Enough with the ******* vampires!
I now look upon Hollywood’s desperation to launch anther teen franchise with the same contempt I reserve for losers who spend all their money on Lottery tickets. Sure, they have all failed miserably to produce results but THIS time it’s going to be a winner. Face it guys. Twilight and Harry Potter won the lottery. It’s a miracle lightning struck twice. You literally have a higher chance of being hit by a meteor, and a massively higher chance of sending all your money into a black hole never to see it again. The studios would be better served spending all their money on King Cobra and cigarillos.
(That reminds me. What is the Mega Jackpot up to? I better grab my tickets.)
That being said I think I can say the Vampire Academy is the best of the worst. Oh, it’s horrible in every way that you can imagine mixing the lamest elements of Twilight, Mean Girls, Buffy, and Bloodsport can be. The vampires still suck (haw!), the script should have spontaneously combusted out of shame (and possibly did), the “male” actors are mostly sizzle chested man/boys, and the girls all manage to make you hate them with the burning passion of 10,000 suns in spite of the fact that they are all drop dead gorgeous. You know, a typical Twilight movie or Tuesday at any white suburban high school (that’s sort of FTW in a weird way). However in the Valley of the Blind the slightly less migraine inducing teeny bopper launch movie is king. I’m saying in looking back at all the other “This film is the new Twilight ” movies that have come out in the last few years this one may just be the best. I resent the time and money spent watching it less than I did the Host, Mortal Instruments, Percy Jackson, I am Number Four, and Green Lantern (technically Green Lantern really wasn’t an attempt at grabbing teenagers (or anyone actually living on this planet). I just really resent it) so I guess that’s sort of a recommendation? Sort of in the same way I would recommend you jump into a pit full of scorpions and used syringes if your only other choice was a pit full of acid, burning napalm, and Andy Dick.
Wow this is weird. I just looked up the director of this canker and discovered he actually did direct Mean Girls. I guess he’s not going to travel much outside of his comfort zone. I’m going to put this movie not making me want to kill anyone (more than a typical day, I mean) on the fact that it was released by the Weinstein Company. I guess I respect them on some level. They do a lot of cool, smart, smaller movies and Harvey Weinstein knows how to make a film. The writer of this did Heathers, Demolition Man, and Batman Returns (Danny Divito Batman, NOT Batnipple Batman. That’s enemy of all things cool Joel Schumacher) so I guess he’s decent?
I’d also like to comment on the acting in this film. It wasn’t great. It wasn’t even particularly good. However, it was functional and when it comes to films of this ilk that’s about as good as we can get. It’s obvious that the producers strapped Zoey Deutch into a chair with her eyeballs wired open Clockwork Orange style and forced her to watch every episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer ever (even Where the Wild Things Are). Like I have said before imitating something halfway decent can sometimes result in something tolerable. Most of the people in this movie were given a set of programming (or just arrived at the casting office with the program already running) for their characters and ran the length of the movie on it. Not awesome but not not seizure inducing.
I remember when I reviewed Mortal Instruments bitching about the fact that the film creators assumed we had all done a doctoral thesis on the rules and intricacies of demons and slayers. Without a reasonable understanding of why the characters do what they do and what the endgame for each move is it’s hard to stay in the theater. Well, looks like screenplay writer Daniel Waters is among the tens of regular readers I have as he hooked up the exposition fire hose and spent about 2/3rds of the movie shooting the audience in the face with it. By the end of the film you will understand every nuance and subtlety of being a vampire in the world created by Richelle Mead, knowledge that will be of great use when the studio opts to let this series die a meandering death and never make the sequel (opening weekend gross: $3.9 million. Give me a budget and I could get that much filming the homeless people rooting through my trashcans).
Also, if you didn’t think movies about teenage girls treating each other like something something stuck on the bottom of their shoe is a pleasurable experience prepare for a kidney stone passing experience. Take all things trite and trivial about being a high school girl and then ad some magic and modest amount of bloodsucking and you have this movie. For the record the vampires in this film are so laughable when compared to their source material you will never feel anything remotely resembling apprehension. Anyone else remember when vampires were something to be feared, not romanced and/or laughed at?
Do I really need to recap the story? Lissa Dragomir (Lucy Fry-no other film credits, and a slew of crappy TV ones. I don’t know if this film will be her springboard) is a good vampire (part of the orientation lectures tells you specific names for the different types of vampires and half vampires but I have already wasted enough brain cells on this film) who is good because she doesn’t kill when she feeds. Rose Hathaway (Zoey Deutch-Beuatiful Creatures, Ringer, Mayer Cupcake) is a half vampire or something and is Lissa’s best friend and bodyguard. Apparently if you are born half vampire you are automatically a slave or something to the full vampires and spend your life as a bodyguard for them, ready at any time to take a stake for them.
Oh, also if you kill while feeding you turn in to a bad vampire called a Strigoi (I only remember this because it is a term used in Warhammer). I found this really confusing to be honest. The drinking of blood from a person who is going to live is not inherently different from the drinking of blood from someone who is about to die. I supposed there is a morality issue that could be associated with damage to your soul but if so what happens if you are at a party (or blood orgy) and you drink from a human who, six vampires later, dies. Do all seven of you turn into Strigoi? What if you drain a human to the point of incapacitation and in his or her lightheadedness they fall off a cliff? If the death changes your soul wouldn’t that be the same as draining them dry? If a moral choice manages to make physiological changes in your body wouldn’t you turn Strigoi if you shot somebody? For that matter it is said that Strigoi are faster, stronger, and most importantly immortal while regular vamps just kind of shuffle off the mortal coil. Sure, they look ugly but why not enjoy your good looks while you are young and then once you start to get a little long in the fang (haw!) go full Strigoi and live forever? Someone look up the definition of “cursed” and email it to the author. In spite of the reams of data force fed to us I’m still confused.
Oh, yeah. Also apparently being fed upon by a good vampire has some kind of narcotic effect and they have humans volunteering all the time, spending a year in the “feeder program”. I don’t want to dump all over the author of this epic (although really, I do) but there is a reason humans can’t really donate more than about a pint of blood every two months. It seems like Lissa needs to feed every day and I’m willing to bet she takes more than a teaspoon full. Oh well. I’m sure no harm could come of giving teenagers misinformation regarding health and safety issues.
Anyway, Lissa and Rose are on the run from the Vampire Academy. Apparently (I’ve noticed the more times I feel compelled to use the word “apparently” in my story recap the weaker the script tends to be. I might be going for a record here) Lissa felt like her life was in danger from something (?) but it might have been stress from being bullied by other students. They get caught by Vampire Academy Secret Police (where the writer proves she has no idea how motorcycles work) and hauled back.
On the way home they get attacked by some Strigoi who want something (? I really don’t know. Maybe they felt a burning desire to keep this film from being godawfully boring) from them but are beaten back by Fabio looking love interest Dimitri (Danila Koszlovsky-My is budushchego, Dikhless, Garpastum (I swear I’m not making those up)), the head vampire slave. The two of them get hauled into the headmistress’s office and read the riot act. Turns out Lissa is the last survivor of the Dragonmir clan and eligible to inherit the throne or something (anyone want to take bets as to whether she get the throne or not? The good news it it looks like we won’t have to find out).
Anyway, at that point the story, which had been chugging along at a fast clip (relative to the land speed Galápagos tortoise) slows down like a car with three flat tires and a fourth tire that is actually a Hefty bag full of treakle and used chewing gum. The girls start going to classes. Lissa spend a lot of time in her magic class (cough cough Harry Potter cough cough) and Rose in her combat bodyguard class (cough cough umm…Buffy meets the 36th Chamber of Shao Lin? cough cough). Oh yeah they share some kind of mental bond where at random (very plot convenient) points Rose can see and feel everything Lissa can but not the other way around. Stuff starts to happen that may be a serious threat to Lissa’s life but may also just be crazy high school vampire hijinx. Lissa’s ex boyfriend (I couldn’t pick him out from the other man/boys if you held a gun to my head. Sorry guy) has a slutty new girlfriend who hates Lissa. Some dude who might have been somehow associated with the school (or may have been just some creepy old dude hanging out with hot high school girls) asks Rose and Lissa to hang out with his daughter Natalie (Sarah Hyland-Modern Family, As the World Turns, Geek Charming). Lissa meets some emo dude (Dominic Sherwood-Not Fade Away, the Cut, Sadie J) and sort of romances.
I don’t really want to get into this any further. Bitchy high school hijinx ensues. There may or may not have been some kind of plot going on. There is some other teacher who Rose knew who opted to go Strigoi and now wants revenge for something (?). The Queen shows up periodically to bitch out and embarrass Lissa. Lissa uses her magic to brainwash herself into popularity. Inappropriate romance blossoms between Rose and the Russian Fabio dude. A lot of film rolls by without anything really happening. The end.
I know I said this is the best of the worst, but that is not really star worthy. I’m not in the habit of rewarding relative mediocrity. You can’t just hand out trophies to every kid who plays in Little League, can you? Well, most of the girls were amazingly attractive and if seeing hot high school girls in sexy ass Catholic school girl uniforms does it for you fuhgettaboutit. Of course this film suffers under the PG-13 rating like like a fragile oceanic eco system under a crude oil spill so don’t go waiting for anything higher than mid thigh. One star. In spite of the brain aneurism inducing script the acting, editing, and pacing were adequate. This puts this movie miles above such classics as the Host.. I guess I am in the habit of rewarding relative mediocrity. One star. There were a couple of laughable moments. Few and far between but I did catch myself laughing out loud (much to my embarrassment). One star. Total: three stars.
The black holes.
Story from Hell (possibly literally. If Satan were to take up scriptwriting this just might be the story he comes up with). One black hole. The director collected all of the vampire lore this movie ripped off or made up into a 50 gallon drum and then held the audiences head under it for about 55 minutes. One black hole. Speaking of ripping off, this film managed to “borrow” heavily from every vampire, high school, and teenage romance film, book, or play ever with the grievous and ironic exception of Bram Stoker’s Dracula (image courtesy of the Horror Movie T Shirt category). One black hole. The motorcycle stunt from the beginning of the film (if you see it you will both understand and agree with me). One black hole. The big bad guy doesn’t really get introduced until the last 20 minutes. Until then it’s just HS BS. One black hole. What’s the deal with the half vamps getting shanghaied into taking a stake for the good vampires? Isn’t there one of those kids who wants to be an artist, doctor, or pot head? One black hole. Can someone please tell me where the good vampires got the idea that going Strigoi was a bad idea? If your options are to go teetering off into senility and death or killing someone and becoming a red eyed immortal monster I think after 70+ years the decision process could be pretty quick. In fact, the one thing all the exposition did was convince me that I not only don’t give a crap about these vampires and their rules but don’t have any interest in learning it ever. It’s like reading an instruction manual on how to punch yourself in the testicles. One black hole. Hollywood really needs to let go of the two ideas that they can launch another franchise based on the “Bland teenage girl with two romances from guys who’s interest in women is difficult to establish” and that vampires are even remotely cool. Face it guys. All the freaks who love vampires probably killed themselves at the end of Twilight when they realized that in four very long movies absolutely nothing happened. One black hole. PG-13 sucks. One black hole. This movie is 104 minutes you won’t be getting back. Two black holes. Total: eleven black holes.
So a total of eight black holes. Still not worse than Hercules but in the ballpark. Worth seeing? If you are a huge fan of the books maybe, but other than that the only other reason I can think of for seeing this is if you died the night before in the theater and the ushers haven’t noticed yet. However, it is certainly better than all the rest of the failed franchise launches so if you want to see it for some kind of sociological research go for it. Date movie? Well, the male characters with the exception of the Russian guy have all the machismo of the Vagina Monologs so you should be able to look kind of manly in comparison, but odds are if you either suggest or agree to this film there is a part of her brain that will be thinking “WTF is up with this guy?”. Pass. Bathroom break? Oh, pretty much any time you see a scene with actors in it.
Thanks for reading. I really didn’t expect this one to ramble on this long but it’s 12:49am on Febuary 15th and I’m working on this instead of being out with a Valentine so I guess I’m trying to convince myself I have a life. Follow me on Twitter @Nerdkungfu. If you have a comment about this film I pity you but feel free to leave it here. Off topic questions or suggestions should be emailed to email@example.com. Talk to you soon.