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Movie review: 'Vampire Academy' (2014)

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Vampire Academy

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The first movie adaptation in Richelle Mead's bestselling Vampire Academy series is finally out. The books already have a rabid fanbase, but is the movie any good? Well, that depends on how you look at it.

17-year-old Rose Hathaway (Zoey Deutch) is a Dhampir -- half human, half vampire -- set to be guardian to her best friend, Lissa (Lucy Fry), after graduation. Lissa is a Moroi, a mortal vampire in danger from Strigoi -- immortal, evil vampires. Strigoi lust after Moroi blood and the power it gives them, hunting them down at any given chance. So Lisa -- who is also royal -- needs all the protection she can get.

But Rose took her guardian role a little too far when she and Lissa went on the run after a cryptic message from one of their instructors (Claire Foy). A year later, they are finally caught and dragged back to St. Vladimir's Academy, where they will continue their training. But soon after their reinstatement, dead animals and warnings written in blood start turning up. Is it the Strigoi, coming to claim Princess Lissa? Or is there something even more sinister -- and closer to home -- at work?

It’s tempting to compare almost any modern work of young adult fiction to Twilight, even moreso with another vampire series. This movie goes out of its way to let you know it’s not like Twilight, even poking fun at the franchise multiple times. (Did you know that Strigoi don’t sparkle?) And other than the obvious, the two series don't have much in common.

As a vampire movie, Vampire Academy doesn’t hold up too well. The special effects are cheesy, and the story gets muddled in the middle, leading to a clichéd ending that might not make sense to non-book readers.

But as a magical teen comedy, it makes a bit more sense. Brothers Mark and Daniel Waters worked on Mean Girls and Heathers respectively, both classics among different generations of teenage girls. The movie is full of the teenage drama smart one-liners that might not be quite on par with their predecessors, but will keep their target audience interested.

Just like in the book, the real strength of Vampire Academy is in its characters -- or, rather, its main character. Rose is a confident, funny smart aleck who wouldn’t hesitate to take a bullet -- or a stake -- for Lissa. And relative newcomer Zoey Deutch is fantastic in the role, portraying a heroine you can’t help but like. If for no other reason, you should see this movie for her.

If vampires and teen comedies aren’t your thing, you might want to skip Vampire Academy. But if you can look past the lame special effects and muddled magic, you might find a story that’s worth your time.

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