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Review: Vampire Academy

Vampire Academy
Feb. 7, 2014by:
2 10

PLOT: A seventeen-year-old Dhampir (half human- half vampire) named Rose (Zoey Deutch) is in training at St. Vladimir's Academy to become a guardian- dedicated to protecting their Moroi masters (full blooded but peaceful vamps) with their lives. Her Moroi best friend, Lissa (Lucy Fry) is the next-in-line to the royal throne of the Moroi, making her the target of an evil vampire race called the Strigoi.

REVIEW: Sometimes bad movies happen to talented people, but even by that logic, VAMPIRE ACADEMY is just awful. Based on the YA series by Richelle Mead, think TWILIGHT crossed with HARRY POTTER, with a chunk of MEAN GIRLS dropped into the mix. Well, at least that's what I'm sure the studio wants you to think, but the film goes so awry so quickly that it's hard to believe even the easiest-to-please tween girl audience will be hoping for a VAMPIRE ACADEMY 2.

In fact, VAMPIRE ACADEMY is so awful in its first act that it's surprising it's getting a theatrical release at all. Even the concept feels stunningly wrongheaded, with the Dhampir's essentially being content slaves. Is that the message Hollywood should be pedalling to young audiences? What's even worse is that this is not the work of untalented people. Brothers Mark and Daniel Waters ushered this series to the big screen, with Mark directing and Daniel doing the script. Both of them have done good work in the past. Mark directed MEAN GIRLS, one of the better teen movies of its era, while Daniel wrote an all-out classic with the great HEATHERS. Heck, even if you take that away from him, he's still had an interesting filmography, writing the ultra-bleak BATMAN RETURNS (a deliriously twisted movie if you haven't watched it in awhile) along with the underrated HUDSON HAWK (a movie I'll always defend) and giving the Stallone vehicle DEMOLITION MAN an uncommonly sharp wit for a studio actioner from that era. What the heck happened?

The only logical guess is that VAMPIRE ACADEMY either got re-shot, and/or re-cut at the last minute, with so much exposition packed into the first five minutes it's like walking into the second film in a franchise without having seen the first. The dialogue is so clunky that it's unintentionally hilarious. Things don't get too much better as the film goes on, even if it's not as disastrous as the first hour. Attempts to give the film an intriguing romantic subplot (or ten) fall flat, and while the Waters Bros at least try to make this a little more action-y than usual for the genre by including lots of hand-to-hand scraps, everything is by the numbers and without any imagination.

The only thing the movie really has going for it is star Zoey Deutch. The daughter of Lea Thompson (and her SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL director Howard Deutch) she has the same mix of spunk and sexiness her mom had (or rather, has) and seems like with a good role she could go places. This isn't it, as she's forced to spout some terribly clunky exposition, while juggling a really awkward mix of high school teen clichs and fantasy, all while explaining this insanely convoluted world of Dhampir's and Morois. Other than Deutch, her onscreen love interest, the brooding Danila Kozlovsky shows some promise in that he does well in the action scenes- as dull as they are- and seems not to take himself as seriously as the rest of the cast.

As usual for a YA adaptation that's also a hopeful launching pad for a new franchise, some respected names are sprinkled in the cast, with Gabriel Byrne phoning it in as one of the school's elders (he deserves better roles) while Olga Kurylenko is wasted as the school's headmistress. MODERN FAMILY's Sarah Hyland also shows up as the geeky girl who (natch) has a secret. It's all very boring.

Happily, VAMPIRE ACADEMY will likely just be a footnote in everyones filmography, and will likely be as quickly forgotten as other franchise non-starters like BEAUTIFUL CREATURES, CITY OF EMBER and countless others. It's not the first atrocious YA adaptation, and it certainly won't be the last.

Source: JoBlo.com

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2:17AM on 02/07/2014

Damnit

I have to take a lady to see this tomorrow. WHY CAN'T I FIND A GIRL THAT WANTS TO SEE THE LEGO MOVIE!
I have to take a lady to see this tomorrow. WHY CAN'T I FIND A GIRL THAT WANTS TO SEE THE LEGO MOVIE!
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2:43AM on 02/07/2014
I... I feel bad for you, bro.
I... I feel bad for you, bro.
+3
3:15AM on 02/07/2014
This looked like a stinker from it's trailer, a generic cash in on the same kind of literature that teens like to eat up. But then, it doesn't have to be good to sell tickets right? I'd be surprised if this doesn't do well, even if it does suck. Heck, fans of Twilight will defend that series to death, and I think we all know that that franchise was about as bad as it gets (though, this, apparently, trumps even that).
This looked like a stinker from it's trailer, a generic cash in on the same kind of literature that teens like to eat up. But then, it doesn't have to be good to sell tickets right? I'd be surprised if this doesn't do well, even if it does suck. Heck, fans of Twilight will defend that series to death, and I think we all know that that franchise was about as bad as it gets (though, this, apparently, trumps even that).
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5:04AM on 02/07/2014
None of the spark from Heathers? At all?
None of the spark from Heathers? At all?
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6:45AM on 02/07/2014
This looks like Lifetime movie.
This looks like Lifetime movie.
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3:51AM on 02/10/2014
Nah. There's not enough cancer and domestic abuse for Lifetime
Nah. There's not enough cancer and domestic abuse for Lifetime
7:21AM on 02/07/2014
The only thing about this film that sounds good to me is that Chvrches did a cover of Bauhaus's "Bela Lugosi's Dead," one of my favorite songs ever. And since I can get that on the internet... yeah, I won't be seeing this one.
The only thing about this film that sounds good to me is that Chvrches did a cover of Bauhaus's "Bela Lugosi's Dead," one of my favorite songs ever. And since I can get that on the internet... yeah, I won't be seeing this one.
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7:31AM on 02/07/2014
Love Chvrches.
Love Chvrches.
9:13AM on 02/07/2014
Shame. The trailers made this look like it would at least be one of those so-bad-it's-good movies. Oh well, I was planning on seeing The Lego Movie anyway.
Shame. The trailers made this look like it would at least be one of those so-bad-it's-good movies. Oh well, I was planning on seeing The Lego Movie anyway.
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3:49AM on 02/10/2014
It might actually be so-bad-it's-good. But good lord man, if it is, that is NO reason to see it in theaters!
It might actually be so-bad-it's-good. But good lord man, if it is, that is NO reason to see it in theaters!
11:06AM on 02/07/2014
Whats funny is that you mentioon Beautiful Creatures and City of Ember as forgettable. I enjoyed both films equally. Regardless of your rating I will be watching this movie as soon as possible. I have noticed the reviews lately (last 8 months or so) have not matched my own personal thoughts and likes.
Whats funny is that you mentioon Beautiful Creatures and City of Ember as forgettable. I enjoyed both films equally. Regardless of your rating I will be watching this movie as soon as possible. I have noticed the reviews lately (last 8 months or so) have not matched my own personal thoughts and likes.
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11:32AM on 02/07/2014
I'm sorry, but aside from Harry Potter and Hunger Games, there will never be a good adaptation of a YA novel. Studios really need to stop wasting their time, or at the very least get people to write and produce these movies that are closer to the desired demographic, they'll probably be more prone to tapping into what the story is all about (Not sure if there really was one in Vampire Academy though). And not to knock the Waters brothers, but the one guy directed Mean Girls (Not bad but
I'm sorry, but aside from Harry Potter and Hunger Games, there will never be a good adaptation of a YA novel. Studios really need to stop wasting their time, or at the very least get people to write and produce these movies that are closer to the desired demographic, they'll probably be more prone to tapping into what the story is all about (Not sure if there really was one in Vampire Academy though). And not to knock the Waters brothers, but the one guy directed Mean Girls (Not bad but relied more on generalized cliches for it's humor) and the other guy wrote Demolition Man, Heathers, and Batman Returns, so basically a writer without a hit since 1992?
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12:41PM on 02/07/2014
Tina Fey wrote the script, so isn't she responsible for the "generalized cliches"?
Tina Fey wrote the script, so isn't she responsible for the "generalized cliches"?
3:22PM on 02/07/2014
If it looks like shit and smells like shit it's probably shit.
If it looks like shit and smells like shit it's probably shit.
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7:21PM on 02/07/2014
Haha, I love how on the reviews page it has a 0/10!
Haha, I love how on the reviews page it has a 0/10!
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10:29PM on 02/07/2014
Haven't got a chance to see it yet so I can't say if the fault is in the movie or the viewer here but having read the books I can tell you a point has been vastly missed. No it's not supposed to be okay that the damphir are treated like slaves and seemingly accept it. In fact it's a major plot point for the overall series. I'm not exactly hopeful they did the books justice as they are very good and the movie trailers look questionable to be polite. But I'm not taking anyone's opinion too
Haven't got a chance to see it yet so I can't say if the fault is in the movie or the viewer here but having read the books I can tell you a point has been vastly missed. No it's not supposed to be okay that the damphir are treated like slaves and seemingly accept it. In fact it's a major plot point for the overall series. I'm not exactly hopeful they did the books justice as they are very good and the movie trailers look questionable to be polite. But I'm not taking anyone's opinion too seriously when they have to throw Twilight in there.
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8:38PM on 02/08/2014
Well I got to see it and took a non-reader friend with me. The first 3rd of the film is a hot mess. Apparently nobody could come up with decent lead in to the movie to set the stage and explain the world to the audience without using the dreaded voice over. Somehow this isn't a problem with the book and the book jumps right in without baby sitting the reader. Anyhow, after the very rough intro and some ridiculous over the top acting by the secondaries the movie shifts to the main characters.
Well I got to see it and took a non-reader friend with me. The first 3rd of the film is a hot mess. Apparently nobody could come up with decent lead in to the movie to set the stage and explain the world to the audience without using the dreaded voice over. Somehow this isn't a problem with the book and the book jumps right in without baby sitting the reader. Anyhow, after the very rough intro and some ridiculous over the top acting by the secondaries the movie shifts to the main characters. There it does find itself and I finally recognized some of the spark of the original story. I don't know. It could have been so much better, but the bad begining proves it could have been worse. Sadly, this series had great potetional but this was an iffy start and has probably robbed it's chances of going anywhere.
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3:46AM on 02/10/2014
Would NOT be surprised at all if it turned out to have a last minute re-write *and* a last minute re-shoot. Those two guys might have a mixed-bag filmography of ups and downs, but over-explanation and over-exposition are most certainly not a common criticism about their films. And let's face it, it's a YA vampire movie. I don't think any directors out there would shed too many tears if that kind of work got butchered by their producers.

To be fair, though - City of Ember is actually
Would NOT be surprised at all if it turned out to have a last minute re-write *and* a last minute re-shoot. Those two guys might have a mixed-bag filmography of ups and downs, but over-explanation and over-exposition are most certainly not a common criticism about their films. And let's face it, it's a YA vampire movie. I don't think any directors out there would shed too many tears if that kind of work got butchered by their producers.

To be fair, though - City of Ember is actually pretty good.
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