From Page to Screen: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Today I am excited to announce the launch of a new series of post I am calling From Page to Screen. In this series I will be reviewing/comparing and contrasting books that have been turned into movies or televisions shows. BE AWARE: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS.

Summery: Lissa Dragomir is a Moroi princess: a mortal vampire with a rare gift for harnessing the earth’s magic. She must be protected at all times from Strigoi; the fiercest vampires—the ones who never die. The powerful blend of human and vampire blood that flows through Rose Hathaway, Lissa’s best friend, makes her a dhampir. Rose is dedicated to a dangerous life of protecting Lissa from the Strigoi, who are hell-bent on making Lissa one of them.

After two years of freedom, Rose and Lissa are caught and dragged back to St. Vladimir’s Academy, a school for vampire royalty and their guardians-to-be, hidden in the deep forests of Montana. But inside the iron gates, life is even more fraught with danger… and the Strigoi are always close by.

Rose and Lissa must navigate their dangerous world, confront the temptations of forbidden love, and never once let their guard down, lest the evil undead make Lissa one of them forever…

Book Review: Before I continue with my review I have to confess that I actually saw the movie before reading the book. I would always see the books on the shelf at my local bookstore but never picked them up because, quite frankly, I found the covers to be embarrassingly cheesy (see below). So it wasn’t until after seeing the movie that I decided to begin reading the series. My logic being that if I liked the movie so much and the book is usually better then the movie I would really like the books (which I did).
Let’s being with the main character of Rose. I absolutely love Rose. She is probably one of the funniest characters in YA. She’s sarcastic and has a lot of witty one liners. Usually in YA the female characters are typically either a tomboy or a girly girl so I liked how Rose is not just a kickass guardian but also girly at the same time.
While I liked the romance between Rose and Dimitri and Lissa and Christian I appreciated that they were not the main relationships in the story. Too many YA books focus solely on the romantic relationship whereas in VA the main relationship was the friendship between Rose and Lissa. The bond between Rose and Lissa was so interesting and really adds another layer to their friendship.
Movie Review: Even before seeing the movie (or reading the book) I had pretty high expectations. As you may know VA was directed by Marc Waters (Mean Girls) while the screenplay was written by his brother Dan Waters (Heathers). Mean Girls and Heathers are two of my favorite teen comedies so I was really expecting a lot from Vampire Academy.
That being said, while it didn’t reach my high expectations, I really did enjoy watching the movie. It was a fun and entertaining while still maintaining the deep emotional content that was in the book. The one thing I do have to say about the comedic elements were that a lot of the jokes that seemed funny in the trailer ended up falling flat in the movie. I’m guessing that was probably due to the fact that they had to edit it down more for the trailer.
I appreciated that they kept the focus of the movie on the friendship between Rose (Zoey Deutch) and Lissa (Lucy Fry) instead of making it all about the romance. The way that they handled the bond in the movie was very well done. I enjoyed seeing the scene from Lissa perspective while still having Rose’s commentary.
I think some of my favorite scenes were the ones between Rose and Dimitri (Danila Kozlovsky). One of the reasons for this was the fact Zoey and Danila had great onscreen chemistry. The scene when she tries a surprise attack on him and he has her pinned down almost had me melting. (Best Line: “So, have any other moves you wanna show me?”).
I enjoyed watching all the fighting/training scene in the movie and I appreciated the fact that they added a lot more actions sequences then were in the book. (While I am a total sucker for girly movies there will always be a place in my heart for action flicks). My favorite fight scene was the very first one when Rose and Lissa are trying to get away from the guardians and Rose ends up blowing up a motorcycle before kicking some serious ass. I thought this was a great way to introduce Rose as a badass while in the next fight sequence (with the Strigoi) you see that although she is a kickass guardian she is totally unprepared to face Strigoi.
Compare and Contrast: All in all I felt that the movie was a very faithful adaptation of the book. Obviously there were changes made (as is expected in any book to film adaptation) but overall I thought the changes were good and didn’t take away from the story. The one change that I didn’t like was Lissa. In the books Lissa wasn’t as catty as she is in the movie. The scene at the end when Lissa goes out in front of the whole school and gives her “blood speech” had me cringing. I hate it in films when characters get up (usually in front of a huge crowd) and give a big motivational speech (seriously, can screenwriters stop writing those speeches). I think that they wanted to show how Lissa was coming into her own and was standing up to Queen Tatiana but I really felt that that whole scene was unnecessary.
The other change that had me shaking my head was the very last scene when they do a pan out of the school and we see a cave full of Strigoi being led by Ms. Karp. I was very confused by this whole thing. I feel like they were trying to end with a cliffhanger to make people want to see the next film but A: the Strigoi (or at least not this particular group of Strigoi) don’t appear in Frostbite and B: when they do appear in the third book, Shadow Kiss, they are not being let by Ms. Karp so that scene was very perplexing.
Overview: Overall I enjoyed the movie. I thought it was entertaining and fun (which is, after all, the point of a movie). Not only was it entertaining but it was a faithful to the original material as well. There were changes made (some good, some bad) but overall I thought it was a good movie. Now all I can hope for is that they are able to make Frostbite (and possibly the rest of the series) into a movie (Hello Adrian!).


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