Based on the series of novels by Richelle Mead and with a screenplay written by Daniel Waters who also penned the screenplays for the likes of Demolition Man and Batman Returns, Vampire Academy is a teenage fantasy drama with a hint of comedy and a speckle of horror and comes at a time when these types of films are, what you might call, all the rage. Directed by Marc Waters, who is no stranger to teenage films as he was behind the camera for movies such as Mean Girls and Freaky Friday and the family fantasy adventure flick The Spiderwick Chronicles.
I imagine many people will see the cover to this film and get an immediate urge to compare it to, and even write it off as, another Twilight movie. It is understandable that people would feel this way too, with a large amount of teen fantasy movies and television shows saturating the market currently. Still, this film does offer a little bit of something different from Twilight and films like it, and I’ll tell you why.
Vampire Academy follows a character named Rose, played by Ellen Page-alike Zoey Deutch (Beautiful Creatures) who is a half-human, half-vampire, called dhampir, and is training to be a guardian at the academy. We learn that there are good vampires called Moroi who live peacefully alongside the human populace while feeding on willing humans for sustenance. There are also evil, bad, naughty and very unpleasant vampires, called Strigoi, who don’t live peacefully alongside humans, but rather bite them, suck them and kill them. Boom, bang, splat. Rose forms an unbreakable bond with a vampire princess called Vasilisa and vows to protect her from the evil vampires who target her and the other good vamps, because… well… they’re evil.
This is basically the premise of the film, two vampire mage-like girls run from evil blood-suckers while trying to discover secrets and stuff regarding the past of the vampire school that they attend. It feels like Twilight at times but is less corny and the performances don’t feel as wooden or awkward to watch. The storyline isn’t exactly original, but the element of Rose, a spunky and sarcastic lead character, helps the story along with elements of humour that is often missing from these teen fantasy flicks.
The film did drag at time for me and I felt like the story was something I very well could have seen a half-dozen times before in other genre titles. The look of the film felt a little lazy too, there was no real attempt by the cinematographer to offer anything new as far as the film’s visual aspects, which is something that could have set it apart from the pack. Still, the film wasn’t bad and the actors did a decent job of telling their stories. It just isn’t going to change any lives or cause any inspiration, it’s just an okay fantasy adventure that is designed, mostly, for fans of the books and teens who dig the less horrific style of vampire.
It would be all too easy to rip films like this to pieces without giving them a chance, and I don’t like “easy” so I didn’t hate this. It just isn’t something I will necessarily watch again, but then again, I’m not the demographic that this movie is aimed at.
Vampire Academy is available in the US on DVD & Blu-ray and will be available in the UK later in 2014.