Vampire Academy, a 2014 film written by Daniel Waters, directed by Mark Waters and based on the first in a series of best-selling books by Richelle Mead. (pictured above) Nothing about that sounds bad, so why did the movie fail so terribly? That's what I'll be answering throughout this article. We'll look at the good, the bad, and the downright despicable, because at this point, if a sequel is going to happen, something has to change.
We'll start off with the bad and look at some of the things that hindered Vampire Academy's success.
1. The Marketing.
"What marketing?" you ask, and you'd be right too. The 'marketing' (I use that term very loosely) for Vampire Academy, was minuscule and oh so confused. Allow me to explain.
First we had a teaser trailer, short but sweet it started off a little Mean Girls-esque with some upbeat music, but quickly took a turn to represent the Vampire Academy we know and love. Action, badassery, a side of romance and a cool Rose graphic at the end, instilled faith and hope within fans that the movie would not only be true to the book, but would be good.
All our hope and faith went quickly and swiftly down the drain when we got a look at the official poster, and new and 'improved' full trailer, that fully embraced the new pink and green theme.
Mean Girls meets Twilight had well and truly landed. Short skirts and low cut tops took all the integrity out of Vampire Academy. Sure, Rose is hot, and she knows she's hot, but the lack of school shirts and crazy short skirts that would not be accepted at any boarding academy, let alone one as strict as St. Vladimirs, demeaned our leading ladies and dumbed them down to fit the Mean Girls criteria. Oh and there's a stake so you know there's vampires in it. You know, just in case you missed the pun in the huge pink lettering and mistook it to mean something else.
Oh and the 'marketing' lasted for about a week. In that week, the cast did numerous interviews, appeared on various shows (not any big or significant ones) and then the movie got released.
Erm, guys...? The film's out...anybody?
Hello...? Nope, okay. Maybe the cast-
Woah, ok, just be cool man, be cool.
Speaking of the cast, that brings me to point number two.
2. The Cast's Acting Ability.
Make it stop, please. Between Lissa's annoying and fake British accent throughout the film, Olga's attempt at a sexy and sassy headmistress who in her own words, "hates kids" and Danila (Dimitri) essentially mumbling his way through the film in what could be a new language for all we know, the acting in Vampire Academy is sour and poor. Perhaps if better actors were cast in their respective roles, the movie would've done better with critics and some fans. (Zoey and Dominic were good, we'll get to them later)
Also this over-dramatic scene featuring an over-dramatic Sami Gayle playing Mia over-dramatically.
3. The Script.
4. Visual Effects.
In all honesty, for all of the above that was wrong with Vampire Academy, the film had three shining beacons. They in no way exonerate everything above, but they do prove that this movie had SO much potential (as if we didn't already know that).
1. The precedence of female friendship (girl-power, if you like) over cliched love-triangle.
Of course, the beautiful friendship between Rose and Lissa is attributed to Richelle Mead in its origins, but the filmmakers and cast (Lucy & Zoey) did a good job of translating that to screen.
2. Dominic Sherwood (Christian Ozera)
Dominic Sherwood truly did a fantastic job at bringing a great character to life. In my opinion he (along with Cameron Monaghan who didn't get nearly enough screen time) was one of few cast members to fully understand his character and portray him to perfection. Not only does he have the looks for the character, but even with a British accent (a change from the american character) he still managed to bring the sardonic and mysterious Christian Ozera to life in a way that worked well for the movie and complemented the character of the book.
3. Zoey Deutch (Rose Hathaway)
Whilst Zoey is not my ideal Rose, she did make for a good Rose in the movie. Like Sherwood, she seems to just 'get' the character of Rose, and in interviews whenever she spoke of the character, it was with admiration and understanding of Rose's fiery personality. Zoey's a good actress, I made sure I did my research when casting news dropped and watched 'Ringer' in addition to other things she done, the only problem was that she wasn't given good quality material to work with. Cheap and tacky one liners were the basis for her character, almost making a caricature of the Rose in the book, by taking her sassy nature and multiplying that by a billion. She wasn't given anything to work with, in terms of character development, and although she clearly enjoyed working opposite Danila Kozlovsky, her scenes with him felt lacking due to his stiff portrayal of Vampire Academy's leading man, Dimitri.
All in all, Vampire Academy wasn't a terrible film. It had some bad elements but my main point is that the film seemed almost like a parody of the book as it played up certain elements, whilst downplaying the most important ones. (e.g Lissa's self harming, the taboo of Rose and Dimitri's burgeoning romance - the film downplayed how serious that would be if people were to find out, the term "Blood-whore" which is a HUGE insult in the book, but was downplayed as a petty teen slur in the movie)
At the moment, according to various sources, VA was made on a budget of $30 million and only managed to claw back half of that. According to OVAM (the producer run Facebook page), they have big news coming soon, whether or not that's a sequel, we don't know, but in my opinion, the longer it's left, the more and more unlikely it's seeming. With the failure of the first one, my only thought is that if there is to be a sequel, some big changes need to be made. Both behind the scenes (director and writer) and in-front (re-casting). Almost a re-boot of the franchise starting with the second movie. Continue it, but do it better.
What are your thoughts on [Vampire Academy](movie:609357)?