Title: Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy #1)
Author: Richelle Mead
Series: Vampire Academy
This past weekend, Vampire Academy became the latest YA adaption to hit the big screen; did any of y’all see see it? Judging from the box office returns and the sparse attendance when I saw it in on opening night, I’m gonna guess NO. Lucky for you, I watched it so you don’t have to! (And you reeeeally don’t have to, TRUST.)
But if you insist on watching it anyway — purely for scientific research, of course — I’ve put together a drinking game for you! There’s not enough alcohol in the world to make the movie any better, but drinking will def. help you forget it ever happened.
The Official FYA Vampire Academy Drinking Game
Take a sip* whenever:
*You can take a drink instead, for ease of remembering, but I’d seriously worry that you’ll die.
- Someone’s fangs are bared
- You think, “Holy shizz, SUCH BAD ACTING” or similar
Take a drink whenever:
- Rose’s eyes go wonky and she channels whatever Lissa’s seeing
- Someone gets compelled
- There’s a flashback
- Someone says ‘Vampire Academy’
- Someone says ‘destiny’
Take a shot whenever:
- A word that Rose’s voiceover is defining is shown on screen
- Someone gets staked
- You hear the psi-hounds howling
Chug a glass of H2O whenever:
- Natalie is babbling — ’cause girl, don’t you get PARCHED?
Chug for the duration of:
- Queen Tatiana’s entrance music (“Good lord! That’s HER music!”)
- Lissa feeding on Rose
Finish your drink when:
- Headmistress Kirova uses a tiny old-timey megaphone
- Mia says all Dragomirs are drags
- the psi-hounds’ eyes change colours
Under no circumstance should you drink during*, due to high unintentional snortworthiness:
*Although drink as necessary once your laughter is under control.
- Rose and Dmitri scenes (when the dress gets burned, LOLOLOL)
- the first appearance of the super unimpressive basement lair
- the villain monologue in the basement
- the “Please give us money to make a sequel” scene at the end
Being the observant scientists that you are, you may have already surmised that my Vampire Academy experience was an unenjoyable one. Au contraire, mes soeurs et frères! Granted, my favourite parts of the night happened before the movie even started; I got to see the trailers for The Fault in Our Stars, Veronica Mars, and Divergent again! And BEST STORY EVER: when I was buying my ticket, I got carded, LOL WUT THIS MOVIE IS RATED PG. Thanks for chortles, actual young person at the box office!
ANYWAY. Before we begin our analysis, I must disclose that I haven’t actually read the books; any pre-existing knowledge I had of Vampire Academy going into the movie came from Dr. Sarah’s academic papers. But my (relative) lack of bias made me an ideal candidate for the control group. More importantly, I was the only FYAer willing to see this in theatres, so this is me taking one for the team.
And even though I didn’t have high expectations for the movie, I at least tried to give it the benefit of the doubt. After all, it has the same director as Mean Girls and the same writer as Heathers, and I like Mean Girls and Heathers! What could possibly go wrong? (Spoiler alert: A LOT.)
So slip on your lab coats, put on your safety glasses, and let’s science it up!
Zoey Deutch as Rose
As someone who willingly subjected herself to every single episode of Ringer, I probably like Zoey Deutch a lot more than I should. While I have no problem buying Zoey as a badass (even though her hair’s never tied back in actual fights, but whatevs), even she couldn’t sell a lot of the lines she was saddled with. It seems like Rose is supposed to be a Dhampir Buffy* — a wise-cracking and ass-kicking heroine — but I didn’t find any of her incessant chatter to be witty at all. Although she does wear the heck out of that jacket. (And cleav. So much cleavage.)
*Ha, Sarah made the same comparison too, so it must be legit!
Lucy Fry as Lissa
I didn’t really form much of an opinion on Lissa, although I do like the BFF chemistry between Lucy Fry and Zoey Deutch. Lucy herself is fairly inoffensive most of the time (high praise, I know!), but her acting got a liiiittle shaky (or OK, maybe more than a little) when she had to show more range.
Danila Kozlovsky as Dimitri
Let me begin by saying that it must be extremely difficult to act in a language other than the one that you usually speak, and that actors have no control over aesthetic choices that a movie makes (THAT HAIR). But there was so not enough hotness* to silence the EWWW CREEPY INSTRUCTOR alarms. Does not help that Rose even remarks that he’s almost old enough to be her father (and the fact that she doesn’t know her own paternity gave me pause**). And seeing Dimitri in fratty college sleepwear didn’t help de-age him, either; it actually made him look worse — being an old that lives in a dorm — and it seriously undermined his dressed-all-in-dark vibe.
*Not the fault of Danila Kozlovsky’s visage, which is actually quite fortunate when paired with better hair. But he kind of reminds me of Shane West? But I also loved Shane West from ages 13 to 14, so obvs I don’t mind.
**OMG I kind of wish the books would go there. I mean, GROSS obvs, but it’d be such a huge F.U. to shippers, I’d love it.
Then I tried thinking of why I’m OK with a similar dynamic in Divergent — both characters and actors — but not here. I’ve always been OK with Tris and Four, and although I was skeptical about Theo James at first, I love him now, and we’re very happy together in my delusions. But there’s a greater age difference between Zoey and Danila than Shailene and Theo (seven years vs. nine), and Zoey’s younger than Shailene, too.
Plus, Four may start off as Tris’ instructor, but they’re pretty much equals after Tris’ initiation. Dimitri, on the other hand, works at Rose’s school, and he chaperones the occasional school dance.
Pro-tip: Do not make your YA love interest carry a clipboard.
But going back to being a complete vanity monster: one of the only things I remembered from Sarah’s book report of Vampire Academy was her Dimitri casting. So forgive my disappointment when Dimitri reminded me of another poorly-coiffed vampire as opposed to the tall blond True Blood comparison that I was hoping for.
Dominic Sherwood as Christian
Christian’s such a mysterious loner dude, so obvs I liked him (until I kind of didn’t, but more on that later), even if he’s just a poor man’s Edward Cullen with the brooding and the hair. But I’d pick Dominic Sherwood over RPatz any day.
Sami Gayle as Mia
I’ve only ever seen Sami Gayle play a too-good-to-be-true character on Blue Bloods (which I couldn’t stick with, even for Will Estes), so a cartoony villain like Mia is def. a change of pace. Sami has the smug face down, so uhhh way to go?
Sarah Hyland as Natalie
This is the same face I make when someone’s trying to convince me that Sarah Hyland is anything but gorgeous; NICE TRY, MOVIE. Hollywood, stop trying to make the Laney Boggs Effect happen! IT’S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. Like slapping a pair of thick frames on Sarah Hyland is going to turn her into a dork that has boyfolk recoiling in fear.
Cameron Monaghan as Mason
And in continuing with characters we’re supposed to believe are hideous beasts, Mason is the Duckie to Rose’s Andie (and she even points that out herself). But UGHHHH if only he wasn’t so REPULSIVE to look at, amirite?! (I love Cameron on Shameless. And as I had stated in my articulate notes, “UMMM MASON = HOT”, if a bit Nice Guy-ish.)
Olga Kurylenko as Headmistress Kirova
Olga looks fantastic (look at her rock that red lip!) and her character has fabulously cracked out wardrobe. But OMG, THE SCENERY CHEWING. There’s also a brief scene that she has act all drugged up and about to pass out; let’s just say (intentional) comedy is not her forté AT ALL.
Gabriel Byrne as Natalie’s father, Victor
Oh, Professor Bhaer. How far you have fallen. (But at least that’s not what you really look like IRL.)
Joely Richardson as Queen Tatiana
And here’s Joely Richardson’s retroactive audition tape for Narcissa Malfoy. Also, it’s kind of ridic that a monarch is visiting a high school so much, even if a bunch of its students are royals.
The scientists that I saw the movie with surmised that the film was fairly faithful, with an extra action scene here and there. As an sort-of-objective newcomer to the series, I didn’t have a lot of trouble with the mythology — not only because it’s not that hard to follow,* but the movie spells out EVERYTHING for you. There’s wayyy too much tell and not enough show; SO MUCH CLUNKY EXPOSITION, you guys. Is this truly from the same person who wrote Heathers? Veronica, why are you pulling my dick?
*With the exception of the Strigoi, at least in the beginning. Would it have been so difficult to show a redshirt turning into a Strigoi instead of voice-overing everything? And if I had any give-a-shits left, I’d like to know why the Academy has to be completely cut off from the outside world. Or maybe it was explained, but I already started tuning out the movie.
If all else fails (and fails it does), this movie should at least deliver on Richelle Mead’s signature swoon, right? Except the Rose and Dimitri pairing seems like a contrived, one-sided schoolgirl crush, so their resolution feels wholly unearned. (And OMG they ‘flirt’ over hair. Not about how hers is luminous and his is abhorrent, but still.)
I was a lot more invested in Lissa and Christian, up until their big DRAMZ (skip for spoilers): they’re arguing about something I’ve already blocked from my mind, so then he kisses her, and she says she hates him. Are we lifting storylines from soap operas now? Shit, you only wish you were as entertaining as Passions, movie. Anyway, I forget exactly why I started souring on Christian, but it’s not a good sign when the romances are the most unrealistic part of a paranormal vampire movie.
On a scale of Breaking Dawn, Part 1 to Catching Fire, how enjoyable was this movie?
I tried to pinpoint the precise reason why this movie didn’t work for me — I am a scientist, after all — but how could I pick favourites when there are so many for me to choose from?!
Not only does the dialogue suffer from exposition overload, but there are just way too many WORDS. It’s like the movie’s afraid of everyone shutting up for more than two Mississippis, and letting the lines B-R-E-A-T-H-E. The characters often seem like they’re rushing to get all their words out, and they really can’t hit those comedic beats. This movie is just trying SO HARD to be funny, like the most painful kind of laugh track comedy; yep, I know you want me to laugh here, but you’re not giving me anything to work with.
Speaking of nothing to work with, the characterization is super weak. The movie didn’t pay enough attention to developing personalities, or, y’know, simple motivation for why people were doing anything. Like, there’d be a barrage of words, but I wouldn’t actually be hearing anything. Most of the time, the characters felt like mouthpieces for moving the plot along.
And OH GAWD, the plot. Maybe I’ve been spoiled by vampires on TV, but the Big Bad seemed WAY weaksauce. The stakes were so low that I can’t even enjoy the vampire pun I just made. AND I REALLY ENJOY MAKING PUNS, Y’ALL.
Despite my (numerous, verbose) gripes about this movie, it actually wasn’t all bad. (Only, like, overwhelmingly so.) It’s always and sadly refreshing to have a friendship between two girls in the forefront (yay, Bechdel Test?). And the movie did eventually reach that vaunted so-bad-it’s-good territory for me, although I had to wade through far too much shittiness for the switch to flip from plain ol’ BAD. Still, the movie hasn’t dissuaded me from reading the book one day, just because I’m really hoping that this mess was not what the pages had intended.
So what do you think, fellow scientists? Do you concur with my thesis? And if you haven’t made your own observations on Vampire Academy yet, are you planning to do so? Or would you do anything for science, but you won’t do that? Share your findings in the comments!