Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Thoughts on Vampire Academy and the Lego Movie

Phil Lord and Chris Miller are three for three on film. The Lego Movie is winning combination of humor and a surprising amount of heart. At first it seems as through it might just take a fairly generic take on "the one", the unlikely hero who will save the world from a malevolent threat. 

The Lego movie becomes so much more than that though. Within the confines of a big budget licensed property, Lord and Miller found a way to deliver incredible sight gags and riffs on other big licensed properties. However, the the thing that really hooked me to this movie was it's sentimental turn in its third act. I'm not ashamed to say that while the movie had me laughing and enjoying ride for its first two-thirds, that final third had me tearing up a bit, with a touching revelation on the themes being special, the nature of toys, and the relationship between fathers and sons. Another great job by a great writer/director combo.
**** Stars.

Vampire Academy is mess. I should have known it would be from the start, the poor advertising that tried to make it seem like a knock off Mean Girls mixed with vampires, the current hot fad in Young Adult literature.

There are so many problems with Vampire Academy. We start with premise itself. In the world of Vampire academy, there are good vampires, evil vampires and half human/half vampire hybrids who pledge their lives to protect good vampires. "Vampires" (note the quotation marks) have the ability to manipulate the four elements (air, earth, fire, and water) in addition to having the glamour people like in True Blood. My first thought after seeing this was why do vampires need protectors if they are so powerful themselves? Their hybrid protectors don't seem to have any superpowers at all.

The plot of the movie is meandering, nonsensical, it tries to be a statement of school social dynamics, friendships, relationships, and then tries to toss in an overarching mystery that has no resolution. I got the feeling the creators tried to combine two or three of the books storylines into one movie to try an hook viewers to want to see a sequel.

The performances by the two leads are acceptable. The main character played by Zoey Deutch shows a lot of potential as an actress, she has a real charm on screen and reminds me of a young Linda Cardellini. Too bad she is trapped behind material is beneath her.
* and 1/2 Stars.