Thursday, March 27, 2014

PCP in Theaters - Vampire Academy

As I said back on my "I'm going on hiatus again" post, I knew I'd be seeing a couple movies in theaters before the blog returns full-time in the summer. Well, I saw Vampire Academy in theaters, all the way back on Valentine's Day, but I've been so busy that I wasn't able to write my review in detail until recently. At this point, you probably can't find this film in theaters anyway except maybe at the dollar theaters, because it didn't do too well at the box office anyway. But, it'll be on DVD soon, so if you really want to watch this movie, you'll be able to do so from the comfort of your own couch.

Vampire Academy - 2014, rated PG-13. My rating: 5.5 out of 10.

Marketing pro tip: don't mention the phrase "they suck" in the context of your film's advertising, as it makes it way too easy to mock the film itself if it isn't that good of a film.

I hadn't read the teen book series that the film was based on, and based on this film I don't have any intent to go and do so either. Like many films lately, VA was an attempt to find the next Twilight or Hunger Games franchise, but unfortunately for every hit at the box office, there's a flop or two as well, like this or Beautiful Creatures or the Mortal Instruments. All I knew about this film going in was that it was from the writer of the teen classic Heathers and the director of Mean Girls, so I figured that a film set in a high school couldn't be that terrible with that pedigree.

Unfortunately, I was wrong. The film wasn't terrible, but it wasn't great either. Working in its favor was the fact that it created a new variety of vampire mythology, compared to traditional vampire films (and hey, no sparkling either, a joke pointed out by the film itself in one of its funnier moments). Zoey Deutch stars as Rose, a half-human, half vampire known as a Dhampir. Dhampirs are the bodyguards of the good vampires, the Moroi, who have witchcraft like super powers but are not great at fighting. Rose specifically protects her best friend, Lissa, a princess of the Moroi nobility, from those that want to harm her, including the "bad" vampires, the Strigoi. Also working in the film's favor, in addition to the new mythology, are some of the scenes set at the school, especially in the cafeteria. Those parts of the film were some of the better scenes, which is likely due to the writing from Daniel Waters.

Too bad they couldn't stay at the school cafeteria all of the time since those, scenes were some of the best, but the film couldn't decide if it wanted to be a teen high school movie or an action/horror movie, so it felt uneven and schizophrenic. The CGI was also pretty weak looking, but the film did have a microscopic budget so that makes sense. Also, because of the unique mythology of the vampire hierarchy in this series, the film had to rely on way too much voice-over from Rose to explain what is going on to the audience, which hurts the film significantly. And, the film telegraphs it's bad guy in an extremely obvious way, so you can see the "twist" coming a mile away.

Overall, the movie ended on a nice sequel hook with a nasty looking army of Strigoi not far from the school, but based on how this bombed at the box office, we'll never get to see that attack happen on screen. If you want to find out what happens, I guess you'll have to read the books, but I don't plan to do that myself. If you do read them, let me know if they're worth the time.

Alright, that's all for today, thanks for stopping by!