“With us, ‘weird’ doesn’t even begin to cover it.”
So says teen Rose Hathaway (Zoey Deutch, The CW’s RINGER) to her friend Lissa (Lucy Fry, MAIKO: ISLAND OF SECRETS), who wakes up screaming from another nightmare. Rose insists that’s no way to blend in with society—and the Jimmy Carter poster isn’t helping, either. “Come to the kitchen,” she says. “I’ll make your favorite.” A fluffernutter sandwich? Tofu? Not quite—think more along the lines of sinking teeth into a neck.
Rose is a Dhamphir, meaning she’s part-vampire and part-human, while Lissa is a Moroi, a breed that live off of blood but doesn’t get harmed by sunlight (or sparkle). (There are also the Strigoi, who are the resident bad guys, since they feed off of humans.) It’s been one year since the girls ran away from St. Vladimir’s Academy and it’s time—after a brief fight scene, complete with slow-motion—they come back.
St. Vladimir’s, with all of the dark cloaks and magic going on, immediately brings to mind Hogwarts. But there is so much more drama and nonsense going on here that it wouldn’t be surprising to find a Burn Book going around the halls.
VAMPIRE ACADEMY is based on Richelle Mead’s 2007 novel, the first in the series, which also includes works with titles like “Shadow Kiss,” “Blood Promise” and “Last Sacrifice.” (Considering VAMPIRE ACADEMY’s poor box office performance, it’s unlikely any of its sequels will be greenlit.) Like the books, the movie is just what teenage girls hankering for more safe vampire tales will be looking for. (One day they’ll get around to binge-watching TRUE BLOOD and see what pop culture vampires are really capable of.)
VAMPIRE ACADEMY isn’t as centered on romance as TWILIGHT was, but instead aims to please its target audience with pinches of MEAN GIRLS and its knockoffs. It seems like even the characters have been through these motions countless times, as at one point, Rose dully states, “And now for the obligatory cafeteria scene.” (Sure, it’s not an actual high school cafeteria, but the material still comes off as a nod to its own laziness.)
Not surprisingly (although it is, in a way, considering the difference in quality), VAMPIRE ACADEMY is directed by Mark Waters, whose most celebrates work is, yes, MEAN GIRLS, and written by his brother, Daniel, whose HEATHERS shares some of the same genes as the Lindsay Lohan favorite.
The source material may be the initial cause of all most of the movie’s negatives, but at least Mead put some research into the topic (surely the novel marked the first time any middle school girl had heard of a Strigoi). The filmmakers have no problem making their characters completely grating through casting (especially Lissa, who should spend less time enunciating and stroking her cat and more learning how to defend herself) and highlighting bad jokes that revolve around Twitter, Hot Topic and awful puns (“I can’t sit and wait around. The stakes are too high. Get it? Stakes?”).
VAMPIRE ACADEMY will probably appeal to those that read the book (or wanted to), but the tagline of “They Suck At School” shows just how much brains went in.
Video: 2.39:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. This is a very good high-definition transfer, boasting fine details/textures in clothing, skin tones and settings, as well as strong black levels during the night scenes.
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. Subtitles in Spanish. The audio transfer offers clean dialogue and a stable score that adds to the intended atmosphere.
A Conversation with Author Richelle Mead (2:51): Mead discusses her novel and its adaptation.
Alternate Opening (1:20): This animated opening introduces viewers to Moroi, Strigoi and Dhampir.
Deleted Scenes (4:18): There are five brief ones here, which can be viewed separately or as a whole. They are: “Out of My Pay Grade,” “Dress Shopping,” “Party Flashback,” “Why Did We Leave the Academy?” and “Microwave Mini Taquitos.”