After escaping their boarding school, Rose Hathaway (Zoey Deutch) and her pal Princess Lissa Dragomir (Lucy Fry) have been on the lam for over a year. Now a handsome Eastern European dude has found them, quickly returning them to St. Vladimir's Academy for gifted kids. There are two types of students: Moroi, which is a fancy word for vampire and Dhampir, who protect the bloodsuckers. These vamps don't turn into bats (do they ever anymore?), can go out in the sun (sort of) and certainly don't sparkle.
Back at school there's no Facebook, no iPhones and plenty of warnings written in blood. Will Lissa and Rose be able to defeat the evil Strigoi? They're the undead vampires whose bloodlust makes them super annoying.
Based on the hit YA series by Richelle Mead, the film is filled with non-stop quirky dialogue, and every now and then some action. Though not as terrible as its current rotten score at Rotten Tomatoes would make one believe, the flick has no bite. Part of the reason is that the teen vampire genre is just worn out, but the bigger issue is there really is nothing unique about the story, characters or setting. The one cool aspect is that Rose and Lissa are psychically linked yet even that just amounts to lots of scenes that feels like flashbacks, but aren't. Here are five things to know before signing up for Vampire Academy:
1. Casting is Everything: A decade ago, director Mark Waters made Mean Girls. That film launched the careers of Rachel McAdams, Amanda Seyfried and Lindsey Lohan. Ain't gonna happen this time. Rose and Lissa have plenty of snarky banter, but the young actresses lack charisma. Dutch was much better (in yet another YA adaptation) as Emily in Beautiful Creatures. Her sullenness clicked with the material. Here both she and Fry deliver flat line readings.
2. Nerdy Modern Family: Sarah Hyland geeks it up as Natalie, the daughter of Victor who's played by Gabriel Byrne. The father-daughter pair is the strongest part of the film. Still, did they have to dress her down so much with the goofy glasses, spotty complexion, and overly frizzy hair? We get it, she's so not Haley.
3. Headmistress Kirova Always Looks Fab: Former Bond babe, Olga Kurylenko is the Miranda Presley of St. Vladimir. Her tongue is sharp and her wardrobe is fierce. Costume designer Ruth Meyers brought it.
4. A Love Set, Match: Both gals have two big helpings of tall, dark and handsome. Dimitri (Daniela Kozlovsky) for Rose. Christian (Dominic Sherwood) for the princess. So there is—thankfully—no Twilight-style triangle. That's some kind of progress.
5. No Mean Girls: Mia (Sami Gayle) became the Queen B of the school after the princess and Rose flew the coup. Upon their return, she quickly goes from intimidating plastic to insecure teen. That could have been an interesting twist on the bully angle.