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Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies(2012)
As Abraham Lincoln labors over the Gettysburg address, the importance of which he is fully aware, he learns that a menace from his past has returned, threatening to tear the already fractured nation to pieces. He must journey behind enemy lines to face an foe far more fearsome than the Confederate army: the walking dead.
For more about Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies and the Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies Blu-ray release, see Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on June 2, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 out of 5.
Starring: Bill Oberst, Jr., Baby Norman, Christopher Marrone
Director: Richard Schenkman
» See full cast & crew
Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies Blu-ray Review
From the same entertainment medium that brought you "The Godfather," "Lawrence of Arabia," and "Star Wars."
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, June 2, 2012
The Asylum frees itself from the constraints of shoddy digital effects and bottomed-out acting in Abraham Lincoln Vs. Zombies, the latest of that studio's many rip-offs, this one getting the jump on 20th Century Fox's soon-to-be-released Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Oh yes, they've really gone and done it now. When The Asylum starts ripping off other studio's really crazy ideas sourced from new wave novels in the same style of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, it's easy to see that the world's entertainment options are quickly dwindling, its writers running out of ideas, its filmmakers and studios desperate for anything that might attract at the very least a curious glance that might turn into ticket or disc sales. Modern crazes mixed with historical figures and writings is nothing new, though; behold 2001's Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter as a perfect example. So now the Man who freed humanity from its sins and the man who freed the slaves from bondage have both been tied to battles with the undead; one can only image who's next on the list. But for as crazy as it sounds, it works, to a point. Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies proves so absurd that it's actually quite fun, if not somewhat repetitive and fairly quick to wear out its welcome and wear down its novelty. But there's just enough good here -- including a noticeable step up in production values from The Asylum -- to make this one worth a spin.
On the eve of the most important address of his life and in the days following the bloody battle at Gettysburg, President Abraham Lincoln reflects on his life conflict with the undead for inspiration in his speechwriting endeavors. As a boy, Abraham was forced to face the undead plight directly, killing his infected mother at the dying wish of his father. Years later, and now President, Lincoln (Bill Oberst Jr., A Haunting in Salem 3D) learns of the devastating failure of a mission meant to re-capture a critical coastal fort, Pulaski. Only one man has survived the ordeal, and he tells not a tale of battle with the Confederate Army but rather of a devastating run-in with "the walking dead," beings which could not be killed but that ravenously devoured the flesh of the living. The man himself quickly falls victim to the disease which fundamentally alters the once-human host, transforming him into one of the creatures he so adeptly described mere moments before. He kills the man President Lincoln had charged with leading the mission back to Pulaski in hopes of confirming its fate and the fates of those around it. Now, President Lincoln appoints himself leader of the mission, citing his familiarity with the outbreak and determination to see the mission completed successfully and to his personal satisfaction. He assembles a crack team of Secret Service agents to accompany him on a long journey which will be defined by the spilling of blood, unlikely allegiances, and plenty of decapitations along the way towards history.
Connoisseurs of Asylum pictures will note that Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies manages to improve upon the usual Asylum dud by quite a bit, and it bests even the most "competent" pictures the studio has ever released, American Warships being an excellent point of comparison. That Battleship knockoff relies almost entirely on digital effects to advance its plot, while Lincoln severs ties with many of the obvious computer renderings in favor of a more character-driven storyline. That's not to say the picture is devoid of either action or digital effects -- both appear in some quantity -- but the reliance on other than the cheap computer generated effect, making such things a supporting element rather than a defining element, leaves the movie relying on story much more so than visuals alone to succeed. And succeed, in part, it does. Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies, safe to say, is the best movie The Asylum has ever released, and by a fairly comfortable margin. Even if the movie sometimes devolves into the absurd, almost as if by choice simply to retain some semblance of the "bad" and "stupid" audiences have come to expect, it surpasses all expectations and plays as quite the fun little diversion. Even when the movie twice shows characters wielding semi automatic muskets or focuses on a painfully absurd shot of the heroes emerging from digital smoke, the good far outweighs the bad, and at the very least the picture should leave audiences smiling, even if it's just smiling through the ridiculousness of it all, reveling in a crazy story and admiring the uptick in quality from an otherwise notoriously awful studio.
Better, the movie captures a fairly dark tone and plays things rather seriously, even amidst splashes of mostly phony CGI blood and the many little low-budget, no-care annoyances such as those noted above. But even considering that the movie manages some deeper character moments and a steady, almost convincing, tone, it slows down a bit after a rapid first act as the movie devolves into a collection of maneuvers that see Lincoln and friends simply moving from one place to the next, picking up and losing allies and battling the undead at every turn. The filmmakers never quite manage to give the movie a purpose beyond novelty, but that alone, in this instance, carries it on through to completion, even if it is somewhat dramatically unsatisfying. There is, however, the weaving of Lincoln's fictional personal history with the undead into his biography, which is a major factor in enhancing the film, far surpassing an effort where the character might have otherwise been presented in a vacuum with no real connection to history other than the beard, hat, and general timeframe. While these elements (how he wrote the Gettysburg Address, why he was assassinated) give the movie a general frame, the bulk of the story feels underdeveloped as, upon arrival at Pulaski, it simply devolves into those mini-adventures that only advance the plot enough to kill zombies and do little more to truly involve the audience in the picture.
From a technical perspective, the movie bests The Asylum's finest efforts in nearly every area. The picture boasts some convincing period costumes and locations, including a great Fort Pulaski shooting locale that's actually real rather than digital, which seems opposite the norm for The Asylum, the studio usually building a couple of small sets and digitizing everything else. The cinematography takes advantage of the location, and the movie feels visually bigger and more polished than the average Asylum picture. Bill Oberst Jr. disappears behind the Lincoln beard and under the 16th President's famed top hat. Though his vocal cadence and accent seem a little unbalanced, his provides a steady, almost effortless performance that gives the character an ever-so-slight superhero or, at least, action star kind of feel while also respecting the intellect and office the character holds. Never does Lincoln feel like a gimmick; Oberst's performance rounds the character into a wholly believable shape where audiences buy him either as a zombie slayer or as a President delivering one of the most acclaimed addresses in political history.
Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies Blu-ray, Video Quality
Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies slices onto Blu-ray with a fairly flat 1080p transfer sourced from an HD video shoot. It looks like pretty much every other Asylum Blu-ray release, mixing together steady colors with mostly wonderful details but also a handful of softer shots and moments of lower definition and crispness. Through the glossy overlay, the image boasts some wonderful textures. Lincoln's childhood cabin, the battered brick walls of Fort Pulaski, and rocky terrains all look marvelous, presented with a high attention to detail. Additionally, complex facial and clothing textures are readily evident in close-up shots. The image isn't made of a wide array of colors. Black clothes, earthy tones around the fort, and shadowy corners construct the bulk of the visuals; most colors come from red bricks and other small hints which appear around the screen and in spite of the fairly gray and washed out palette. Black crush is evident in the darkest underground scenes, and light noise dots such backdrops. Banding is often visible across background surfaces and up in the brightest, washed-out skies. Overall, however, this is a good transfer that replicates the lower-end HD video source nicely enough.
Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies really doesn't tear up sound systems with the sort of aggression and bloodlust listeners might expect from a Zombie movie. This one's rather reserved, lacking much in the way of energy, volume, and raw presence. Opening battle sounds from Gettysburg immerse the listener into the chaos with gunfire popping and explosions rocking the listening area, but even still this is far from convincing audio. Music plays with adequate clarity and a noticeable, but not dominant, surround support element. Minor ambience, mostly in the form of chirping birds or the occasional moan from a zombie, creates a fair outdoor 1860s zombie-infested atmosphere. Gunshots fired in the effort to slay zombies don't offer much more than a cursory popping sensation. Dialogue is mostly clear, but rather hushed and hesitant. The low-level dialogue is the real weak point here; it's clear the movie didn't splurge on its sound, but the Dolby Digital track recreates the film's meager audio elements well enough.
Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies contains a short featurette and a gag reel.
Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies would be a pretty solid movie were it released as a direct-to-video picture by most any studio, and it's practically a revelation coming from The Asylum. This is by no means a great picture or a classic in the making, but its reliance on good characters, a fair story (namely the interweaving of zombie battles into Lincoln's personal and political history), an absence of excess low-end CGI, and a strong lead performance from Bill Oberst Jr. all contribute to what is easily the best movie The Asylum has ever released. Sure it's goofy and absurd, but it's a good bit of fun, even after the slowdown following an addictive first act. The Asylum's Blu-ray release of Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies features good video, serviceable audio, and the typical array of Asylum extras. Recommended.
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