18/08/2014

Abe, Poor Abe

I have nothing against fantastic retellings of history (I wouldn't read Tim Powers otherwise) and silly movies can be fun sometimes (think of Invasion U.S.A.) So I had no objection a priori to the concept of Old Abe killing vampires. My problem - well, my main problem - with Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter is that it looks awful and fake.

Like all too many recent Hollywood flicks, ALVH looks like it's tinted: some scenes are all blue, some are all brown, others are all yellow, etc. What few colours survive are invariably flattened for fear that they might look bright - for brigtness is bad, not "serious" and not "artistic". I was shocked when the end titles told me the one responsible for all that hideousness was none other than Caleb Deschanel, hardly a lightweight or a newcomer and apparently not stricken with daltonism. Clearly there is now a mandate in Hollywood for visual blandness and ugliness; no surprise then that Terrence Malick works as an independent. Better not to imagine what Black Narcissus or Lawrence of Arabia would look like if they were made today. Leon Shamroy and Russell Metty need no apply.

As if that wasn't bad enough, ALVH is also high on CGIs (nearly all action scenes are virtual to some extent) and very obviously studio-bound. The sets look painfully like sets, no matter how digitally altered they are. As to What's-his-name who plays the title role, he's as credible playing Lincoln as Sylvester Stallone would be playing Queen Elizabeth. Same thing goes for Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Mary Todd. Hollywood has never been comfortable with ugliness and average looks (the 70s being a notable but short-lived exception) and there's little that can be done about it, but it's no reason to accept anything.

That being said, maybe the book is better (though I have my doubts as the author adapted it for the screen himself and can't pretend to have been betrayed by the result) I bought it when it came out, and should give it a look - if only I could remember where it is. 


Further reading:

"Teal and Orange - Hollywood, Please Stop the Madness" by Todd Miro

"Whatever Happened to Colour?" by Pete Emslie


 

1 commentaire:

John a dit…

Role playing and shooter video games are exactly the same. Action movies and video games are all morphing into one type of unwatchable entertainment, at least for me. Invariably these dark color palettes are found in the myriad comic book hero inspired action thrillers we are bombarded with every year. Do you think maybe they do it so the target audience who are probably addicted to video games feel more comfortable? As if they're at home in front of they're computer?

I read exactly one quarter of Seth Grahame-Smith's first book, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES. Some of it was funny but it got old very fast. Much of it was lifted directly from Austen's novel so you can't really say that Grahame-Smith wrote that book. But when he continued to write nothing but this kind of nonsense I never bothered reading any more of his books.