Book Versus Movie: Vampire Academy

When I first found out this movie was being made, I was very excited. Having read and loved the books, I was eager to see the translation to the big screen. I was disappointed. So disappointed. I don't really know what else I could have expected, seeing as so many young-adult movie adaptations are done incorrectly. For some reason I still had hope for Vampire Academy. 

Our plot follows Rose Hathaway, a dhampir (the child of a vampire and a human), and her Moroi friend Lissa (a full-blooded vampire Princess) during their time at St Vladimir Academy, a boarding school they attend to learn how to survive. As a dhampir, Rose was born to be a bodyguard, as that's all dhampirs are allowed to do. They are seen as second-class citizens in the Moroi world. From a young age, she and Lissa have been best friends, and Rose has long decided she will become Lissa's bodyguard when she finishes school.

Prior to both the book and movie opening, Rose and Lissa fled the academy fearing for Lissa's life. Moroi are born with an affinity for one element; fire, water, earth or air. However, Lissa possesses a new element; spirit. As such, she was able to bring Rose back from the dead, and they are now soul-bounded. Both girls didn't wish to find out what people would do to get to Lissa's powers. So they'd left, hiding within the human world. Until the guardians found them and brought them home. 

During the book, Rose begins getting closer with one of the teachers at the school, Dimitri Belikov. Upon the girls' return to the academy, Rose discovers Dimitri has been chosen to be Lissa's guardian, and initially hates him. He volunteers to train Rose up, as she has missed a lot being away in the human world, and needs to catch up to her classmates. In the movie, the girls had been away a year, but in the book it had been two. Despite seeming insignificant, this detail was actually important. Two years would have allowed Rose to genuinely fall behind her classmates, to be rusty and out-of-touch with her abilities. A year just seemed too quick. 

When they return to the academy, fellow students gossip about how the girls survived when they were away, what they got up to and what made them leave in the first place. No longer top of the food chain, the girls find St Vladimir's a very different place than when they left it. They themselves are different people now too. 

The book follows their journey, finding first loves and discovering what's important in life, with the addition of vampires and ass-kicking. It sounds stupid, but it's young-adult (YA) fiction and it's all a bit like that. It works, though, and people like it. Personally, I love it. This book series was an international best seller, so there was both a fanbase and an audience for this movie if it was done right, which it wasn't. 

The casting, for starters, was a problem. Zoey Deutch, though she pulled off a mean girl in CW'S Ringer, was unable to bring the fiesty badass that was Rose Hathaway to life. Lucy Fry, who played Lissa, was awful and stale in her role. She was the worst casting choice of the entire movie, which was bad for said movie as she is a main character. Dimitri (Danila Kozlovsky) was cast kind of right, actually. Casting someone Russian to play a Russian was a solid choice, and he physically captured who Dimitri was, even got some of the grumpy personality down. But he wasn't on screen that much. I liked Dominic Sherwood as Christian, but again his problem was he was just a minor character in a mess of girls who couldn't convey their characters as likable. 

The movie itself looked good aesthetically. The academy looked as it had done in the books, the costumes were mostly right. If the rest of the movie hadn't been so much of a letdown, it had potential. The director clearly did not understand that while this book was written with a YA audience, it had a strong female protagonist and several strong supporting characters. Instead it was turned into something very reminiscent and bitchy like Mean Girls, except it wasn't funny. To hear the director for this also directed Mean Girls was not surprising to hear. The script didn't have the magic of the book, didn't bring anything new of note and was just dull. The action sequences were not interesting, which were sort of crucial to make Vampire Academy visually work. This movie tried to be something it wasn't, attempting to be funny and satirize all the YA movie adaptations that had come before it, but missed the demographic who did actually enjoy the book. 

So of course there's not going to be a second movie, so people on Tumblr need to stop hoping for Frostbite (book 2 in the series). This one made $15.4 million off a $30 million dollar budget. How it made so much back I don't know, cause everyone I've spoken to about it though it was shit. It is genuinely such a shame, because these books are awesome. Rose is such a wonderfully complex character, with such drive to become the best guardian there is. Matters are complicated when she falls in love with a man she can't have, and tries to figure out what she needs to do. Lissa is fascinating as she believes she is the only Moroi to possess the element of spirit and has no idea what is does, or how to control it or what she wants from life. Dimitri's journey is an interesting one. Other characters in the book, such as Mia, Adrian and Sydney, are also very fun to read about. 

I would like to see a proper adaptation of the Vampire Academy books, perhaps as a TV show since The Mortal Instruments is getting a second chance on the small screen as Shadowhunters, since City of Bones flopped. But perhaps the time has passed for Vampire Academy to be made, due to the end of the vampire genre's popularity. If it had been made back when people still thought Twilight was good, I think it could have been rather successful. Rose is everything Bella Swan isn't, and I'm genuinely sorry no one really knows about her. 

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