Starring: Zoey Deutch, Lucy Fry, Danila Kozlovsky, Gabriel Byrne, Dominic Sherwood, Olga Kurylenko, Sarah Hyland, Cameron Monaghan, Sami Gayle, Ashley Charles, Claire Foy, Joely Richardson, Dominique Tipper, and more.
Directed by: Mark Waters Screenplay by: Daniel Waters Based on the Novel by: Richelle Mead Cinematography by: Tony Pierce-Roberts Music by: Rolfe Kent
Premise: After a year living among normal people, Lissa Dragomir and her protector, Rose Hathaway, are found again by the Guardians of the Vampire Academy. Lissa and Rose are the only survivors of a terrible car accident two years prior. One which has made Lissa the sole remaining Dragomir, and one who is in line for the throne. Not that the way she's treated by everyone at the academy makes her feel like she's actually anyone important. But her special bond with Rose, which goes beyond their survival of the crash, might be the one thing which will keep her out of evil's clutches. (PG-13)
1) Acting - Total Thumbs Up: Zoey Deutch was so much fun as Rose Hathaway. As the main character, her delivery of Rose's 'snark' and general 'speak her mind' attitude gave the film a lot of zing. Lucy Fry played a very convincing Lissa, demure and reserved yet slowly flowering into the queen she might yet be. Dominic Sherwood did great as the first smitten, later spurned, then boyfriend and Rose's 'frienemie'. Sarah Hyland and Sami Gayle were very convincing as their roles slowly changed through the film.
2) Special Effects - Total Thumbs Up: Since the Moroi are magic wielders, this gave ample opportunities for the special effects department to show us some neat little special effects. The change in Rose's eyes whenever she tuned in to Lissa looked great. And so did the Strigoi - the truly undead vampires in this universe. Their wolves were all right, though most special effect groups do seem to have a hard time with them. But definite praise should be given for the transformation which occurs late in the film - it was so seamless you almost didn't even realize it happened. A very impressive piece of work.
3) Story - Total Thumbs Up: Viewers are rushed about a little as a lot of information is fed to us very fast. Rose's continued commentary, however, helps with the transition. For the short 104 minutes of the film and the amount of history needed to be imparted to viewers to give them a sense of the world they were viewing, the screenplay did a pretty good job. I've not read the series the film is based on, but overall I felt I was given enough information to have a decent 'clue' on what was going on and why.
This is film based on a young adult series, so it brings up a lot of the usual issues in high school, except these are between living, magic using vampires and the half breeds who protect them. But there's also deeper machinations going on, like the fact Rose was compelled to get her and Lissa to run away the year before in the first place.
It does take some getting used to to think of the vampires at the academy as being alive and of another, very dangerous group who are actually the true undead. But as with any good story, the obvious bad guys aren't always the ones you really need to worry about. Not at first.
4) Stunts - Total Thumbs Up: Some neat training scenes and some definitely cooler combat scenes kept the stunt team quite busy. Add a few bits of magic later on, and the fights got even more of a kick.
Conclusion: "Vampire Academy" is a fast, fun ride. Some twists and turns and not all of them obvious. A cool introduction to a convoluted world.
Rating: 4 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Full Price of Admission)