Oh look, another adaptation of a young adult franchise involving magic, irresistibly good looking vampires and a convoluted overarching fantasy narrative. Vampire Academy is director Mark Waters taking the bad parts of Harry Potter and all the worst parts of Twilight, and mashing them together to create a spiritual successor to his claim to fame: Mean Girls.
The movie starts with an onslaught of exposition that isn’t very interesting and makes very little sense. The gist is that there are two different kinds of vampires: the handsome romantic peaceful kind we’re all getting sick of, and actual vampires that are murderous and bloodthirsty. The two feuding factions of vampires are kept in check by guardians, or half human/half vampires. Rose (Zoey Deutch) is a guardian to Lissa (Lucy Fry), a royal vampire in the last of her bloodline that must be protected for mysterious reasons. After escaping St. Vladamir’s school for gifted vampires and hiding out in Oregon for two years, they are located and swiftly brought back to resume training.
Naturally, training isn’t the only thing that goes on, as we are immediately subjected to a host of annoying teenage characters that act nothing like actual teenagers, and the most cliché assortment of magical powers imaginable. The only real mystery comes from the secretive and seemingly untrustworthy adults that are quite obviously hiding evil and nefarious plans.
There’s also a lot of painfully generic high school romance that is neither realistic nor engaging. As usual, it is just a bunch of attractive characters falling for each other because hey, they’re attractive and that’s what sells. Vampire Academy may even top Twilight‘s creepiness levels considering that there are multiple scenes of Rose swooning over her combat trainer (who is old enough to be her father). The film even travels to the very bottom of the spiral by including a PG-13 friendly sex scene between the two. I seriously wish I were joking, but I am not.
Aside from a plethora of cheesy and ridiculous love scenes, there is also a never-ending amount of awkward humor. Rose will interject into serious conversations with pop culture jokes so cringe-worthy that only a teenager in a young adult film would make them. What’s even more hilarious is that 90% of the time the characters don’t even acknowledge the jokes and instead move on with the more serious tone of the film. It’s almost as if the writers were too embarrassed to even acknowledge their own jokes.
Tonally, the movie is all over the place as well, giving off the impression that the entire story just has no idea what it wants to be. When you are going from awkward teenage romance to a scene introducing a mystery revolving around a gutted fox, that’s my cue take a step back and ask myself what the hell I am even watching. It’s obvious that there is an intention to take what worked in Mean Girls and put it into Vampire Academy, but the subject material just doesn’t allow it to flow.
And then there are the occasional action sequences which are choreographed and executed with the least bit of creativity. Apparently, all being a guardian for a vampire entails is that you’re skilled in hand-to-hand combat and can stab a vampire with a stake when given the opportunity. The movie also has a fascination with showing characters fly 40 feet across the screen from just one moderately sized kick or toss.
The ultimate reason that Vampire Academy fails on all levels though is due to how much exposition is actually peppered throughout all this nonsense. After having seen the film, it’s still not clear why the two factions are feuding with one another, other than your most basic good versus evil reasoning. The film even admits this through Rose, as she states “At this point I can’t remember who loves us or hates us.”
Furthermore, the self-contained story for this first film is so muddled and confusing, that when the villain is finally revealed, it’s tough to gauge even what he/she really wants. It doesn’t matter anyway, because he/she is a completely worthless villain with some of the silliest plans ever. There is no climactic showdown, but a rather anti-climactic battle involving some horrendously rendered CGI wolves, that ends before it even begins.
Vampire Academy is a movie, but that’s all I can really give it. Fans of the book may appreciate some of what’s here, but to the general moviegoing public, the film is yet another completely lifeless and utterly useless YA adaptation.
Vampire Academy is just another failure in a long line of similarly structured experiences. Quite frankly, the fact that there are six of these books blows my mind.