December 15, 2014 Vampire Academy (Movie Review)
Vampire Academy, released by The Weinstein Company (Inglourious Basterds 2009, Halloween II 2009) on February 7th, 2014 is based on the best-selling book of the same name by Richelle Mead. Written by Daniel Waters (Happy Campers 2001, Sex and Death 101 2007), and directed by his older brother Mark (500 Days of Summer 2009, Mr. Popper’s Penguins 2011), Vampire Academy focuses on Moroi vampire Lissa Dragomir (Lucy Fry: Fools Gold 2008, Now Add Honey 2014), the last princess in the dragon line of her family of vampires. Her guardian to be is also her best friend, Rose Hathaway (Zoey Deutch: The Amazing Spider-man 2012, Beautiful Creatures 2013), a Dhamhpir (half human half vampire), and a year ago they fled the academy and have been on the run. Rose cannot protect them forever and they are dragged back to the academy by Rose’s Dhampir mentor Dimitri Belikov (Danila Kozolvsky: It All Began in Harbin 2013, Dubrovsky 2013) to face the wrath of the headmistress Ellen Kirova (Olga Kurylenko: Seven Psychopaths 2012, Oblivion 2013). However, Prince Victor Dashkov (Gabriel Byrne: All Things to All Men 2013, Quirke 2014) offers the girls some kindness and they escape punishment, for now.
While they have been gone, some things have changed, as well as them. This brings the ire of some of their classmates, in particular Mia (Sami Gayle: The Congress 2013, Noah 2014), and they start receiving strange threatening messages. To complicate matters, Rose and Lissa’s bond means they are linked into each other’s thoughts, dreams, and nightmares while they are dealing with being young women. There are great deals of expectations on Lissa, being the last of her line, and she still has not declared a power yet. Lissa’s powers are complex and far different than the rest of the Moroi, which is making them all nervous. Rose and Lissa are soon joined by Victor’s daughter Natalie (Sarah Hyland: Modern Family series, Scary Movie 5 2013), while Christian Ozera (Dominic Sherwood: Edge of Tears 2012, Take Down 2014), whose parents had turned to the dark side as Strigoi, loves Lissa but needs to make peace with his past.
With threats coming from out of nowhere, the disappearance of their favorite teacher Miss Sonya Karp (Claire Foy: Vivaldi 2013, Crossbones 2014), and being bullied, Lissa and Rose start falling apart. Lissa decides it is time to embrace her powers including ‘compulsion’, which mesmerizes people and makes them do what you ask. It works, and the bullies start backing off, even apologizing at the Equinox Dance. Rose starts looking into Lissa’s powers of regeneration while Lissa uses her powers more, which due to their link means it drains Rose as well. Rose finds Lissa may be linked to their Saint, Saint Vladimir, who experienced similar powers; the same powers that are rumored to drive the person crazy and have tragic consequences. Eventually the head mistress and Queen Tatiana Ivashkov (Joely Richardson: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 2011, Endless Love 2014), who had previously rebuked Lissa for her lack of powers, realizes how special Lissa actually is. They find they have to battle forthcoming Strigois, a group of warped and twisted evil vampires that are hell bent on death and pain.
The race is on to keep Lissa safe until she is sequestered to the High Advisors, but the biggest threat is not outside the Academy grounds, and it comes as a complete surprise. Lissa and Rose must band together and be stronger than ever before if they want to survive. They do not know who to trust as the pieces of the puzzle fall together. Vampire Academy is well-acted, though it does feel that you are stepping into the middle of the story rather than the start. Aimed at a young adult audience, it delivers plenty of sass and pop culture references to keep the viewer entertained with lots of action and great special effects. While it probably helps to have read the book, it is not vital. The ending and the style of the film leave it open for a sequel or even a television series. While it did not do well at the box office, it is a good solid film with plenty of twists and turns. The characters are believable and there is a lot of diversity in the vampire realm. CrypticRock gives Vampire Academy 3 out of 5 stars.