Monday, 4 August 2014

Vampire Academy (2014)

Marketed as being from the director of Mean Girls, Vampire Academy serves as a sobering reminder that a movie is not made by the director alone. He needs a talented team around him, including a great writer, and a decent cast. Neither of these things are present here.

The plot goes thus: Rose Hathaway (Zoey Deutch) is a sorta-vampire who protects nice vampires (in her case, it's her BFF Lissa, played by Lucy Fry) from attack by nasty vampires. They both attend the titular vampire academy, which is ruled over by headmistress Kirova (Olga Kurylenko), and Rose attempts to further her training under the watchful eye of Dimitri (Danila Kozlovsky) while Lissa tries to make life easier for both of them by using magic on those who decide to give them a hard time. And that's quite a few people, although it's hard to figure out just who is the most serious about actually causing any harm to Lissa.

I've probably made Vampire Academy sound better than it really is with that description. Or, if you think I've made it sound pretty dull, I may have got it just right. It's an unexciting, unfunny movie, the kind of tick-the-boxes stuff that makes you feel annoyed while it plays out in all of its smug glory.

Deutch is hampered by the fact that she's not Ellen Page. I'm sorry, but she looks and sounds so much like her that it's impossible to watch the film and not imagine she was the second choice for the role. Fry may not call anyone else directly to mind, but she's eminently replaceable in her role, having no great charisma that shines through. Kozlovsky at least knows that he's there to be the eye candy for the girls, both onscreen and off (I guess), which is more than can be said for the likes of Kurylenko, Gabriel Byrne and Joely Richardson. All three of the relatively bigger names appear for no other reason than to slightly embarrass themselves, although they all have the sense to take roles that don't involve a lot of screentime. Sarah Hyland is the only person who I actually liked seeing onscreen, and she somehow managed to overcome the writing that made her character development painfully obvious.

I'm unfamiliar with the source material (novels by Richelle Mead), but the screenplay by Daniel Waters just doesn't work at all. There's a mythology that already feels stale and overdone, compared to the many other vampire and Young Adult movies to come out in recent years, there's a lack of genuine wit, and there's a lack of . . . . . . . .  well, anything to make this a movie worth your time. I'm not sure how much of the script would have been left in if the director hadn't been his own brother, Mark Waters, therefore both men can share the blame for the bad final product.

It lacks style, tension, a sense of fun. Thankfully, there's just enough technical competence to make it bearable, but that's it. I'd rather rewatch Twilight, THAT'S how bad it is.


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