Vampire Academy – film review

"Vampire Academy" poster.
“Vampire Academy” poster.
I caught Vampire Academy on a whim one day. It’s based on the book by Richelle Mead. The trailer for the movie seemed fun, so I thought it was a perfect Redbox rental. Unfortunately, it is one of those movies where the trailer shows most of the good parts. Good thing for us the rest of the movie isn’t necessarily a waste of time. If you’d like, you could just watch the trailer and call it good, but then you’d miss out on the romance, political intrigue, and other good stuff that happens in the halls of St. Vladimir’s Academy.

The movie begins with Rose Hathaway on the run with her BFF, Lissa Dragomir, a royal vampire. Rose is a Dhampir—half human, half vampire—who is a guardian in training. It is the Dhampir’s lot in life to be in service to the peaceful, elegant vampire royalty, the Moroi. These refined vampires stand in stark contrast to the Strigoi, your garden variety, bloodthirsty, bestial types.

It is possible the Strigoi have more fun, but the Moroi beat them handily on looks and class, provided they don’t drain their victims dry. At that point, they change into Strigoi and their fashion sense becomes impaired. Dhampir tend to be the foot soldiers in the war between Moroi and Strigoi. This becomes evident very quickly in the beginning as the girls find themselves trapped. Good thing other Dhampirs show up in search of the missing princess just as the Strigoi tie bibs around their necks.

Once at school, Vampire Academy is centered on the budding romance between Rose and her hard-to-understand mentor, Dimitri Belikov, while Rose maneuvers her way through friend zoning boys, dealing with bullying, and finding out what her friend Lissa’s super secret power is. Soon all her training is put to the test as she uncovers a dark secret that threatens all Moroi world-wide, and she must put a stop to it.

Rose is a fun character, if not acted the best by Zoey Deutch. Still, she’s fun to watch. Unfortunately, she isn’t the best-trained fighter. This becomes a severely funny detriment to the story as Rose’s character is supposed to kick butt with super-human finesse. Deutch’s punches felt as if they were in slow motion.

The fighting wasn’t the only weakness. The story events weren’t always strung together well. The events felt as if they were moving along on a conveyor belt. Yet there was an epic scope to the story. More than simply leaving room for a sequel, there was a sense that a lot of thought went into the world building. That’s why I wasn’t surprised to find it was based on books after I’d seen the movie. However, the direction felt stilted and sterile, and I think that hurt the film overall.

So why did I like Vampire Academy? The characters and the dialogue. For instance, Mason, the Forever Friend, was constantly making overt sarcastic commentary on his friendship status with Rose, commentary that went over her head constantly. Yet Rose was only clueless in love. For the most part, her snark and wit made for an entertaining experience. See the movie for the fun of it. It’s worth a buck or two. And try not to laugh too hard during the fight scenes. You’ll spoil the mood.

Release Date: February 7, 2014 (USA)
MPAA Rating: PG-13

MySF Rating: Three point zero stars
Family Friendliness: 70%

Content:

Alcohol/Drugs: 1 (some alcohol use)
Language: 3 (copious mild swearing)
Nudity: 0
Sexuality: 2 (implied sex, but no actual sex, just all around hotness)
Violence: 4 (vampire violence, blood letting, impaling, lame martial arts)


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