What you don’t want an adaptation of an incredibly popular series to do is stop the people liking the series altogether. Sadly, this is what The Vampire Academy movie did for me.
Vampire Academy is a best-selling series of six young adult novels by Richelle Mead. It tells the story of Rose Hathaway, a seventeen-year-old Dhampir girl (Human-Vampire hybrid), who is training to be a guardian (think bodyguard) of her Moroi (Upper-class Vampire) best friend, Lissa Dragomir. In the process of learning how to defeat Strigoi (the evil undead vampires) in St. Vladimir’s Academy, Rose finds herself caught in a forbidden romance with her instructor, Dimitri Belikov, while having an unbreakable psychic bond with Lissa, after Lissa uses her unique gift (Spirit) to bring Rose back to life after a car crash that kills all of Lissa’s family. They girls stick together through love, enemies, teen drama and Lissa’s power, that is slowly tearing her apart. It’s a dark funny romantic Vampire story with a strong kickass but flawed female leading the way.
I liked The Vampire Academy series (even with the hideous covers).Rose Hathaway is an amazing strong awesome female character who has flaws as well as being badass. The friendship between Rose and Lissa is a relationship as realistically rocky as many teen friendships have, even without the whole Moroi and Dhampir society bullshit. Plus, Vampire Academy was one of the series at the centre of the vampire madness of my teen years.
However, when the movie was produced it was a letdown. First, it came out way too late. It was released in 2014 a whole two years’ after the last instalment of Twilight was released. This was an overlook by the studio and the author. If it had been released at the height of the vampire craze it may have even got a sequel or at least made more money. After all, we had moved on to the dystopian with the release of The Hunger Games starring Jennifer Lawrence. Vampires were lame and the Vampire fans had been shunned into the dark corners of fandoms.
The movie itself is not great. It’s entertaining but not even close to the book. The choice of directed by Mark Waters, known for mean girls, was the first indication we would not be getting a darker less tween like vampire movie but the screenwriter responsible for Heathers (amazing movie!) did give me a little hope. I was wrong.
The mixture of teen comedy and darkness did not work with this film let alone the horrendous dialogue that felt almost insulting to fans of the series. Lines such as; “Why were you in the hospital? Pregnant? Herpes? Maybe your baby has herpes. I don’t care if it’s true. I’ll tell everyone.” Had no place in this society of intelligent rich ancient creatures. I was hoping to have a Vampire movie that showed that we knew that Vampires are monsters at heart. Instead, we got dialogue that dumbed down the story.
I understand that comedy has a place in Vampire Academy. Rose’s sass and one-liners were something that attracted me to the character.
The usual exposition and voice over feel like they didn’t have enough time to explain things in a smart way but the funniest thing was the obligatory foggy forest shot that was so prevalent in Twilight, which the movie makes fun of multiple times and of people who like vampires! The continuous vampire puns are monotonous and the “I’m not like most girls” bullshit is irritating especially to a highly female audience.
The two most powerful women in the series Ellen Kirova, Headmistress of St. Vladimir’s Academy and Tatiana Ivashkov, Queen of the “Vampire” society. In the movie, they are changed physically. Ellen is made younger which for me made her callousness less effective. Tatiana is dressed to the nines in the movies with cloak, sceptre and crown indicative of the English royal family. In the books, she is more business suits and ice. This made her less powerful. Her status is little to do with the power she wields. She was chosen and keeps her power in a vice like a grip. She doesn’t need all this flashy crap in the book.
It’s not all bad.
The fighting is believable and the friendship is thankfully mirror to the books. The villains are awesome and to someone who had not read the books the reveal would have been great. The cast is talented and showed real passion in interviews and behind the scenes. They did their best as many actors do with shitty dialogue.
However, in the end, The Vampire Academy series was not a set of books I was sad to say goodbye to and the film turned me off the spin-off series. A lot went wrong with this movie. But most of all it was the fact that Rachelle Mead didn’t jump on the chance to make an adaptation of her book mid Vampire era of pop culture.
Thanks for reading,