Vampire Academy: Blood Sisters Review
As a huge fan of Richelle Mead’s novels I desperately wanted this film to be so amazingly brilliant that it knocked the haters off their high horse and made everybody understand why I am so in love with this story. With unreasonable expectations like that there was very little chance of Vampire Academy living up to them, and it didn’t BUT it was still super fun and definitely worth the price of admission.
Rose Hathaway, a human/vampire hybrid (Dhampir), is on the run with her best friend/the vampire princess (Moroi) she’s sworn to protect, Lissa. They’ve been living as regular teenage girls (if Rose letting Lissa suck her blood is normal?) for a year but as the film begins they are apprehended by a Dhampir named Dimitri and dragged back to the illustrious St Vladimir’s Academy. Thrust back into the vampire world, Rose and Lissa have to negotiate mysteriously threats, the dangerous Strigoi (your more traditionally murderous vampires), royal politics and of course high school.
Vampire Academy suffers in the way that a lot of novel-to-film adaptations do: there is too much to say and not enough time to say it. Despite appearances, the mythology of Vampire Academy is actually pretty complex – there is A LOT going on beyond the quirky high school comedy so this film is fairly exposition heavy. There were a bunch of conversations that were basically just people reciting backstory at each other, which for me is the equivalent of someone dragging their fingernails across a blackboard (seriously it makes me want to turn Strigoi). But when the characters stop tossing information at us and start talking to each other it was actually pretty good.
Without a doubt the best thing about this film was Zoey Deutch as Rose Hathaway. Full disclosure, Rose Hathaway is one of my favorite characters ever, so believe me when I say Zoey had some pretty big shoes to fill and I was impressed by how well those shoes fit. She was snarky, sexy, smart and just a little bit vulnerable, all hidden underneath a tough sarcastic exterior. She was Rose Hathaway. Lucy Fry was a little stiff at times, but that might have been the clunky exposition dialogue because the few moments that she threw herself all in were impressive.
Actually most of the young cast were pretty good, it was their older more experienced counterparts that let down the team. Gabriel Byrne (Victor Dashkov) and Joely Richardson (Queen Tatiana Ivashkov) didn’t really add anything to their respective roles, they mostly seemed kind of bored and as a result I was bored watching them. Danila Kozlovsky was fairly forgettable but he was really just there as Rose’s arm candy and he did that well enough.
Look, if you go into this film with any kind of expectations you’re probably going to be disappointed. It’s not Twilight and it’s definitely not Mean Girls. But it is an incredibly enjoyable film, and it’s not nearly as bad as people have been making out. Seriously if I see one more person say that Vampire Academy is a failed attempt at Twilight meets Hogwarts I’ll scream like a teenage girl with a zit on photo day.
Let’s be real, Vampire Academy isn’t a brilliant film – and it isn’t anywhere near the film I wanted it to be, which is disappointing. It moves so quickly that it’s kind of confusing, some of the conversations are so stilted it hurts and the special effects certainly leave a lot do be desired. It would also have been nice to see a little more of the female gaze, Rose was constantly lusting after boys but the camera very rarely lingered on them. That said, I still think it’s worth your time and here’s why…
Rose Hathaway is a fantastic heroine (I will continue to yell about this until everyone understands) – Rose and Lissa’s relationship is a super positive example of female friendships (not to mention there’s a bunch of lesbian subtext – I’m going to need fan fiction stat). Strangely enough it’s actually a pretty accurate depiction of high school politics. It’s self-reflexive but not insulting – so if you’re a fan of the YA supernatural genre you’ll probably find it hilarious. While it would have benefited from a little more sincerity at times, the few genuine moments did ring true.
This film isn’t going to win any awards, and not everyone is going to like it but if you’re looking for a little bit of fun escapism that twists the expectations of the genre in a couple of ways, then you should definitely give Vampire Academy a chance.
Author: Undie Girl
Undie Girl (aka Von) has a BA (Hons) Major in Cultural Studies. The title of her honours thesis was “It’s just gay and porn”: Power, Identity and the Fangirl’s Gaze. She’s currently pursuing a Masters of Media Practice at University of Sydney. Von’s a former contributor The Backlot’s column The Shipping News and a current co-host of The Geekiary’s monthly webcast FEELINGS… with The Geekiary.
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