10 December 2015

'Vampire Academy'... Never Forget

There be spoilers, because I don't care anymore.

Wait, I need something to put a smile on my face. Like some sweet brown medicine to take the pain away.

I was going to push out a post about something less upsetting for me, y'know. I was going to tackle one of my oldest demons and come out victorious because even the worst genres of fiction have a few sparkling gems that give me hope in the human intellect to achieve more than recycled derivative trash.

But, alas, the world hates me. No one loves me. No one but my stuffed animals. No oreos, crab cakes, pineapple soda, or HIM song can take my misery away...

... Damn it, I don't think I can make it. I miss my cats. I miss them yelling at me for food at night and stepping all over me in the morning. I miss my dog, and I wish I was a better owner who loved all the attention she'd ask for.

I still miss you, sis.

*pinches cheeks*

Ok, I need to get over myself and write.


Let me first say that as far as most book to film adaptations go, Vampire Academy kept more plot intact and unchanged than others. It has been a while since I last read the books, but I can say that this stayed pretty damn loyal to the general content and lore. The social and political structures of the moroi (good, magical using vampires) and dampers (half human and half moroi) were explained, Lissa and Rose's relationship is spot on, the sets look pretty decent, and no major changes were made to what roles were played in the mystery of who was seeking out/stalking Lissa and why. The strigoi (evil, soulless vampires) looked formidable enough while not showing them to be over-powerful gods.

The action was quite reasonable, showing dhampir guardians kicking ass and dying, as well as the training techniques shown despite the limited examples of strategy and battle tips. And since moroi are generally spoiled brats who refuse to use magic for action or defense, hardly any complaints about CG will be made here. (But those psi hounds looked just as bad as the CG armies in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.)

General character descriptions and traits were followed relatively conservatively. Rose is as snarky as ever, Lissa had the sweet side to her I feared went missing due to bizarre casting, Natalie was a pitiable girl but a pain in the ass, and Christian wasn't an emo git. The headmistress of St. Vladamir's Academy seemed off at first, but the actress conveyed the character's stubborn uptightness very convincingly. Mia was a bitchcanoe, but the later books add enough complexity to her to make her far more likable. Ms. Karp's story was just as tragic as it was in the book. Dimitri's accent... was inconsistent and annoying, but his personality did not stray too far from the book... somewhat.

Yeah... That's an angry-in-the-moment nitpick, but it's one part of the large problem with this movie. And uh... well...

I liked the students' uniforms. Some of the outfits at dances and events looked presentable too. Upon closer inspection the costumes look a lot less tacky than I feared - same to be said with the make-up. The scene when Rose breaks her leg was excruciating to watch because you see the bone break and the blood for only a split second, which I applaud.

As for everything else... well...

What I'm getting at is the following; the acting is fine, the sets are fine, the core concepts are fine, and the directing is ok. It might be CW-levels of cheese, but as a fan of this series and not CW shows, I can reluctantly give credit for some aesthetic effort. But that being said...


Whoever wrote this movie needs to get fired. Whoever did not monitor and quadruple check every little detail deserves the boot too. The test audience might need to be checked too. The executive meddlers need a kick to the balls most of all because this script sucks. Clearly this film had to have been passed around to multiple people because it's a tangled inconsistent cesspool.

Rose narrates the entire first half of the movie rather than letting natural dialogue explain the world of vampires. Taking the first-person perspective rants in Rose's head works fine in the books, but here it's so much worse due to the overabundance of opinionated rants and jokes. Characters tell each other things they already know to inform the audience, even when five minutes later someone explains the exact same information during a scene when Lissa and Rose are lectured at. The constant references to "hip" and "modern" technology and pop culture seems to fit at home with the snarky one-liners characters say replace the less soon-to-be-dated and more clever comments from the book. The magic from Mean Girls appeared once in a blue moon when Lissa used compulsion to manipulate her peers to find out who's after her, but the magic would die as soon as someone came up with an insult that I'm very certain did not appear in the books.

Honestly, the only snarky dialogue I liked in the whole movie came from the dhampir training session when Rose caught up with Mason after being gone for two years. Either it's because those two were always adorable friends in the book and the chemistry made it through intact or these were the only memorable retorts in the entire first book.

Ok, that put a smile on my face too.

As for other film problems... well... How come they have projectors, which teachers can touch and scroll through slides, for showing the class notes, but no one has an iPhone 5, especially since most of the kids come from rich royal families? Who thought Mia saying "Back off bitch! He's mine now!" with a straight face was worthy of keeping in the final product?

Why the hell did the movie over explain some points then under explain and poorly show how Dimitri noticed Rose and Lissa being telepathically linked? How come everyone took it seriously within seconds? I could have sworn the characters in the book were less willing to accept this, and Rose and Lissa had more than one instance of letting their secret come to light. Like in the beginning when the school's guardians capture them and take them back despite Rose doing her damnedest to resist?

But back to Dimitri for a moment. The reason him using an affectionate nickname for Rose halfway through the film -- when Lissa witnesses yet another dead animal laying around in her things to scare her -- pissed me off so much is because it undermines his ability to have control over his emotions. Dimitri is called a god by many because of how effective of a guardian he is despite being in his mid-twenties. He's strong, quick, and observant of everything around him, and can instantly remain calm in a crisis. While he's still very friendly and can laugh at Rose's best and worst jokes, he keeps things professional without being too distant and cold. There are lots of noticeable hints that he falls in love with Rose, but they subtly emerge when Dimitri praises, lectures, and advises her to become a better fighter and guardian for Lissa. In fact, the film was doing just fine until "Roza" slipped out at a time when he would not lose his cool or let his feelings slip.

It takes a love spell to fall on the two of them for Dimitri to finally show that he does love her. And Rose's lack of reaction to him calling her that in the movie is even more annoying; it surprises her in the book when he calls her "Roza" again after saving her from an unexpected strigoi attack. I know this isn't Shakespeare levels of deep here, but the book placed a lot of meaning on when Dimitri uses that affectionate nickname to note when and how his relationship with Rose evolves beyond mentor and student. And the film gave no shits.

Despite the missteps here, Rose and Dimitri being together was one of the better things about the film. There's a common gag where Rose practices sneaking up on an enemy so she tries her damnedest to catch Dimitri off guard and failing every time but once, and that is one of the better touches added in the movie. Thankfully Lissa and Christian's relationship went well here too, so it's good to know the romances weren't lobotomized.

I honestly don't know if anyone gave a shit about this story. One minute the actors, direction, and script are in the right place and capture a scene from the book so well my heart soars. The next minute a line of dialogue shatters the moment, forcing me to laugh or cry, or both. I don't know if I'm blinded by my fond memories of Rose, Dimitri, Christian, and Lissa that I can't smell the manure that's actually there.

I loved these characters because, despite them being young and opinionated, they were still good people who valued the worth of others beyond royal status or social darwinism. Rose the flirt and attention seeker was still honest and had her priorities in the right place when Lissa needed help. Sure she's boy crazy, but she's still a naive teenage girl experiencing a real first relationship with a guy who might be older than her but she feels safe with because they share experiences and values no human or moroi could understand. Dimitri immediately gets points for not being a brooding jackass, which seems rare in the young adult genre. He's not the most interesting person due to how serious he can be, but him being somewhat simple but wise and kind makes him far better boyfriend material than a ton of young adult love interests. Lissa may be a bizarre supermodel thanks to her actress, but the gentleness and sensitivity still shined through enough for her and Christian to be birds of a feather despite their different social statuses.

Because they were the main characters, the high school drama was stomach able. They knew how to cut past bullshit and notice when some scheme was brewing under the facades of petty drama and political nonsense. A world existed beyond a precious secret society of vampires hiding from humans and scary monsters, and these four guys knew that preparing for the worst threats to the peace was worth all the trouble they became involved with.

One of my favorite parts of the book played out so well
but came too late to salvage any good opinion of the movie.
And yet this film capitalized on the Mean Girl schtick when it was the least important part of Vampire Academy. The uptight, isolated, drama-crazy could be considered the most frustrating ally and enemy to the cast due to the necessity of combing through rumors and political issues as well as not drawing in it. Whatever awareness the film had for the usefulness and frustrations of frivolous drama sizzled out and died, as I walk away feeling empty inside. The climax fell flat because while the real villain's motives made sense, it seemed to not matter next to Mia and her gang slut-shaming Rose for having Lissa feed off her while on the run because other vampire food options weren't available. The reality of Lissa's rare healing powers slowly driving her insane stayed intact enough, but the lack of tension placed on the possibilities of people knowing her abilities and using her for their own gains made this film lose most of its satisfactory "bite". The nightmare sequence Lissa suffers and Rose watches telepathically was a great addition to the movie, but it wasn't enough to fix the other substantial damages inflicted.

... *sigh*

I just... I can't bring myself to rant anymore. The more I think about this movie, the sadder I become.

Just... why did this adaptation, which I have begged for since I was sixteen, turn out like this? I just... this has made me so jaded and depressed.

This scene and Mia's actress... are still terrible.

Rather than give this a rating, I'll end this by parroting a special rarity in the evil Hollywood monster machine of death: the second book, Frostbite, won't be adapted.

I don't know anymore.

...I just hope everyone is happy. The public won't suffer another Vampire Academy movie with a horrid script... leaving me and other fans devastated that a series that deserved better treatment might not get a second chance for a very, very, very, very, VERY long time... or one at all.


Fuck you, Twilight. Fuck you, Hollywood, for botching another series I love. And fuck this movie for breaking my heart.

Farewell, Rose and Dimitri. ;_;7
Vampire Academy deserves better than this. Of all young adult stories I have read, I will defend this when no one else will. I will remember this affliction when everyone else forgets and the wound is gone. I love this series, and I will bear the burden of this film until I see a light at the end of the tunnel... and hope it's not an oncoming train.


Now, can I PLEASE work on my other post?

Thank goodness! Back to something that'll drain my eyes of tears rather than rob my soul of life and meaning.

...It's not as bad as it sounds, believe me.

1 comment:

Voltech said...

Tossing up an image of Linkara is fine and all, but it seems like you missed a golden opportunity to go into Spoony mode and shout "BETRAYAL!" All things considered, you're entirely justified.

I mean, I don't get it. Obviously, the guys behind this movie had a plan (sure, let's call it that) of what they wanted to do. But if that plan was so different from the source material, then why did they even bother with it? Why distort a property and rely on name recognition when this "service" to the fans is so uneven, and the fans already have the property in the ideal form?

I guess the plan was to have a recognizable name and get those ticket sales. But clearly, that didn't go just according to keikaku. So I guess the movie-makers didn't have or give the respect that Vampire Academy deserved, and they paid for it. I'd say "lesson learned", but I've practically gnawed my fingers off while dreading the upcoming Power Rangers movie -- and its first trailer, for that matter. (Dear Hollywood: PLEASE don't assume that the fan film Power/Rangers is what people want. PLEASE.) But anyway.

"Rose narrates the entire first half of the movie rather than letting natural dialogue explain the world of vampires."

Man, I haven't even seen this movie, and now I'm pissed. Pointless narration is one of my biggest pet peeves, and to think that it takes up the first half? You ask too much of me, movie. You ask too much of us all.

So yeah. Sorry the movie wasn't up to par; obviously, I don't have the attachment to it that you do, but I know what it's like to be betrayed by a work of art (or "art" if you prefer). So if the movie-makers won't apologize, then I'll go ahead and do it on their behalf...because nobility or something.

But on the plus side? Uh...Bayonetta's coming to Smash Bros. So that's pretty cool, right? Platinum Games, earnin' that RESPECT.

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