‘Vampire Academy’ Review

Published 6 months ago by , Updated August 17th, 2014 at 4:06 pm,

vampire academy movie review Vampire Academy Review

In the fantasy world of Vampire Academy, there are mortal vampires that maintain a peace with humanity (a.k.a. the Moroi), their half-human/vampire guardians (known as Dhampirs), and wicked vampires called Strigoi. 17-year old Dhampir Rose Hathaway (Zoey Deutch) and her Moroi best friend Vasilisa “Lissa” Dragomir (Lucy Fry) – a royal vampire princess – were previously students of St. Vladamir’s Academy, a school where Moroi learn to control one of the four elements using magic, while Dhampirs are trained in the art of combat.

Rose and Lissa have been on the run for two years, when they are captured and brought back to St. Vincent’s. However, life at vampire high school is even more treacherous than in the outside world, as Rose and Lissa wind up having to navigate a sea of jealous rivals, unwanted (and wanted) attention from their male peers, disapproving instructors, and a disturbing series of events that suggests someone has it out for Lissa – but who and why remains a mystery. Welcome to life at Vampire Academy (… but don’t call it that).

Based on Richelle Mead’s young adult supernatural novels, the Vampire Academy movie plays out as a blend of Harry Potter-style fantasy world building and Buffy the Vampire Slayer-inspired use of supernatural tropes as (very) thinly-veiled subtext for the modern high school experience. You might expect the film to be all the more darkly witty and shrewd in its insights as a pop anthropological study of teenage life, since it was scripted by Daniel Waters (Heathers) and directed by his brother, Mark Waters (Mean Girls). Unfortunately, so much time is devoted to explaining the Vampire Academy mythology that there’s little room for much else.

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Zoey Deutch and Lucy Fry in ‘Vampire Academy’

Most of the character development and thematic progression in Daniel Waters’ script amounts to clunky exposition dumps in the form of dialogue; in addition to being a weak form of cinematic storytelling, that approach will probably make the Vampire Academy mythos seem all the more confusing to anyone who hasn’t read the books ahead of time. It’s a shame too, since this fantasy world is an interesting one and is deserving of being explored in greater depth. However, the Waters brothers’ movie covers so much territory – cramming in numerous subplots and interweaving too many story threads that are irrelevant to this installment (e.g. included to setup later films) – that it simply cannot do much of the content proper justice – especially, with a runtime under two hours.

The friendship between Rose and Lissa is one of the film’s stronger elements, as Zoey Deutch (Ringer) and Lucy Fry (Mako Mermaids) bring much-needed zest and affection to their roles, which are presented as very generic “strong female” archetypes: spunky and sassy (yet possesses a big heart) as well as proper and kind (but with a mischievous streak), basically. While there’s a lot of convoluted mythology and head-scratching subtext to their relationship – something that holds true for the film in general – Vampire Academy does flesh out their connection in a manner that’s believable and meaningful enough for the film’s purposes. Additionally, the story is foremost about the love between these two young women (the men around them are truly a secondary concern), which is also refreshing for this kind of genre flick.

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Zoey Deutch and Danila Kozlovsky in ‘Vampire Academy’

Visually, the film is nothing special, but it’s at least reasonably professional. Mark Waters and his cinematographer Tony Pierce-Roberts (Underworld) shot everything in a plain, yet also clean and comfortable fashion, so there’s no framing of the young women to objectify them, and the film tends to rely on quick-cutting rather than pseudo-realistic camerawork (in other words, no shaky cam) during the action sequences. Admittedly, the CGI elements tend to look fairly cheap, but there’s not too much in the way of obvious digital components to really justify complaining that much.

The supporting cast includes Danila Kozlovsky as Dimitri Belikov, Rose’s highly-skilled and hunky mentor; their forbidden romance is certainly awkward, but that seems to be at least somewhat intentional. The cast also includes Gabriel Byrne (In Treatment) as sickly high-ranking Morai royal Victor Dashkov, Sarah Hyland (Modern Family) as his socially-aloof daughter Natalie, Olga Kurylenko (Oblivion) as St. Vincent’s stringent Headmistress Kirova, and Claire Foy (Season of the Witch) as Ms. Karp, an instructor from Rose and Lissa’s past. As a general rule, their performances are adequate, no more or less.

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Olga Kurylenko in ‘Vampire Academy’

Other key characters in the film tend to be Rose and Lissa’s fellow students, including the envious Mia Rinaldi (Sam Gayle), the broody and fire-controlling Christian Ozera (Dominic Sherwood) and Rose’s guy friend – who harbors a secret crush on her – Mason Ashford (Cameron Monaghan) – Joely Richardson (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) also shows up for two scenes as the snobby Moroi Queen Tatiana. Sadly, if you haven’t read the source material, then you’ll likely be hard-pressed to remember most of these characters by name after the end credits stop rolling.

To sum it all up, Vampire Academy will probably only satisfy fans of the original books, who just want to see their favorite characters (and the world that they inhabit) brought to life. To most everyone else, this film will seem like yet another inoffensive, yet instantly disposable addition to the growing pile of cheap YA movie adaptations that’ve been released in recent years.

In case you’re still undecided, here is the trailer for Vampire Academy:

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Vampire Academy is now playing in theaters. It is 107 minutes long and is Rated PG-13 for violence, bloody images, sexual content and language.

Our Rating:

2 out of 5
(Okay)

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52 Comments

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  1. Darn shame about the reviews for this movie. The trailer made it look quite fun.

    • Really? I thought it was going to be a spoof movie when the trailer started, but then realized it actually is yet another attempt at the “vampires are normal people” shtick that is getting so freakin’ old now…

      • Yep, looked terrible in the trailers. Your comment about vampires is how I’ve felt about zombies since 2006 too.

      • Because of one other franchise, Twilight. THAT IS ALL. Seriously, People!

      • I’m with you on that. The title screams B league spoof movie, like all those direct to dvd movies that always popup and are more or less cheap clones or succesful films. I realise its the name of the book but seriously they should have thought about naming it something else.

        • That Lucy Fry though, sweet jebus she’s attractive. Just googled her pics, wow. Put her in the Ms.Marvel role.

    • I’ve seen it. The movie is quite fun…you should definitely try seeing it. :)

  2. Trying to combine Harry Potter and Twilight?

    I think the Vampire run is done… should have made Zombie Academy.

    • The problem is, the rights for the movie were bought in 2010 I think, a time when vampires were still popular (unfortunately thanks to Twilight, which is now used as a term of comparison whenever there’s a new YA movie out), but after Twilight ended everybody was like no we don’t want to see any other supernatural movie that involves teenagers, it will definitely suck just like Twilight did. And most of them were indeed not good movies. I haven’t watched Vampire Academy yet, but the books have a very special place in my heart. Maybe it would have been better if they didn’t make this movie. Too bad..

      • I agree, the books were amazing and still one of my favourite series after years. The movie trailer didn’t look anything like how the books were and I don’t think those actors were right for the roles. I haven’t seen the movie but I will, even though I don’t think it will be good. The books are usually always better than the movie adaptions. The movie won’t do the books justice.

        • Actually, the movie IS a faithful adaptation, and the actors are spot on. And by the way, this trailer is pretty much not how the movie actually is, pretty misleading so that others who don’t know the books come watch it.

          • I completely agree!

          • I’ve read all the books and it was one of my favorite series. However, the movie destroyed those books. It made it some pre-teen comedy mumbo jumbo. I don’t think they should have got those actors for the roles.The books were sort of serious so i don’t know why they made it that rose is suppose to be funny. she was really annoying. I was embarrassed watching the movie and i really did want to walk out the theater. worst movie of the year :(

            • I think you need to read the books again. Movie Rose was spot on. The movie (just like the books) had a mixture of humor and seriousness. And Rose was saying something funny all the time, especially when she was in dialogue. Despite this, the movie was less of a comedy than I thought it would be, since the trailers are misleading. I don’t know why people always forget that book 1 was teenie, funny and very high school, with a serious twist in the end. Nothing gets dark till Frostbite.

    • The book series was already being published before Twilight got big, and of itself is not based at all on Twilight. I can’t speak to the film, however the book is much more close tonally to Buffy the Vampire Slayer than Twilight. It’s a story about a girl who has dedicated her life to protecting her best friend, but because of some anomalies about her best friend, she isn’t always necessarily protecting her friend from the Strigoi (evil vampires) like expected, but often other royal Moroi.

    • For the record, Vampire Academy was written before Twilight was published.

    • Actually, it was more Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

  3. More teen-age angst vampire romance, and not true horror in the definition I personally go by. I have no interest in this, although I know some people are more into this modern stuff. I won’t be sitting next to you in the theater stealing your popcorn while this is on, though, never fear. Give me H. P. Lovecraft and classic Universal horror anytime, and I am relatively happy.

  4. Essas criticas são uma merda –’
    Para inicio de conversa, se sabia que o filme é baseado no livro, Porque não leu o livro antes de ver o filme? Se algumas partes ficaram confusas, azar o seu… E não Vampire Academy não tem nada a ver com Harry Potter ou Crepúsculo. Quando esse povo vai entender, que uma estória não tem absolutamente nada a ver com a outra?
    Essa critica foi ridicula, levando em conta o que o fãs vem comentando, ainda não tive a oportunidade de ver, já que aqui no Brasil, só mês que vem… Ah e se houve a continuação do filme ( que eu tenho fé que haverá), leia o resto da série. Assim na hora de realizar a sua criticas, não vá falar tantas besteiras

    • Eu sei, certo? Eles compará-lo com Crepúsculo (que não é justo), em seguida, eles encontrá-lo confuso e dizer que é complicado … quando a história é bastante simples. Eles precisam começar a fazer pesquisa antes de comparar coisas que não tenho nada a ver com o filme.

  5. This movie is targeted towards the teen /20s demographic.

    I’ll just wait for the Anne Rice Vampire Chronicle reboot.

    • I saw tween/teen…

      Anyway, I was expecting a 1 star or less review, I guess there must have been at least a few chuckles here and there to earn 2 stars, or Sandy was in a good mood while watching it or something…

      • Or he had a couple of gallons of beer. :-D

        • Or he figured he enjoyed this more than Rebootcop. Or maybe even Olga Kurylenko bumped it up a star.

  6. if you haven’t read the books read them… this movie was a flop…. and i loved the books..they ruined the books i loved in high school… Vampire Academy was not meant to be a comedy… and when i read them were not meant to be a mix between twilight and harry potter…. it was in a class all its own..the plot made no sense and the story line was all over the place… read the books and see for yourself..

    • Dude, if anything its more buffy the vampire slayer, only, their all vamps. but yeah, other then that, I’d say, fairly on it review.

      But seriously tho. Read the books, their awesome.

  7. I actually love the series but this movie was terrible. Still trying to decide if it was so bad it’s good or just bad.

    But really not representative of the books at all. At least not to me. Hope it doesn’t deter people from picking up the series!

    • Actually, I loved this movie so much that I was inspired to read the books to see what happens next.

  8. I am so tired of these teen vampire “novels” being turned into movies. What a waste of celluloid. Someone please make a Salem’s Lot movie that does the book justice. That’s a real vampire story. Or make the Vampire Lestat. Still sort of romanticized but there are plenty of monstrous vampire parts of that movie. I hate that these kinds of sub-par movies are the only kind of vampire material we have in the theaters.

  9. That is not the official trailer but only the teaser.
    Trailer – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E1ERrnYunBg
    A video that explains the most important and basic stuff to know about the mythological universe of the series – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9yX02fkMlA

  10. Until someone finally makes the Necroscope books into films I have no interest in these ‘vampire’ type movies. All vampires just seem pathetic in comparison to Lumley’s truly powerful and evil monsters (who are true vampire lords and not 19 year old emo-vampires…)

  11. I know it’s wishful thinking but I want them to make a second one. They’ll be able to get away from the high school feel and the comedy feel of it. It’ll be much better and they won’t have to set up all of the backstory again. It was still a good movie ad I think everyone should see it so they have a chance to make the other movies.

  12. Damn it. The one time I decide to NOT read the books ahead of time. I’m hoping can at least agree that these vampires will be/are better than the Twilame vampires. Can we officially stop the Twilight comparisons? Let’s put that horrible franchise behind us and move on.

    • Thing is, it won’t go away any time soon. Once you have something popular in a certain genre, that’s it, it becomes the main thing to compare similar movies/books to.

      That’s why whenever something strives for gritty realism with darker shades thrown onto the film through shadows and low lighting, it gets compared to The Dark Knight.

      • Also why anytime comic book movies start doing the shared universe thing leading to a team up movie they get compared to Marvel and Avegers movie.

        • And yet another reason why DC can’t get anything off the ground these days without being criticized to death about it.

  13. Four things I would like to say.

    1. Do not compare vampire academy to twilight. Many people are doing this, and it’s not fair. This is not a Twilight love story. Yes, they both contain Vampires, and THAT’S ABOUT IT. Twilight: A weak girl who falls in love with a vampire and tries to stay alive. Vampire Academy: A badass heroine who tries to protect her best friend from other evils. Rose is SO much stronger than Bella. Do not come into the theater wanting to see Bella and Edward, because that’s not what you’re going to get. There is a love interest, but it is more subtle. Rose is not chasing after Dimitri the way Bella chases after Edward. She is dedicated to protecting her friend, and is willing to sacrifice everything to do so.

    2. Realize this movie is based off of a book. That’s what makes the plot so complicated. And it is a good plot, but it had to be explained to everyone who hadn’t read the books. They did a great job explaining it, but it took up a long time because of the complexity. It was stuff you had to know though. The books were amazing, and I loved the movie as well. If you read the books, you will like the movie better.

    3. Don’t hate on this movie or on the sarcasm in it. If you’ve read the books (and you SHOULD), you’ll know how sarcastic Rose is. It’s just ROSE. And since this is a movie adaptation, they had to include it. (And I liked the sarcasm) Say what you want about the characters, but most of the were portrayed perfectly, and if you didn’t like them, that’s just a matter of opinion, not the fault of the actors.

    4. I loved this movie. I thought it was a great adaptation, and followed the storyline pretty perfectly. I can’t think of many things I would want to change, other than small details. If I could, I would see this movie a thousand times again. As a huge fan of the books, I went into the theaters apprehensive, for many other YA adaptations weren’t very good, and I was very surprised. Loved the acting, writing, score, fights, and sets. I totally recommend this movie to every VA fan!

    • You are absolutely right!I love Twilight, but i hate the fact that every book to movie adaptation gets compared to it. Like Divergent gets compared to The Hunger Games. The Vampire Academy series is funny, dark, a love story, and everything bundled up into one. Rose is HIGHLY sassy and funny, so her being the main character, makes the movie a sort of comedy. Also, since the books are so complicated, they have to explain it to the non-readers in the movie, which takes a decent amount of time to do. The next movies wont have to deal with all that stress, so they can add more details. I dont understand why people dont get this, and most of them are adults. Im a teenager, and i get this! I think the human race is getting dumber. (And I know im smart, im taking all AP and Honors classes as a freshman)

      • I hate when people compare divergent to the hunger games!! The only similarity is that the are both dystopian, and have a strong female heroine. THAT DOESN’T MAKE THEM THE SAME!! No two movies are the same, so don’t compare them!! If you’re expecting to see Twilight at the VA theater, you will be let down, because VAmpire Academy is different. (and SOOOO much better in my opinion.) Just for the record, I think that Bella is the worst female heroine ever. She’s so weak. Anyways, I just like VA better. Loved the movie.

    • VA is not Twilight, you are right. The fact that people think this stuck even close to the books blows my mind. I would like to point out the article above, what it says is true. The parts where ‘it adds smalls details’ are pivotal points in Rose and Lissa’s lives at that school. Her standing up to the Queen(what was screwed up in the movie), is totally a screw up of a pivotal moment for Lissa and for Rose. The sadness that Rose expresses for Lissa when she is dressed down by the Queen at the school(that is what happened in the book) Rose’s humor isn’t a laughing funny IT IS Snark, a huge difference especially when deciphering how to present something on screen. These high schooler’s are not like what you and I were in high school. They are facing life and death everyday.

      • But what is snark but sarcasm, which a lot of people tend to laugh at anyway? Snarky characters are unintentionally funny for that reason.

  14. Also, St. Vladamir’s IS NOT HOGWARTS!! Yes, they both educate students. They both know about magic. THAT IS ALL. Enough with the comparisons, can’t people realize this film as an original?! It’s NOT TWILIGHT, and it’s NOT HARRY POTTER. They are all YA adaptions. They center around Magic or Vampires, but that DOESN’T MAKE THEM THE SAME. PLEASE REALIZE THIS!!!!

  15. Honestly it was satisfying to see the books come to life as a fan and they had some really great moments in the movie that made you laugh and hold your breath but other then that it could’ve done much better, people who haven’t read the books would have a hard time seeing the movie with all this information that’s crammed onto them yet irrelevant later on. I mean some parts were added just to give more information about the characters and VA world that weren’t in the series. I’d say to at least take the chance to see it if you’re into supernatural worlds and kick-ass characters.

    • Never read the books, saw the movie, loved it, understood every minute of it.

  16. Every one may bash twilight , but numbers speak . VA might have been published before twilight but it wasn’t good enough to be a movie first . Say what you want about twilight but it is a multi-billion dollar franchise . If VA is better than twilight then it would have shown in the BO figures . You can’t compare the twilight to a flop like VA . Twilight forever !!!!!!!!!

  17. Haven’t seen the movie but I’ve read the books, this movie seems to be disappointing by what I have read and by the trailer. The movie almost looks like a spoof! One of my biggest complaints is that someone much more attractive could have acted as Dimitri, but that is the caster’a fault. Overall, I hope the movie doesn’t trash the wonderful books that I brag about to everyone.

    • And viewer opinion, really. I wasn’t that interested in him, but several of my friends fawned over the actor who played Dimitri.

  18. I went and seen this movie over the weekend and it was horrible. I actually downloaded the first book and made sure I read before the movie was released. I loved the book and I am reading the rest of them, but DONT I repeat DONT bother with this movie. Extremely poor directing and very bad B movish appeal. The fighting scenes are terrible and the movie is rushed. It does not match the feeling of the book. Also, it doesn’t match the book on several different aspects. HELLO when did LIsaa announce to the school that she has the spirit element and she loves Christian oh and she interrupts the queen. This movie was laughable at best. I literally walked out whe. There was 5 minutes left. The only redeeming quality in the movie was the casting if the Rose character. Everything and I mean everything else was wrong. So many things did not match the book.

    You may not want to compare this to twilight and I understand that, but at least the twilight movies were high budget A movies that almost matches the books perfectly.

  19. Okay, I have read the books three times. I have to say I was confused when the posters and trailers came out. This was looking like Mean Girls, I was pretty angry. I invested myself in the characters. I saw the movie, it was Mean Girls. The books are dark and yes a little snarky humor, and yes it does take place at a high school. But that does not excuse the mess that this ended up being. It is rushed, Rose’s narration is confusing and quite frankly I was mad that a bunch of 13 year olds highjacked another good vampire movie. The movie was tacky at best.

  20. Hey, did any reliable sources give us information about the budget for this film? I haven’t seen one yet, which is extremely odd.

  21. Okay yes I admit that the fans who have read the book will of course go and support the movie no matter what, but this was NOT another cheap YA adaptation. This series has so much potential and if it was marketed better it would’ve gotten more money. Everyone is quick to judge that this is another “Vampire” movie but it doesn’t even focus on being a blood sucker. IT’s filled with friendship, loyalty, and life lessons. I’d give it 10000 stars.

  22. This movie ruined the book. I honestly love the books, and this movie made it all seem like a spoof. Can’t believe they did this. I know there was a huge humour element to the books, but that wasn’t the main focus of the story at all. If a good laugh is all what the audience took from this movie, then the film has obviously failed the original book. I’m sorely disappointed. :/

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