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May 19th, 2014
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The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer`s Take
Even Gabriel Byrne, who plays aging and dying vampire Victor Dashkov, at one point looks annoyed at the ridiculously dumb high-school drama that is `Vampire Academy.` Based on the first book in the popular paranormal romance series by Richelle Mead, Byrne`s character reveals his irritation when witnessing best friends Rose Hathaway and Lissa Dragomir push, shove and yell over who will stand in front of whom. This is supposed to be a turning point in the plot, but rather than build excitement and feeling for the predicament of the two girls, the filmmakers generate rolling-eyes and frustration. You feel for Byrne`s pain and couldn`t care less about the girls.
I`m sure in book form — which I admit I have never read — Rose and Lissa`s story about a school dedicated to the education and protection of vampire younglings plays out more convincingly and probably better. But when adapted for film by Daniel Waters — shockingly, the same mind that imagined `Heathers` and co-wrote `Demolition Man` and `Batman Returns` — their very well-to-do teenage hardships are a mind-numbing torture of the soul. Or better yet, it sucks the life out of its audience similar to the way blood donors volunteer to feed these hormonally-raging vamps. Lie down on a stretcher with arms out and have your blood slurped for one year, after which your memory is wiped clean of the experience. Then again, that somehow seems more appealing.
Weirdly, the whole blood donor aspect of the school is one of the very rare moments of cleverness, because the joke is on the volunteers being fans of the modern, pop-romanticized vampire. Unfortunately, director Mark Waters — stunningly, the same mind that gave us `Mean Girls,` `Freaky Friday` and produced `(500) Days of Summer` — somehow has managed to create something that is decidedly worse and more offensive to the imagination than Edward & Bella`s will-they-won`t-they melodrama. Since the nonsensically preposterous story is set inside a school that keeps vamp kids out of sight, the movie is essentially a Hogwarts for the literal children of the night with a twinge of Guillermo del Toro`s `Blade II` and several cringe-inducing pop references.