been circulating lately that Tom Hiddleston is wanted for the leading role in the upcoming Ben-Hur adaptation. Now, as a fan of the 1959 film with Charlton Heston, which is actually a remake of a silent 1925 film, I wasn’t immediately keen on this project. Now, I LOVE Biblical epics but it seems that the trend in Hollywood is to forgo the source material and only use the character/story as a base to launch something else entirely *cough* Noah *cough.* You can read my thoughts about Biblical screen adaptations here.

But you know what, the casting of Hiddleston did pique my interest. It’s not final yet but I really hope he’d do it. I think the classically-trained actor would be wonderful in the role. We all know he’s got screen charisma and surely he could play a hero as well as he did a villain.

Hiddles as Coriolanus at Donmar Warehouse, London
Hiddles as Coriolanus at Donmar Warehouse, London

I’m slightly more hopeful about this project as according to Collider, this film will heavily incorporate the story of Jesus Christ from the book (Lew Wallace’s novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ), which runs parallel to the actions of Judah Ben-Hur throughout the film. What I LOVE about the 1959 film is the spirituality aspect, and the portrayal of Christ is subtle but powerful. In fact, it’s far more affecting than the entire film of Son of God, which brings me to the interesting group of behind-the-scene talents.

We’ve got Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) set as director, with Keith Clarke (The Way Back) and John Ridley (12 Years a Slave) penning the script, AND Mark Burnett & Roma Downey, the pair behind The Bible miniseries & Son of God as producers. Heh I really don’t know what to make of this group. Bekmambetov isn’t the first name on my wish list for a project such as this, and Burnett & Downey’s Son Of God, despite their best intentions, lack a sense of mystique and grandeur that Christ’ story so deserved. So I guess I’m cautiously optimistic with this one. I’d think it’s still tough to top William Wyler Roman epic, even that chariot scene alone with incredible set pieces, thousands of extras and no CGI whatsoever was still one of the most amazing scenes ever filmed.

In any case, if Hiddles accepts this role, it’s already a plus on the casting front. Hopefully we’ll know in a few weeks if he says yay or nay to this. The film’s been scheduled for release on February 26th 2016.


So my question to you is:

What do you think of Tom Hiddleston as Ben-Hur? Thoughts on this project in general?

Weekend Roundup: Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter and Magic Mike review

This sweltering heat must be doing the cinemas some good as people want to cool off in the air-conditioned movie theaters. Whilst the last two weekends were dominated by movies targeted for kids (Brave, Madagascar 3), this time adults packed theaters to see two R-rated movies: Ted and Magic Mike. The former starring Mark Wahlberg and a foul-mouthed Teddy bear as his BFF earned a whopping $54 mil, which is the highest debut ever for an original R-rated comedy (per Box Office Mojo). With a budget of only $50 mil (half of it probably went to Wahlberg), it’s obviously a very profitable debut for Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane.

Here’s a review of a movie I saw last Friday night, and thanks to my colleague Susan M. for her review of one of her most-anticipated movie, Magic Mike.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

I’ve been curious about this movie from the first time I heard about the book of the same name by Seth Grahame-Smith. The author himself is adapting his novel into the movie, which tells the *secret* history of one of America’s most famous presidents, supposedly based on Lincoln’s own diaries of his um, nightly activities.

The story spans 45 years of Lincoln’s life, starting with him as a young boy working at a plantation. It shows that even from a young age, Abe’s got a certain fondness for the axe as he tried to defend his friend Wil who’s being beaten by his master, Jack Barts. This incident leads to Barts to poison Abe’s mother which of course sparks the vengeful spirit in him to kill as many vampires as he could.

Now, how does an ordinary man do that? Well, fortunately for Abe, there’s Henry Sturgess to the rescue when he tried to kill Barts years later and discovers that he’s a vampire. Sturgess not only saves Abe’s life but offers to train him to accomplish his mission, that is to kill as many vampire as he could. We’ll learn of Sturgess’ motivation soon enough, which comes at the same time Abe learns that his best friend too, is a vampire.

The fight training scenes are actually pretty cool and the movie lives up to the name swiftly as the fast-learner Abe soon gets to put that silver-coated axe to good use. Those vampire chopping stuff are done in Timur Bekmambetov’s slo-mo style (as you might’ve seen in Wanted) and they’re very, very bloody. The vampires aren’t sexy or cute like in True Blood or Twilight, they are freakish looking with their long and pointy teeth, just as we imagined these bloodsuckers to be.

Newcomer Benjamin Walker is quite believable in the lead role. The lanky 6’3″ 30-year-old certainly looks the part but he’s also instantly likable which helps the audience to sympathize with his character and his mission. He’s got a nice chemistry with Dominic Cooper as Sturgess and also his best friend Wil (Anthony Mackie), but less so with his love interest Mary Todd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). The romance isn’t convincing at all, but no matter, it’s not that kind of vampire movie. We see Timur’s movie for his spectacular fight choreography and on that note he delivers. Lincoln is portrayed as some sort of superhero battling a dozen of vampires in this Southern mansion and blood splatters and splashes everywhere as he masterfully wields his weapon of choice. As you know I’m not keen on horror or bloody sequences, but when done in such a stylized way, it sort of takes the edge off and it’s actually less scary.

Now, I’ve always thought the tone of the movie should’ve been more tongue-in-cheek just like what the title suggest, instead it’s more of a straight-laced adaptation and they tried to align the scenarios with actual historical events such as the Gettysburg address. Fortunately, it’s not completely devoid of whimsy and I think the movie overall is rather fun. Yes it’s silly and preposterous in more than one occasion but you’ve got to remind yourself that you are seeing a movie with a historical figure combined with ‘vampire hunter’ in the title, so logic-defying scenarios should be expected.

Still, there are scenes that are wildly ludicrous even for a historical fantasy, and the horse stampede scene immediately springs to mind. That scene involves a horse being thrown at Abe, yes you heard it right: A HORSE, in the midst of a huge stampede with dozens of horses charging forcefully and Barts actually throws the horse at him! Now, not only does Abe survives that, he proceeds to mount one of them (not sure if it’s that same one thrown at him or not as things are happening pretty fast) and rides the thing whilst wielding that ax at Barts in the process!! As if that wasn’t enough, he’s also able to jump from horse to horse to capture his nemesis… and wait ’til you see that sensational axe gun. Say what you will about this movie, but that scene alone to me is worth the price of admission!

And finally, the villain. Dashing Brit Rufus Sewell is no stranger for playing a baddie but surprisingly he’s never played a vampire before. A shame really as he’s quite good at it and his dramatic eyes seem almost otherworldly. He brings a certain sophistication and suave-ness to his role of Adam (which was written specifically for the movie). Now, you’ve seen vampires being bloodthirsty or romantic, but politically-inclined? Now that’s an idea. Adam is more of a politically-minded vampire… “It’s time we have a nation of our own,” he declares in that sexy, raspy voice of his. Rufus has this smirk on his face the entire time and he seems to be having the most fun in this movie. I wish he had more screen time here and that his character could’ve been a bit more developed, but still he’s always great to watch.

The always watchable Alan Tudyk also has a brief role as Stephen A. Douglas, the Democratic Party nominee for President in the 1860 election who lost out to Lincoln. He was also Lincoln’s romantic rival as he briefly dated Mary Todd.

Final Thoughts: I actually enjoyed this movie more that I thought. The cinematography by Caleb Deschanel looks beautiful and there are some really cool shots of Lincoln with his iconic hat and long coat. The action sequences of the slo-mo vampire chopping scenes did seem excessive though that it became tiresome. But the likable cast certainly helps and somehow the story managed to keep me engrossed from start to finish. I wouldn’t even mind renting this again when it’s out on Blu-ray.

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Magic Mike

If you’re going to see Magic Mike because you want to see a bunch of (mostly) naked men writhing around on a stage, well, you’ll get that. But as a warning, you’ll also get a somewhat uneven portrayal of a lifestyle filled with women, drugs, and desolation.

Let’s start with the good: Channing Tatum saves this movie from being horrible. He’s an excellent movie flirter and a bona fide movie star. Plus, he’s a great dancer (Step Up, anyone?). It’s hard to take your eyes off of him not just because he is ridiculously good looking, but because he makes you sympathize with his character, Mike, an “entrepreneur” who moonlights as a stripper. In Tatum’s limited range, he not only excels, he totally owns it; he knows what he is, he doesn’t try to be more, and he isn’t embarrassed by it.

Alex Pettyfer was also great in the role of Adam, an impulsive lost soul who is living with his sister, going from job to job until he meets Mike at a construction job (one of Mike’s entrepreneurial businesses that we only see or hear mention of once throughout the movie, hence the unevenness mentioned earlier). Mike takes Adam under his wing and soon, “the Kid” as he becomes known, is sucked into the world of Chippendales-style male stripping. But where Pettyfer excels is in portraying the dark side of the business: the lure of money, the drugs, the seedy women.

Then there’s the bad: Matthew McConaughey. He’s probably never been happier since he spent the majority of the movie in leather pants with his shirt off. He appeared so sweaty in almost every scene he was in, you could practically smell the body odor coming off him. And enough with the bongo playing and “all right, all right, all right.” He literally has no range. If you’ve seen one Matthew McConaughey movie, you’ve seen them all. His character, Dallas, is the owner of the club and a former stripper himself. He definitely plays a smarmy strip club owner to perfection, I’ll give him that.

Matt Bomer, as beautiful as he is, is rather unremarkable in the role, unfortunately. And don’t ask me about Joe Manganiello, who is the equivalent to Pamela Anderson, in my book. There is no presence. Sure, he’s fun to look at, but so what?

As for the script, there are several parts of it that don’t make any sense and could have used some serious editing, if not outright trimming completely. The female lead in the film, Cody Horn, who plays Alex Pettyfer’s sister, appears to have the same relationship with her brother as she does with her love interest Channing Tatum. Their opening scene together, at home, is so sexually charged, you feel gross the moment it’s revealed that they’re related. Horn’s character, Brooke, has a bizarre obsession with her brother throughout the film that made me uncomfortable. And her acting was stale and wooden.

It’s also ridiculous when Tatum’s character confronts Olivia Munn, his casual sex partner, and finds out she’s engaged. Her fiancé is sitting beside her. He graciously excuses himself when Tatum shows up at the restaurant. In what world would that actually go down??

That said, it’s not like Magic Mike didn’t have its moments. The depiction of the lifestyle seemed realistic enough. They addressed the drug culture involved in the profession, the desolation, the loneliness that comes from connecting only with people on a purely physical level – these stark realities were indeed portrayed rather honestly, although I’m not really sure if the message actually landed. And the dance scenes were hilarious. I especially loved the Fourth of July tribute when the guys took to the stage in camouflage, and the “It’s Raining Men” routine, complete with umbrellas and rain boots.

Overall, I really liked Magic Mike. But the problem I had with it was not necessarily with the film itself, but more the response to it. There are those who will argue that this is simply the female equivalent of when men hit up strip clubs. No way. When a man goes to see a woman take her clothes off, she’s inferior to his paying power. When a woman goes to see a man take his clothes off, is he inferior to her paying power, or is she still inferior to the power of what’s in his pants? It’s not like she’s leaning back in her chair, controlling the situation. None of those women in the theater or in the club are in control of anything. They are hysterical, horny, and subordinate. Nothing about that suggests assertion. I don’t have anything against a good time. But don’t sell it to me like this is some kind of reversal of misogyny and there’s empowerment to the exercise. You watch those faces and there is nothing empowering about how these women are behaving.

Besides, if this really is about flipping the exploitation over to the other side, how is it that there were multiple long shots of bare breasts and only one shadowed glimpse of a c*ck? This is a movie about male strippers and there’s not one head shot of a free swinging penis? Meanwhile Olivia Munn has her shirt off for an entire scene, and another blond woman, with an ample bosom, romps around a bed for a scene. Doesn’t seem very equal to me.

Final Thoughts: All this being said, I enjoyed Magic Mike for what it was – an entertaining summer movie with a super hot lead character.

– Review by Susan M.

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Have you seen either one of these movies? Do share your thoughts in the comments.

Trailers of the Week: Trailer 2 of Prometheus & Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Happy Sunday all!

Hope you’ve recovered your festive St. Patrick’s Day! This is quite a big weekend for trailers, and given their epic-ness I can’t help but not posting ’em here.

PROMETHEUS

Woo hoo!! I was already looking forward to this from the start but with this trailer, my excitement just jumped tenfold! In case you haven’t seen it (or you just want to watch it again for the umpteenth time :)), here it is below:


EPIC is the word here, don’t you agree? I thought the first one was good but I was annoyed by title treatment but THIS, it’s nothing but mystifying awesomeness. This looks like Ridley Scott’s return to form and to a genre that he knew how to do so well! If the cast of Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender, Idris Elba, Guy Pearce, Noomi Rapaci and Patrick Wilson didn’t sell you, this trailer surely will.

This has got to be the BEST trailer of all the 2012 blockbusters… it grips me right from the moment we hear Charlize Theron’s narration. It then begins asking a series of enigmatic question…

“An invitation … from whom?”

“What do you mean a life form?”

“They’re changing… changing into what?”

“They’re moving… to go where?”

The last 30 seconds are so damn intense my nerves is stretched to its snapping point… and ends with android-looking Fassbender stating… ‘big things have small beginnings.’ Woof!! Seriously that trailer is so goosebumps-inducing I don’t know if I’ve got the nerves to sit through the entire movie! The eerie background music definitely adds to the whole edge-of-your-seat experience.

Thanks to my pal Ted who sent me the International version, I decided to add this one to the post as well:


As Ted said in the comments, it’s perhaps closer in tone to the actual film, instead of the all-out action flick the US trailer suggest. Still, it promises a hair-raising and ominous journey for the team of explorers when they discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth.

This is poised to be the sci-fi event of this Summer folks! JUNE 8 can’t come soon enough!

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Ok, switching gear now from a futuristic space adventure to a supernatural but earth-bound adventure taking place in the 1800s. You’ve likely seen the International trailer a month ago which shows the US President his bad-ass side and his ax-wielding skills. Well the second one shows a bit more history and background to the story of the 16th US President’s secret life as a young man.

Check it out:

Historical fiction doesn’t get anymore free rein than this one, ahah… but this trailer definitely shows even more promise than the first one.

“History prefers nobility to brutality… prefers soaring speeches to quiet deeds… history remembers the battle, but forgets the blood…”

I like that this trailer shows more backstory of the and the idea of an American president trying to stop vampires from taking over the United States certainly capitalizes on the whole superhero theme, but with a giant twist. Nice to see Rufus Sewell as the villain leader being shown in the trailer, albeit way too quick… “It’s time we have a nation of our own,” he declares. Heh, blood sucking vampires in American politics?? Now that’s an idea 😉 Anyway, Rufus’ character is actually not in the Seth Grahame-Smith’s novel, he’s created specifically for the film.

I’m quite optimistic about this one, I do hope it’ll deliver!


You can read more about these two films on my Anticipated 2012 Part II post.


Thoughts on either one of these folks? Are you excited for Summer blockbuster to arrive?

THIS JUST IN: Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter First Trailer!

Here’s one of those movies with an idea so bizarre it’s bound to get you at least curious enough to check it out. One of America’s legendary presidents is a highly-trained vampire assassin?? What? What? When I first heard about it back in April when Rufus Sewell was cast as the lead vampire, I learned that the movie is based on a historical fiction of the same name by Seth Grahame-Smith, the same author of the equally wacky Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Relative newcomer Benjamin Walker who actually played yet another US president in the rock stage musical Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson is playing Lincoln.

Behold the International Trailer (updated 2/15):


Here’s the full synopsis per Daily Blam!:

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is a re-imagining of the 16th President’s life that depicts him as an axe-throwing, highly accomplished killer of vampires — an obsession of his since those bloodsuckers supposedly took the life of his mother. Lincoln eventually learns that the vampires have fled to the southern states of the U.S. and are concocting a plan to conquer and enslave the entire country — this in turn leads to the Civil War between the Union and the Confederacy, the latter of which the vampires are aligned with.

Directed by Russian director Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted) and produced by Tim Burton, it’s a return to the vampire genre for Bekmambetov who made two vampire thrillers set in Moscow, Night Watch and Day Watch. The gothic atmosphere set by the poster is certainly very Burton-esque, and it’s likely to be full of brutal, slo-mo Matrix-style action sequencesmixed with 19th-century period set pieces. Well whether Timur does a good job with this remains to be seen, but one thing for sure, you probably never saw this bad ass, axe-throwing side of Lincoln before.

Here’s more info about the cast:

  • Dominic Cooper (The Devil’s Double) – Abraham Lincoln’s mentor
  • Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker) – Will, Lincoln’s best friend
  • Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Pilgim VS The World) – Mary Todd, Abe Lincoln’s love interest and eventual wife
  • Andy Tudyk (Firefly) – Stephen A. Douglas, a strong but respected adversary of Lincoln within the Republican Party.

I can’t see most of the cast in this first trailer as there are just so much going on and the cuts are just too fast, but I guess this is more of a teaser to get us a glimpse of what to expect.

Updated 2/15: 20th Century Fox now has also released the Featurette, check it out below:



So folks, are you game to see this one in 3D come June 22?