Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies
Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies (2012)
★ / ★★★★
Operation Big Shanty, a key move created by the Union designed to capture Fort Pulaski and gain great advantage against the Confederates during the Civil War, was a failure. Out of thirty men assigned to execute the undertaking, only one managed to survive. However, it turned out that prior to his rescue, he was bitten by another human that resembled a corpse, equipped with great strength and seemingly indestructible. Unbeknownst to him and his caretakers, it was only a matter of time until he turned to one of them. Abraham Lincoln (Bill Oberst Jr.) had encountered the living dead when he was a child. Having had the experience and the knowledge of how to kill them, he felt it was his duty to lead twelve men to Fort Pulaski and secure it for the sake of the country. Based on the story by Karl T. Hirsch and J. Lauren Proctor, “Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies” made the mistake of taking itself too seriously, adopting the pace of a three-hour period drama but without the heft nor the complexity of one. What it should have focused on was delivering creative ways to kill zombies as well as the side characters intent on getting blood on their hands. Each time the camera braced us in front of Lincoln and a zombie, there was an undeniable and all too momentary excitement mixed with glee because there was something very silly at the idea of our late president being able grip a scythe, slice someone’s head off, and not feel bad about it. For him, every undead meeting a true death simply had to be done for the good of the nation. He saw the corpse problem as a virus and he would do anything to contain it. Unfortunately, the screenplay by Richard Schenkman, felt the need to introduce an unnecessary romantic angle between Lincoln and Mary (Baby Norman), a woman the president met many years ago, for the sake of padding. As they learned that their feelings for one another were preserved as if they were the same people back then, their backstory was written and executed sloppily to the point of tedium. Oberst Jr. and Norman shared no chemistry. At one point, I grew so tired of their interactions that I wished a zombie was able to successfully sneak behind Mary and eat her so that the action would recommence. Further, the situation that the men were in were not especially interesting. It was disappointing because the fort housed Union and Confederate officers. Another critical misstep in the screenplay was passively allowing the zombies to be the stars, which didn’t make sense because aside from the fact that they were hungry, they were literally unable to do–let alone say–anything interesting as they lumbered from one spot to another, and the human characters went on autopilot, playthings to be chased and eventually trapped in a corner. It would have been great if there had been one or two scenes when a solider was allowed to speak of, for example, how this war against the undead was similar or different to the war against the living. I wanted to know if they felt there was a difference in killing a walking but unthinking corpse–which still resembled a human being–as opposed to killing a person who was as aware and as willing to kill. Directed by Richard Schenkman, while “Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies” was not without occasional humor because of acting that either felt too forced or completely detached, it was still a limp piece of work considering what great fun it could have given us. At times the mood had gotten so somber, I wanted shout, “But it’s Lincoln killing zombies!” at the screen.