'Vampire Academy' is probably my favourite vampire series and like other readers I was filled with feelings of both excitement and anxiety when I heard there was going to be a film. While the idea of seeing the story play out on the big screen is definitely appealing, I tend to be concerned about casting choices, the script and the soundtrack. After waiting and waiting for the DVD to come down in price I finally saw 'Vampire Academy' on the weekend. I ended up watching it twice, because I enjoyed it so much. However, the real question here isn't regarding the entertainment value of the film itself, but rather how it compared to the novel it was based on.
I read and reviewed 'Vampire Academy' by Richelle Mead over two years ago, so I am not so sure I could critique the movie on the order of events or even the events themselves. I'm pretty certain though that I accurately remember character traits, clothing choices and the majority of the story. All the important parts, right? One thing I definitely remember was the re-cap you get in the first or second chapter of each 'Vampire Academy' novel. This movie had a fair bit of narration by Rose and while at times it was annoying, I honestly couldn't imagine how the directors would have gotten all the information into the movie without it. It definitely kept within the re-cap style speech.
Rose also narrated (or rather translated) what she could see through her connection with Lissa. Rose's personality definitely shines through here and her eyes turn reptile green. I felt like this was the only thing that wasn't really explained well in the movie and I could understand people (who didn't read the novel) getting a bit confused over it at first. I also didn't really get the Special FX. Reptile green eyes? It's very different from what I would have imagined. I would have thought maybe her eyes would go blank, or that she would close them?
When the cast for the film was first announced I noticed a few angry readers in my blogger news feed fuming over the decision to cast Zoey Deutch as Rose Hathaway, because she did not fit the character description. From what I can remember of the series Rose had dark hair and eyes, was strong and described herself as curvy. Some people use the term "curvy" to describe a woman over a certain size, while some use it to describe a woman with an hour glass figure. Maybe in this instance Rose is curvy in comparison with Moroi girls which are super thin? Even though Lucy Fry (Lissa) looks about the same size... I honestly don't know okay. I understand why people were annoyed, especially if you are a bigger person and you really identified with Rose because of that. However, I do feel like casting is a common issue when books get turned movie and that sometimes it's just so impossible to find a real life human that matches all of everyone's ideas about how the character should look.
As far as acting goes I feel like Zoey was definitely the right actress to play Rose. She got the personality, the humor and the defiance 100% correct as far as I'm concerned. I know a lot of this has to do with the script, but I think that the way that Zoey delivered the lines really made me believe she was that character and not just some actress in a movie. For me the classic Rose moments were when she changed her mind or made a remark, just because... Or, when she makes little remarks about Lissa, because Rose is not only a devoted dhampir; she is a true friend.
As far as casting goes I didn't really have any issues. I was really pleased with an Aussie choice for one of the leads. I started watching 'Mako Mermaids' before I found out that Lucy Fry was going to be in 'Vampire Academy' as well. While all of the casting choices were not exactly as I had expected, I thought they each suited the roles in their own unique way. I'm not going to delve into actor and actress names here. If you really want to know who's who in 'Vampire Academy' I suggest looking up the cast on IMDB.
One of my biggest concerns with this movie was that it was going to be a gore fest. While I do like reading Vampire novels and watching Vampire movies or shows, I find that some of them are borderline for me with the gore. I know that they do suck blood... However, I find that some movies/shows really focus on that part, rather than the actual story. I really liked that this movie stayed true to the novel and that I wasn't overly grossed out.
I also felt like even though this movie was a 'Vampire Movie' there were some very cliche "teen movie" scenes. This movie reminded me a little of 'Twilight' in that respect. There was the typical scene where the girls walk into the school dance wearing their PG approved prom dresses, strutting their stuff and walking past a bunch of scowling fellow school girls. Except in this case the school girls actually bare their fangs. I don't know if this is really a negative thing though. Bringing a fantasy movie more in line with girly drama is just another way to introduce more people to the genius that is Richelle Mead.
I was really happy that the movie directors didn't change the story too much (if at all?) and that the two girls remained the focus of the story. I actually felt like they downplayed the Dimitri thing even more so than the book, and I was really pleased that the story was not taken over with the "Love at first sight" stuff. The integrity of the story was there, and for now at least it seams that the movie has not promoted any kind of teacher-student shenanigans.
I was really pleased with the way Mead's characters, the themes, And the books events were portrayed in the film version of 'Vampire Academy'. I really enjoyed the way the film ended and I didn't mind the slight Mean-girls style antics that were included in the finished product. The only things that bothered me were that it was a little boring at the beginning and that some of the "vampire" stuff (such as the term 'Blood Whore') were not explained well and could prove confusing for those who haven't read the book.
Overall, I think the book is definitely better and even if you are not much of a reader I seriously recommend it. It is such a quick fun read and you'll be so hooked on the series... I think the movie is great if you want to share the story with your non-reading friends or if you want to re-live the 'Vampire Academy' experience in a short time frame (It took me around two days to get through the first book). If you haven't read the book, and just want to see the film I strongly recommend watching it with someone who has read it, so they can explain anything that is confusing.
I really hope to see the trailer for the sequel Frostbite come out soon, And I hope that some of the themes will be explored more. (Please keep in mind that my review of Frostbite was written so long ago and I am aware that the quality of my reviews was very "omg I loved it" at this point in time).
Also, is it just me, or do the snarky voice overs in this movie version of 'Vampire Academy' remind anyone else of 'Stick it'?
And, Finally, I hope you all enjoyed my little Book Vs Movie post about 'Vampire Academy'!
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