Wednesday 30 April 2014

Film vs. Novel: Vampire Academy - Richelle Mead


Rose Hathaway and best friend Lisa Dragomir are vampires. Lisa is the last of her royal family, a Moroi who could take up the throne. Rose is half human, half Moroi making her a Dhampir. Like other Dhampir her main purpose is to protect the Moroi from blood sucking, immortal vampires - the Strigoi.

When they get caught on the run, Rose and Lisa return to the St. Vladmir's Academy, the school that houses majority of the other Moroi and Dhampir. Behind those walls it seems Lissa is safe, but there are other dangers beside Strigoi who are waiting to bring Lissa down.


I was very, very skeptical about this movie right from the moment I watched the trailer. It was borderline silly and overdramatic and knowing that the director did Mean Girls really put me off. I was pleasantly surprised then, to find that Vampire Academy was thoroughly enjoyable and nothing like what I expected.

Now, I am writing this review based off the fact that I have read the series. I've seen reviews from critics absolutely bashing the movie, and I think I do understand some of their points. They felt as though it was choppy and viewers had to guess some things for themselves. The movie does move at a very fast pace considering the novel was not that long. I felt like it was condensed down quite well though. It's been awhile since I've read the book but I could remember all the scenes in the movie because they were basically the major parts. They did try to make up for missing parts with Rose narrating introductions and other moments. I didn't mind that though because I really couldn't see them showing it in any other way. Probably one thing that didn't get explained properly was some relationship developments. It was just a given after awhile.

What really had me breathe a sigh of relief was how well the tone was balanced as opposed to the trailer. For a series that had a more darker tone, I was worried that the movie would be humourous the entire way through. Instead, it was filmed with patches of snappy and sarcastic comments spread throughout to ease the tension. When it does come to the darker moments, there was enough suspense and background music to quicken my heartbeat. It did get creepy in some moments, especially when the Strigoi appeared (although I don't remember that happening in the book, I suppose it was used to explain the type of creature). Also a heads up for some gory moments.

Most of the "funny" moments were given to Rose, which was spot on with the book. Rose is a character with a snarky and sassy attitude, and I think Zoey Deutch did her justice. She really did fill Rose's role and did have that look about her. Not going to lie, Deutch is gorgeous and despite not being overly tanned, she did look like the Rose I imagined. I still stand by my claim that Lucy Fry does not suit the role of Lissa. I'm not saying she's a terrible actress, it's just not what I imagined Lissa to be like. I think that's the one thing that could go wrong with movie adaptations - the fact that the actor just doesn't seem right for the role. Dominic Sherwood though, did great as Christian Ozera (another Moroi). Props to Sarah Hyland for being dorky Natalie, and making her likeable. Special mention to Cameron Monaghan for being cute.

A character that I had a very big issue with was Headmistress Kirova. I swear she was suppose to be old but Olga Kurylenko is a gorgeous brunette who could definitely pass as a model. Already she was way off what I thought she would be like. And then she turned out to be catty and mean, and I was done. I couldn't deal with her when all I could remember of the Headmistress in the book was that she was sweet, a little strict, but very likeable.

The movie very much kept with the storyline of the book. It actually made for a great adaptation, because it didn't change much of what had occured. There were a few moments where I was like "umm, what's going on", but overall it was done quite well. There is still one question that has yet to be answered or even addressed, even though it came up briefly. Let's hope it'll come out in the next movie.

The setting was also quite spot on. The academy is very much an ancient castle, just internally modernised with technology. Also expect quite a few action scenes, which I liked. It kept the movie moving forward from the more trivial matters, such as the high school scenes. There is some teenage angst but considering the characters are 17 I don't blame them. Although I'm not sure the heated scenes are suitable for viewers any younger than 15. It is just a couple of scenes though.

I very much enjoyed Vampire Academy despite some strong doubts. It's not an exceptional movie but it made for a good book adaptation. Fans of the books should definitely see it, and those who want something easy and entertaining to watch. There wasn't much substance, but it still grabbed my attention and kept me hooked. I'm actually surprised at how much I liked it. I think it's more of a movie for those who want something to just watch and not think much about. It is rated PG 13+ but there are some swear words and vulgar scenes, so just a warning.

Keep in mind though, that my watching experience is different to someone who hasn't read the series.

Rating: 4/5