Rose Hathaway (Deutch) is a Dhampir: half human/vampire, guardians of the Moroi, peaceful, mortal vampires living discretely within our world. Her legacy is to protect the Moroi from bloodthirsty, immortal Vampires, the Strigoi. This is her story.
The movies have not always been kind when they have adapted Young Adult novels.
Harry Potter is generally seen as a good series, The Twlight movies were generally seen as terrible to anyone that wasn’t already a Twilight fan. Even the first Hunger Games movie was seen as a solid adaptation that had some issues.
Fast forward to 2013. Last year gave us Beautiful Creatures (terrible if you’ve read the books, terribly confusing if you hadn’t), The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (terrible if you’ve read the books, generic bland and boring fantasy movie if you haven’t) and one of the few truly excellent adaptations of any genre Catching Fire.
I went into this movie rather concerned. The trailers didn’t feel right (and all the reassurances from Richelle Mead that the movie wasn’t funny, they just edited the trailor to make it look funny couldn’t alleviate that), the premiere date was abruptly bumped up a week after promotional materials had been sent to theaters and the studio didn’t screen the film for critics. None of these things gave me confidence in this film.
So was I wrong to be skeptical?
I will give credit where credit is due: Vampire Academy is probably the most faithful book-to-film adaptation of any YA genre series since The Hunger Games. It was really solid and felt quite faithful to the source material. Another point on the plus side is that I believe that you could go into this film without having read the books and not get lost. The pertinent aspects of the mythology were explained and explained in a way that it didn’t feel like an information dump and the plot was left intact so the movie went from point A to point B in a logical manner.
On the downside, I do think there was a slight miscast when they picked the actor who played Dmitri. He didn’t do anything wrong, but he looks at least ten years older than Rose, and seeing a man who appears to be in his late twenties hitting on a girl whose is supposed to be in her late teens? Kinda creepy. The pop culture references felt shoe-horned in and there was a truly eye-roll inducing speech by Lissa at the end of the film that was literally “stop the bullying and stop the slut shaming, the Moroi are better than this!” that was out of place, but thankfully, this wasn’t turned into a comedy like the trailer led some of us to believe.
Overall though, I came out of this moving feeling exactly as I felt about the book: it’s solidly done, if unremarkable movie about vampires in high school. I will say that I’m in the camp that agrees that the series does get better (at least Frostbite does) in later books and I would go see Frostbite if it were made, which is a testament to the respect and care the director and writer gave to the source material.
So should you see it?
My answer to this is really going to come down to where you stand before the film. Fans of the books should (and seem to be) enjoying the movie. If you’re middling on the books, or didn’t care for the books, this movie won’t change your mind. If the trailers made you curious about this or the books, then yeah, go see it. The movie reflects the book well enough that it should tell you whether you should pick up the books. As for the rest of the public, you can probably skip it. It’s not a bad movie, but it isn’t so good that you need to seek it out either.
Verdict: Wait for Netflix/RedBox. If you were making plans to see it in the theater, you should probably try to do so quickly. Realistically, it probably won’t last beyond a second week.
In Theaters: Now