My most recent Jerks & Irks segment listed the reasons why I hate movie critics, my proof being a recent review of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. But I didn’t get into how I felt about the movie. So here goes: I liked it. But…
It was nothing like the book. It was as if the book was a mere suggestion. Would you like to know what the book and the movie had in common? Abraham Lincoln. And Vampires. That’s honestly, basically it. What’s even more amazing is the author of the book, Seth Grahame-Smith wrote the screenplay!
I know, my mind was blown too.
And I’m not the only one who noticed the disparity. One of SGS’s twitter followers asked him if he even read his own book before he wrote the screenplay. SGS’s response? “There was a book?” At least he’s maintaining a sense of levity about the subject.
Aww, are you impatiently waiting for me to tell you what the differences were? I thought so. Here are sixteen (in honor of our 16th president, of course!):
Oh, I almost forgot, **SPOILER ALERT**.
- The opening scene where a young Abe protects a slave boy from the whip of his vampire master? Never happened in the book.
- The scene where Abe’s mother is dying from an unknown illness that is actually a blood sickness caused by a vampire bite? In the book vampires dripped a few drops of their blood into the mouths of the victims they intended to kill (without turning them into vampires). There were no bite marks.
- Abe’s vampire hunting began with the killing of the vampire responsible for his mother’s death, Mr Barts, when he was still a boy.
- Mr Barts only had one arm in the book.
- In the movie, a grown Abe was hunting Mr Barts when he was saved by a stranger (Henry). In the book, as mentioned, Mr Barts was already dead. Abe was hunting a female vampire who fed on children when Henry saved him.
- Henry took Abe in while he was on the mend in both versions of the story, but in the book, Abe knew right away that Henry was a vampire. Henry anticipated this, which is why Abe woke up in chains.
- Who in the hell is William? In the movie, the same boy Abe saved in his childhood comes back as an adult and free slave and is almost like a sidekick. This character did not EXIST in the book! Agghhh!
- Speaking of added characters, the Adam & Eve, brother/sister, first family of vampires didn’t exist in the book either.
- The back story Henry provided for how he was turned didn’t happen that way in the book.
- That lovely scene where Abe and a should-be-dead-for-a-decade-now Mr Barts hop across the backs of wild horses like stones in a creek never happened.
- Henry tells Abe that vampires can’t kill each other. Not true. In fact, the book includes a scene where Henry and his friends save Abe and two other “hunters” from a nasty vamp-trap. They didn’t save them using double talk and peace offerings, let me assure you.
- There’s an entire character missing. Abe did meet and work for a man named Speed, but there was also a big, tall guy he became friends with. After the neighborhood bullies picked a fight with Abe and he bested said big, tall guy, they eventually hunted side by side.
- There was a woman Abe fell in love with before he met and married Mary Todd. I don’t remember her name, but Abe was going to propose to her but she was promised to a vampire and out of spite the vampire killed her with that blood sickness thing.
- Abe and Mary Todd had four sons, two of which died in the book. The son that died in the movie at least kind of died under the same circumstances as in the book. Kind of.
- All that stuff about bringing all the silver in the land down to the Civil War battle fields, and the decoy train, and the Underground Railroad smuggling the actual silver…NEVER HAPPENED.
- The movie ends with Abe and Mary heading out to the play. The book progresses through the assassination (John Wilkes Boothe was a vampire, of course) and Abe is subsequently turned by Henry in order to continue their vampire hunting fun.
I’m sure there are probably a half-dozen more differences, but these are the ones that left me seething the most. Hubby-pants insisted that I forget there was a book and “just try to enjoy the movie.” Which I admit, I did only in retrospect. And I also conceded the fact that the book, as it was, would not have translated very well into a movie. The biographical, journalistic style would have made for quite a boring two-hour flick, so I understand why SGS damn near rewrote the entire concept in preparation for its big screen debut. Personally, I think it took a lot of objectivity for him to do what he did. So my question is this, precious readers, what about your projects? Would you rewrite them for the big screen? Or allow them to be rewritten?
You folks are going to have to forgive me. This post and the next are going to be all Abe-Lincoln-Vampire-Hunter’ed up. I read the novel by Seth Grahame-Smith and promptly went to see the movie. And even though I have read 2.3 other books since Abe, I still have a couple of thoughts swirling around up there that I need to get out.
“I wish a movie critic would…”
First, a little back story: I hate movie critics. Not as people or anything. No, I hate them because I believe certain people shouldn’t critique certain movies. For example, haughty-toity (sp?) types shouldn’t review movies like The Expendables or Tropic Thunder because they’re going to say the writing is bad, the plot is unbelievable, the humor was crude, the actions scenes were too loud, etc… Likewise, someone like me, who enjoys action movies like The Expendables probably shouldn’t review something like The Vow or The Notebook. (We see this in book reviews all the time don’t we, readers/writers? It’s annoying in all forms, trust me.)
So what does this have to do with Ole Honest Abe? I came across this review on USA Today after I had finished the book, but before I had seen the movie. Allow me to demonstrate its jerkiness:
- The title of the review is “Abraham Lincoln Finely Dices History.” Yes we know, it isn’t a documentary on the Discovery Channel.
- “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter does to history what its commander-in-chief does to the undead populace: mangles it beyond recognition.” Please see Number 1.
- “Moviegoers likely aren’t coming for a refresher course on our 16th president or the Civil War.” Oh, so you do get it? So what’s your problem then, dude?
- “Lincoln watches his mother’s murder at the hands of a vampire. (For the record, Nancy Lincoln died at 34 from “milk sickness,” a common ailment at the time contracted by ingesting contaminated milk or bad beef.)” Congratulations. You have access to Google. Nerd. For the record, the beauty of the original novel was the author’s ability to explain away historical “facts” with instances of the existence of vampires. I don’t want to be crude, but something tells me this reviewer’s bedroom isn’t exactly rockin’…
- “[The movie] goes way off track after the mother’s death, and nearly derails with a rock-scored training montage that has become requisite viewing in any fight film.” As my Hubby-pants and I like to say, there are only about eight basic premises for movies, with subtle changes in characterization and plot details. So I’m sorry, but the Coming-of-Age (gosh, I hate that saying) Action Movie includes learning how to be all action-y and stuff. Deal.
- “The fight scenes — especially the battle on a runaway train speckled in coal sparks — can be spectacular. As action films go, [this movie] is hard to beat.” Okay, now I’m confused. Either you get it or you don’t.
- “But oh, what it could have been. The film dances around solid themes: racism, nationhood, the embodiment of evil vs. the spirit of good.” *Sigh* You don’t get it… Dude, it’s not The Help, or The King’s Speech, or Evita, or any other Oscar worthy film. IT’S. ABOUT. VAMPIRES. (by the way, the film actually includes way more slaves than the book did. William, the free slave who was Abe’s roll-dawg? Doesn’t exist in the book. But, alas, this is a discussion best left for my next post.)
- “Confederate soldiers aren’t much more likable than the vampires, who side with the South, of course.” Oh, you mean like they do in the novel? Because slaves are easy prey and without slavery they can’t survive in the shadows? What would you have the vampires do? Hmm?
- “Even its attempts at humor, especially Mary Todd nagging her husband that they’ll be late for the play that ultimately kills him, make you wish [the movie] would stick to the impalements.” You would think you artsy-fartsy types would recognize foreshadowing when you see it. Did you not just witness Henry (Abe’s vampire pal and mentor) discussing with Abe the endless possibilities of their vampire hunting if Abe were also immortal?
- “Despite its factual dismemberment of the movie’s namesake, Hunter bristles as summer action fodder. Honest.” This is how the review concludes, summarizing the entire thing beautifully: The reviewer doesn’t get it (they never do), but he kinda does (I’m still not sold.)
Say what you want about the movie’s desecration of history, but at least they got the flags right for this scene.
So, I’m halfway through The Girls With the Dragon Tattoo Trilogy. Its been a week since I’ve started and I’m only halfway through. Its killing me. I’ve read other trilogies in less than 36 hours. The books are interesting enough, but seriously slow goings. I’m hoping to at least finish them by the end of the month. This way, when I order the NetFlix of the first movie, which I currently assume will be faster-paced, I can call it a personal April Fool’s joke when its just as slow and tedious. Still looking forward to it. Anyway, here are my thoughts so far:
*Disclaimer: You thought I was going to say “Spoiler Alert” didn’t you? Quite the opposite. I’m not gonna ruin anything. Scout’s Honor (I was a Girl Scout for about a week, that counts right?).*
- The books take place in Sweden. EVERYTHING is purchased at Ikea. Its ridic. You don’t read American books where every scrap of furniture is shouted out as having originated at Sears.
- The books take place in Sweden. (Yes I re-wrote that on purpose. For effect.) Apparantly “Svensson” and “Johansson” are very common last names and “Nils” is a very common first name. These names are probably the American equivalent to (or is it equivalent of?) ”Smith,” “Johnson,” and “Mike.” HOWEVER, naming a main character “Svensson,” then naming another, albeit inconsequential, character “Svensson” is terribly confusing. Especially when they are only referred to by their last name. All of sudden its like, “Svensson drove North towards Flakenboppin” and you’re all like, “What? I thought Svensson was in Frickendloppin.”
- The books take place in Sweden (noticing a pattern?). All the streets, cities, areas, and stores (besides the all-familiar Ikea) have a name like “Kleppenoggin” and “Poopensnottin.” Extremely difficult to remember where everyone is at all times. Plus, I don’t know about you, but I hate it when I can’t pronounce something, even if its in my head.
- Sweden is the country that never sleeps. And the books take place in Sweden (I switched it up. See what I did there?). Seemingly, the Swedish never consume any beverage other than coffee. Ever. Every character is forever making coffee, drinking coffee, offering coffee, stopping for coffee, and turning on the coffee maker. No matter what time of day or night. Coffee, coffee, coffee. Ironically, constantly reading about coffee is exhausting.
- I wish Stieg Larsson had hired Jennifer M. Eaton’s beta reader to deal with his characters’ incessant coffee consumption. (For the record, I wish I could hire her beta reader)
If I ever make it to Sweden, do you think I might happen upon a “Dragon Tattoo Tour” in which a tour guide by the name of Nils Svensson-Johansson brings me to an Ikea in Glikkensnoppen for coffee?
Next blog post will include something about my nifty little novel. Probably a summary of Chapter 6. Or maybe something completely random. I’m open to suggestions. : )