[Screen It]


(2014) (Zoey Deutch, Lucy Fry) (PG-13)

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Action/Comedy/Horror: A half-human, half-vampire and her mortal vampire friend must contend with being captured and returned to an Academy for their kind where the hybrid teen must protect her friend from threats from both inside and outside the academy's walls.
It's been two years since a drunk driver killed the parents and brother of Lissa Dragomir (LUCY FRY), a princess in line for the throne of the Moroi, a race of peaceful and mortal vampires. Also injured in the wreck was Rose Hathaway (ZOEY DEUTCH), one of the many half-vampire, half-human Dhampirs whose mission in life is to protect the Moroi from the evil and immortal vampires known as the Strigoi. Bonded by the accident -- with Rose often being able to see, hear and feel what Lissa is experiencing -- the two teenagers had been attending St. Vladamir's Academy, but ran away and have been on the run for the past year.

Recaptured by a team sent by Headmistress Kirova (OLGA KURYLENKO), the girls are returned to "Vampire Academy" where they learn that one of the former instructors, Ms. Karp (CLAIRE FOY), mysteriously no longer works there. Lissa also discovers that her ex-boyfriend is now dating the ultra petty Mia Rinaldi (SAMI GAYLE), but now has her own sights set on bad-boy Christian Ozera (DOMINIC SHERWOOD) who similarly lost his parents in the past.

Meanwhile, Rose wishes that nice guy Mason Ashford (CAMERON MONAGHAN) had a body like that belonging to Jesse (ASHLEY CHARLES), but finds herself falling for Dimitri Belikov (DANILA KOZLOVSKY), her physical trainer who wants to sharpen her skills in order to best protect Lissa, a sentiment shared by Victor Dashkov (GABRIEL BYRNE), Lissa's father's ailing best friend. As the teens try to get re-acclimated to the school, they must contend with something far more serious than the teen pettiness that surrounds them. And those are threats against Lissa, something Victor's somewhat nerdy daughter, Natalie (SARAH HYLAND), tries to help Rose and Lissa solve before it's too late.

OUR TAKE: 2 out of 10
Our reviewing policy for films that aren't shown in advance to critics is that we'll only provide a paragraph or two about the film's artistic merits or, more accurately, lack thereof. After all, life is too short to spend any more effort than that on a movie that even the releasing studio knows isn't any good (which is why they hid it from reviewers before its release).

Once upon a time, vampire movies were intended to be scary, and induced nightmares in legions of kids (and adults) over the decades. Then, thanks to the awful "Twilight" movies, the genre ended up hijacked by hormonal tween and teen girls (and a few adult women wishing they could return to their youths, vicariously, through the involved characters).

"Vampire Academy" -- based on the novel of the same name by Richelle Mead -- takes up where Team Edward and Team Jacob left off. But rather than Kristen Stewart moping from scene to scene looking pained, constipated and/or simply wanting to get out of Dodge to count her money, we have Zoey Deutch doing her best Ellen Page and screenwriter Daniel Waters doing his best Diablo Cody in terms of trying to recapture the contemporary snarkiness that both brought to "Juno."

Alas, their "best" is weak (at best) and the attempts of melding that, a certain "Mean Girls" vibe and all of the revamped vampire material completely falls flat on its face when not being unintentionally goofy. Had this been played tongue in cheek, and taken to the logical extreme, this could have been a blast. Unfortunately, it's played straight, with the only thing one can hope is learned from "Vampire Academy" is how to make all involved anemic enough that they're unable to make the obvious (and threatened -- in my opinion) sequel. Failing just about any way you look at it, the film rates as just a 2 out of 10.

Reviewed February 7, 2014 / Posted February 7, 2014

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