Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Review: Vampire Academy (Movie)

This blog is primarily dedicated to reviewing written fiction, mostly YA fiction, but I think a review of the occasional film adaption shakes things up nicely.  As it happens, the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead is one of my favorite YA collections.  So when the film adaptation came out, I was NOWHERE near the theatre.  I was too attached to my own vision of the series to risk tainting it with a Hollywood bastardization. 

Since then, my curiosity has won out, and I found myself renting Vampire Academy from my local Redbox. I told myself that, if I was watching the movie critically for the blog, it would sting less if I hated it. So, here I go... 

(Spoiler Free!)

Minute 1: Of course the movie starts out with a car driving at night on a misty road.  Most Supernatural episodes start this way. The Vampire Diaries pilot started this way. It's a classic trope.
Minute 2: This movie is moving at quite a rapid clip. Zoey Deutch, as Rose, is hilarious.
Minute 4: Holy Moses, Dimitri (Danila Kozlovsky) looks like he's in his thirties. Although, to be fair, it may be impossible for me to be pleased by Kozlovsky's performance, as Ben Barnes will always be my mental image of Dimitri.
Minute 5: Could they have explained the Dhampir/Moroi/Strigoi situation without powerpoint?  
Minute 7: Getting out my nail polish...
Minute 9: The setting for the Academy is outstanding.  It's like Hogwarts with modern flair. 
Minute 11: My main complaint is how fast paced the movie has been so far.  I feel like they must have sped up Rose's narration in post-production; she's almost a chipmunk.
 Minute 22: I just realized the cuts are extremely rapid.  That, most certainly, contributes to the frenetic pace.
Minute 26: I officially don't like the movie so far, due to the feverish pace and the lack of Ben Barnes. 
 Minute 36: There is no temporal space between the actor's lines. One actor speaks rapidly and then another one begins to speak rapidly. I understand that the filmmakers had a lot of material to get through, with some complicated variations of well-known vampire mythology to explain, but whose brain can think this fast? 
Minute 43:  Mia's hair is fugly. 
Minute 47: I've made a final opinion.  The book Vampire Academy is ill-suited for film adaption.  This movie should not have been made.
Minute 58: A TV series would have been better. 
Minute 61: They're spending so much time explaining things, there is no time for anything else but exposition. 
Minute 64: Our main characters are shopping at the mall now and there's a long take, and it's so relaxing.  
Minute 68: It appears that the filmmakers are trying to make Vampire Academy a twist on the typical teen movie.  We have the "obligatory cafeteria scene," in Rose's words, which was a meta moment.  Then there's the shopping expedition and the school dance.  I think this might have worked out, except that they forgot to put in a montage. 
Minute 73: "I like your drey-usss. It's puuurrty." *dies laughing*

Minute 80: Hmmm, which is worse CGI? The Twilight wolves or the Vampire Academy psyhounds? This issue might keep me up at night. 
Minute 82: This movie does the book SUCH a disservice.  
Minute 84: According to Box Office Mojo, the movie made $15,391,979 worldwide.  To contrast, Divergent made $274,945,239 worldwide.  
Minute 90: It's the final climactic moment, yet, I feel no tension. I'm just bored.   
Minute 94: Okay, okay, I am smiling at that final kiss. That was funny. 
Minute 96: I think that final moment before credits was supposed to set up an adaption of book 3, skipping over book 2, Frostbite. However, another movie probably won't happen due to Vampire Academy's poor box office performance. 

Overall thoughts: I still think this movie should not have been made.  Its editing was. a. disaster.  Such a breakneck pace is just not enjoyable.  Likewise, "dreamboat" Dimitri kinda sorta grossed me out.  Danila Kozlovsky has too old of an appearance for him to be a non-squicky love interest for a teenage girl. 

That being said, the movie did have some nice moments.  Zoey Deutch was frequently hilarious; she had great delivery of her quippy lines.  The female friendship was a nice element, and I thought the set design and costuming were fantastic.

 BUT, speaking as a fan of the book series, the film was not satisfying.  I can pick up my copy of Vampire Academy, and derive more pleasure from reading two pages than from  watching the entire movie adaption. The film doesn't bring anything new and worthwhile to the table, and doesn't surpass the books in any aspect. I ultimately pan this movie, but hey, I've watched worse things while waiting for my nails to dry.

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