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REVIEW: ‘Vampire Academy’ is an hilariously refreshing YA adaptation with a kickass cast

Wow! Let’s just get everything out on the table right now. This movie doesn’t “suck” at entertaining. Vampire Academy is a fun movie, and a great start to a hopeful franchise! The writing was fantastic, the actors were tip top, but the movie felt very rushed at parts. If you’ve read Richelle Mead’s series, you know that the first book is an onslaught of information, and the movie felt even more of an invasion with so many facts one right after the next. My ONLY problem with the movie was the timing, yet at the same time it left me wanting more.

I had the fortunate chance to speak with Daniel Waters, the screenwriter of the film. He planned to have everything flow easy, with transition scenes, thorough explanations about the different types of vampires, and especially longer cuts of the comedic sequences. However, as a writer you never have the final say. I could tell the studio cut out several scenes that might have been necessary to slow the movie down. Some of the jokes weren’t set up correctly, and the film would skip to a new scene without a transition of how the characters got there. I found myself not being able to laugh at the hilarious lines of dialogue because I would miss what was said next. It’s really such a shame the movie couldn’t breathe.

General audiences can only handle so much, especially with the recent less than stellar Young Adult adaptations, and two hours seem a little long on paper. I understand why Weinstein Company chipped away at the movie, so if it weren’t for some of the confusion and fast pace, this film would have been perfect. Yes, the timing was a problem, but the rest of the movie was a blast. If there is one thing I want to come across in this review, it’s that I have never had more faith for the future of a franchise than I have for Vampire Academy.

As Page to Premiere, we specialize in adaptations. From the very beginning of the optioning process, we all had our doubts about Vampire Academy. No one knew where this book series came from, and the title was so off putting. The books revolve around two girls already born into a world where three different types of vampires exist. Rose Hathaway, played by Zoey Deutch, is a dhampir; a half-vampire mortal with super strength whose life’s ambition and career is to protect her royal Moroi – a mortal vampire who yields magic – best friend, Lissa Dragomir (Lucy Fry). The two girls are thrown back into their academy after a year of being MIA, and things start to get a little weird around the academy. It’s a story about friendship first and foremost, and a little romance thrown in here and there, with a lot of bad ass action, high school drama, and hilarious one liners from our saucy protagonist, Rose. During the filming process, the staff members who hadn’t read the books were intrigued. I was one of those staff members, and I fell in love with Vampire Academy. As a lover of the series, I can assure the fans this movie was brilliant. It wasn’t perfect, but it was a pretty faithful adaptation. I’ve seen people for months worried about the comedy in the film, complaining that the characters looked vapid and cheesy. If it weren’t for the comedic bits here and there, the movie would crash and burn. The humor is what sets this film apart from the rest.

Spoilers ahead… come back to this review after you’ve seen the movie. It’s very important to support the film this weekend if you want a sequel. You won’t regret it!

The movie opens with a familiar catchy song from the band M.I.A that had me singing along with the two main characters, Rose (Zoey Deutch) and Lissa (Lucy Fry). I wasn’t expecting the flashback scene where Lissa’s family dies in a car crash right off the bat, or the shock I felt after my giddiness of the opening song. This scene is important to setting up the two girls relationship, and show the beginnings of what will transpire in the story. The flashback was definitely a gripping opening scene.

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We then go back to the present with Rose waking up from a nightmare and pounding the wall for Lissa, audiences are immediately thrown into the beginning sequence of just pure information. Rose goes to wake up Lissa, and we learn that the opening scene was Lissa’s dream, and this is the first time we experience the two girl’s special bond. Then begins what felt like a conversation constructed just for the purpose of catching the audience up to speed with the world the girls are used to. I had a real problem with this scene. Rose and Lissa’s first conversation was crucial, but it was rough and forced. Mark Waters (director) has said in past interviews that Vampire Academy sets itself apart because we don’t follow a wide eyed innocent heroine whose thrown into a world she’s experiencing for the first time. Waters is correct, but because the characters have lived in their supernatural world their entire lives, the amount of explanation needed in the beginning of the film had to be said in an organic way. Which unfortunately was not executed in that manner.

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Zoey Deutch as Rosemarie Hathaway has to be one of the most perfect casting choices in this film. Her portrayal of the kickass guardian is spot on. Deutch delivers each hilarious line with precision and a firm sense of confidence. Her dedication to kicking butt had me roaring Team Female, and I felt satisfied that one of literature’s favorite Young Adult heroines was in good hands. However, I did not feel the same way about Lucy Fry as Lissa Dragomir. I still can’t put my finger on it after one showing. I felt Lucy, in my personal opinion, took Lissa and made her more catty and spicy when Lissa needed to be a bit of a pushover and under stated to level out Rose. I wasn’t wowed by her performance, but then again I wasn’t ever wowed by Princess Vasilissa Dragomir until the last book.

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The film makers impressed me with how they handled Rose’s Shadow Kissed abilities. You find out in the movie that Lissa ended up bringing Rose back from the brink of death because of her Spirit magic abilities. During the trailers, I was disappointed by the color Rose’s eyes turned when she went into Lissa’s head. It seems that every Young Adult book, one of the characters has the very obscure gold eyes. I wished they had maybe glassed over her eyes, but it still worked. The way Rose would say, “not this again,” made a quick breath, and opened her eyes wide was just the way I pictured it in the books. I loved how we would go into “Lissa vision” with the POV camera shot, and Rose would chime in with her hilarious comments. The bond was definitely a tricky technical thing to transition from book to movie, but they conquered it.

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The first fight sequence in the film introduces us to the Russian god/dhampir guardian known as Dimitri Belikov played by a real Russian actor, Danila Kozlovsky. I had not one doubt about this casting choice, unlike so many others, and I’m so happy Danila did not disappoint me. He IS Dimitri Belikov. There were a couple spots where I couldn’t understand his dialogue due to his accent, but I’d rather have some confusion than dubbing. It’s so refreshing to see an adult in a movie about the trials and tribulations of high school with a supernatural twist, and Kozlovsky’s presence on screen is sure to ground the viewers. When Dimitri struts onto the scene wearing his famous duster, after Rose demolishes the guardian army (dhampirs), he speaks the words, “Princess Vasilisa Dragomir. My name is Dimitri Belikov. I have come to take you back to St. Vladimir’s Academy.” It was a bit cheesy, but I loved his entrance, and movie is already laughing at itself. Danila nailed the role, he was dark and brooding, such a gentleman, and made me believe Dimitri had actually come to life.

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I was most blown away by the chemistry between Deutch and Kozlovsky. When the two actors ever had scenes together, I was captivated. I hope people who haven’t read the books will experience the magic that is Romitri. My only wish was to have more of the guardian training scenes which were so prevalent in the book. There was never any explanation in the movie as to why Rose was training privately with her instructor. Just another scene cut out. I also loved the surprise tackles Rose would try on Dimitri added throughout the movie. I won’t lie, I actually fangirled when Dimitri called Rose by her Russian nickname, Roza. In all, Zoey Deutch and Danila Kozlovsky were an all around perfect casting choice.

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When the girls show up back at school we are met with the rest of the actors rounding out the cast. Dominic Sherwood plays Christian Ozera, the loner and Moroi royal who has a thing for Lissa. I couldn’t be more happy with who they chose for Christian. Dominic was a no-name model, and surprised me with his acting abilities. He wasn’t perfect, but I can’t wait to see him grow in the future of this franchise. At the academy we also meet Natalie Dashkov (Sarah Hyland), cousin to Lissa Dragomir because of the royal blood line, and the nerdy picked on girl. We all knew Hyland was going to hit this role out of the ball park, and she did just that. Especially at the very end when (spoilers) she turns into a Strigoi (evil vampire). The make-up they did on Hyland was just how I pictured her. Even though Natalie was the evil villain at the end, Mia Rinaldi (Sami Gayle) was the evil mean girl out for blood. I remember in the books just hating Mia with a passion, but Mia in the movie had no effect on me. I hate to say it, but Sami Gayle did not bring the heat in this film. It might have been due to scenes getting cut, because her story line and role in the movie was confusing and small. Mia definitely had a few laughs in the film, but I felt most frustrated with the way they twisted her into the movie. Another role I felt frustrated with was Cameron Monaghan’s Mason Ashford. I almost forgot about him, that’s how small his part is in the movie. From what we got of Cameron, I know he will make Frostbite Mason’s movie.

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The Strigoi. I wanted an entire section dedicated to this race of vampire. I was very skeptical about their involvement in the movie from what I saw of the trailers. Was I wrong. The added sequence definitely helped move the movie along. Strigoi, for the non book readers, are the evil vampires who used to be Moroi, but killed a human in the act of feeding. They are deadly, immortal, and most importantly do not appear in the first book. Daniel Waters added a Strigoi attack on the caravan Dimitri was heading up to bring the girls back to school. I loved the fight sequence, we got to see the guardians in action, Rose’s vulnerability, and Dimitri’s protective side. The only thing I did not like about the added Strigoi was the very last scene with Ms. Karp, who was a Spirit user like Lissa and turned herself into a Strigoi to escape the the effects of Spirit. The scene shows a red eyed Ms. Karp leading an army of Strigoi to the school. This was the only part that strayed from the book, and had me scratching my head at the added plot twist.

There is so much more I could elaborate on, but that will have to wait for my video review on my YouTube Channel. If you got anything from this review it’s that I want you to see Vampire Academy in theaters now! Fill those seats so Frostbite will be green lighted, and we’ll see all six books come to life on the big screen. As I said before, the Waters brothers know what they are doing, and the next movie is going to be even better, and hopefully Weinstein Company will take my advice and not cut so much out of the film. Let’s make this movie our bitch!


Don’t “suck” at being a fan! Leave a comment down below telling us your favorite part from the film!


Natasha is an 20 year old born and raised California girl. She fills her free time fangirling over her favorite series and actors. She loves reading, making YouTube videos, and enjoys spending time with her family, lovable fat cat, and hyper husky! Check her out on her YouTube Channel - Tashapolis, and Fangirl with her on Twitter @Tashapolis !


  • ff501998

    Yay! So glad to see this. I must admit, I am really upset about how the TWC is controlling this film. They are only the distributors yet they find it necessary to chop off bits that would have made the film flow.
    But thanks for this review. Can’t wait to watch it and then read the full article =D

  • Nat

    Do you think the movie will do well enough to get the green light for Frostbite. I have read a few critic reviews and obviously they have been incredibly harsh on the movie, saying it is another vampire movie trying to suck some of the Twilight fame in. Which annoys me as Vampire Academy isn’t Twilight.

    Obviously the critics aren’t this movies target audience but a lot of people base their decision to view movies on critic reviews. I feel that, like with Harry Potter, each movie/book will get better and better it just needs a chance to blossom and I really hope TWC give the series a chance to shine with Frostbite.

  • keerthana

    ms. karp actually becomes a strigoi…rose tells that to lissa at one point in the first book…her becoming strigoi is actually a major plot point fr the future series!

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  • Rosemarie Hathaway

    Love your review.. It makes me want to watch the movie all the more.. <3

  • Natasha Polis

    I’ve read all the books, I know Ms. Karp becomes a Strigoi. But she DOES NOT lead an army of Strigoi. If you remember, she stays very secluded and tries not to bother people.

  • Natasha Polis

    And the amount of footage we’ve seen prior to the movie was ridiculous!

  • Natasha Polis

    That’s a tricky question, we’ll know by Monday! This movie can’t just rely on the fans themselves, so it’s a shame critics are giving it such low scores. I’m wishing and praying!

  • Nat

    I am wishing and praying to. I mean The Mortal Instruments is getting a sequel (well that is what I heard) and it didn’t do well at all. Plus I have read a few reviews saying Vampire Academy is one of the better book to movie adaptations that has been done in a while.

    I just hope TWC gives it a chance.

  • Jania

    I loved the movie! though i was a little put off at the beginning because i felt like it was too rushed but i loved it at the end! i left there feeling like it stayed true to the book with minor changes and i even caught a glimpse of richelle mead! I am going again on sunday!

  • Henry Granados

    I really hope so i tried my best during the movie not to make an snippy remarks and just thinking about it is just an adaptation. Overall, the film was funny, sexy, and plenty of action as well as good special effects. I do not see why there would not be a second film. *keeps fingers crossed for frostbite.”

  • Ella

    Is such a shame really. I hate those critics. How can they say it’s like Twilight? It’s nothing like Twilight. I mean I don’t expect them to aclaim it but I do expect them to be smart enough and see how VA is not like Twilight. It’s a stereotype now. But I see that people who watched it liked it and not just fans.

  • http://www.temas-wordpress.com/ Yaira

    I liked it! I didn’t went in with super high expectations, since it is not a big budget film and they made it funny/comedy so I wasn’t expecting something super serious. Overall I was entertain, I do believe they did a good job for “none readers” to understand the difference in the races and terms so props for that. Also the difference between VA and TMI? with VA I was laughing with the movie NOT at the movie.

  • Kim Kron

    Thanks Natasha for this amazing review!! Everything you wrote I was nodding in agreement. That”s exactly what I think about the movie! And I read the books, but still it’s confusing while watching it. And couldn’t even get my thoughts about this movie and about the scenes in a rightful order. I definitely need to see it again to catch every detail they showed in the movie, because it was as you said too much and and too fast sometimes.
    But I loved Rose and Dimitri= just perfect! What more can I say?

    But Mason was kind of nonexistent sometimes, but I was really excited to see him brought to live, because he is one of my favorites in the book and I was particularly watching his few scenes and only had to think about the end of book 2 ;)

    But still thank you for your great review, because it helped figure things out for myself and helped me to have a clear picture of the movie in my head again :D I am still going to see him a second time xD

    Thanks, Kim.

  • Nisa Garcia

    YES! Thank you for mentioning Sonya Karp! When I saw her I was like WTF. NO she went to do her own thing, so I didn’t like that among other things, which you mentioned. Also other stuff.
    SPOILERISH…
    The speech at the end of the movie with Lissa and the queen, I liked the blood is this and blood is that but then she got chocked up and ugh idk it got cheesy for me there
    For me, it was A LOT of times that I couldn’t understand what Danila was saying… AND for some reason I thought his voice was much deeper. Not sure if that’s weird.
    They needed to add his love of books in the movie. And I hated that he didn’t give his speech to Rose after finding her with Jesse.
    Is it weird that I also thought that Lissa should have not noticed the small crush Rose had with Dimitri. Or Is that me?
    COMPULSION! I so didn’t like the super zoomed in face they did on Lucy, she’ pretty but damn that was waaay to close and I didn’t like it.
    And I felt lissa needed to be tortured more for her to have gotten so traumatized for it later on, does that make me a bad person?
    YES! This movie was too short for all the info. I hope they come out with the movie again with all the parts they cut so everyone can be like damn! We need more
    STILL I LOVED THE MOVIE!
    Everyone was awesomely cast. Zoey was perfect for Rose! She really did so good with all the scenes, as well as Dominic (PERFECT CHRISTIAN, I think though he needed to be more sarcastic). Sarah Hyland was great as Natalie but something abt her I didn’t like, not sure what.
    EITHER WAY IT WAS FABULOUS AND I HOPE THEY CONTINUE THE SERIES AND THAT IT GETS BETTER WITH EACH FILM.! This movie needs to blow up everywhere.

  • MissSierra

    Very good and well written review for the movie. I agree with all your points. I think Lucy needs some time to grow into her Lissa character. I think she did a great job with how Dan wrote Lissa. Dom was so spectacular as Christian, I am so thrilled that he got casted. and Danila, there are no words to express how perfectly he played Dimitri. and Zoey was absolutely phenomenal. I was a little disappointed with the lack of training scenes with Romitri, but I think they highlighted that aspect of the story nicely. I wish we could have gotten more Mason/Rose scenes because Mason is the greatest. I’m still on the fence about Cam, but after seeing the movie I like him a little more (maybe another viewing will help) :) And I think with putting Sonya (Karp) as the “head strigoi” is just a way to tie her into the story more, I’m not too fond of it, but I get it.

    All in all though, I think Mark and Dan did a wonderful job taking Richelle’s story and turning it into a movie. And I truly hope, we get Frostbite and the rest of the series, it would be a shame to not see them all come to life. AND if we are super lucky, we could get Bloodlines as well (the spin-off series to VA).

  • Debi Domby

    Loved the movie so did a couple mothers & daughters did too. It didn’t seem to matter if they read the books or not. I have read them and for the most part they stayed true to the book. I haven’t been to the theater in 20+ yrs … Didn’t care enough to go until this movie. I refused to watch trailer because I didn’t want to ruin anything with a little piece of anything. I agree Zoey was perfect as Rose…that’s exactly as I always pictured her reading the books. Not quite as thrilled with Lissa but maybe if there’s a 2nd movie she’ll grow into the part (I pictured Lissa as medium build and shorter). Dimitri was perfect and thought Mason and Christian were too.

    Hope the movie critics will look beyond some of the choppiness and know as a whole it was a really good movie that I’d go see again.

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