What Went Wrong with the Vampire Academy movie?

February 11, 2014 2014, films, Kate, richelle mead, Uncategorized, Wendy 200

vampire academy poster

Have you seen the Vampire Academy movie yet? Wendy and Kate saw it on Friday, and we thought it’d be interesting to discuss our feelings about it.

We should preface this by saying that we are both huge, huge fans of Richelle Mead’s books. We went into the film with very few expectations: basically, we just hoped it would be fun, and that the characters wouldn’t be ruined. Sadly, we still left feeling pretty let down by what we saw, and incredibly disappointed that this lackluster effort into adapting the book means that it’s doubtful we’ll see any sequels onscreen.


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Wendy: Well, this is one of the worst book to film adaptations I’ve ever seen. I couldn’t have imagined this level of fail, we were both literally cringing at some of the scenes. I looked over at you a few times and saw you crouched down trying to hide from the horror onscreen just like I was!

Kate: Yeah, by the end I had curled into little ball facing the back of the theater because I felt really embarrassed on behalf of the people who made the movie–and on behalf of myself as a superfan of the property. Being an adult who reads YA carries such a weird stigma–as grownups reading comics used to do and still does to some degree–and when movie versions of beloved properties miss the mark, the YA community as a whole enjoys the disdain of the larger world.

Wendy: My favorite horrible moment from the film: Lissa catches Rose and Christian leaving the library together and says tearfully, “You were fornicating with her, weren’t you?” *sob* It was such a clumsy moment, and I was laughing so hysterically that I had to throw my wrap over my face in an effort to keep quiet. I felt so bad and tried not to make noise throughout the movie, but I couldn’t help it. So much of it was so over the top that I was literally crying with laughter.

Kate: I got what they were going for with Lissa (with the weirdly prim costumes and old time-y language), but it just didn’t work at all. The whole thing where the vampire world knows nothing about pop culture or the wider world didn’t translate, and it was all conveyed with tedious expository language.

Wendy: Lots of showing versus telling, which is so interesting in a visual medium. You know the couple sitting next to us got up and left.

Kate: Hahaha. I don’t blame them. I knew the movie was going to be problematic about halfway through the first scene because they were pushing for big laughs with overly quirky expository dialogue that didn’t suit the actors, when what they needed to do was set up the deep, gorgeous friendship (between Rose and Lissa) that is the real heart of this series, and make us SMILE at their interactions.

Wendy: Oh yeah, I knew as soon as it started, too. Huge info dumping, high speed dialogue, and humor that never quite found its footing. And I agree, if the focus is going to be on the girls, show us the friendship in a real and meaningful way. The film just basically took the most obvious plot points and ignored any sense of depth or subtlety, and both the story and the characters suffered.

Kate: Um. So. Dimitri. The “Dimitri is a god” thing ONLY makes sense if you’ve read the books, because the actor was not…that. I think they maybe messed up by casting an ESL actor as the romantic lead? It sounded like he learned his lines phonetically. When he and Rose made out, I said, “NO!” and covered my eyes. He has a bit of an Uncle Gary thing going on next to Rose. I guess I always imagined him with a martial artist’s physique. Reading Marie Rutkoski’s post about forbidden love yesterday really reminded my of what it is about the Dimitri/Rose thing that works so well in the books, and why it failed here. There’s no slow burn! He actually seems creepy! I would be fine with his appearance, and everything if he had charisma, and that’s where he was seriously lacking.

Wendy: He has the cutest face and I love his coloring, but yes–he does not have the hard physicality or solid stoicism you imagine from the books at all, and there’s so little chemistry between him and Zoey Deutsch that everything just felt very awkward and forced. There is so much heated sexual tension between the two characters in the books that seeing the hesitant, jokey flirting onscreen was pretty painful. Oh, Roza and Dimka! What’s become of you?

Kate: All the stuff about Moroi being able to do magic, Lissa’s special posers, and Shadow-Kissed Anna made ZERO sense in the movie. There’s no way people who didn’t read the book had any idea what was going on.

Wendy: I like to bring Mr. Darling to these things as a test of whether an adaptation makes sense to the uninitiated (I know, he deserved and got a huge apology for this one), and he was confused throughout the whole movie. The Mortal Instruments has a much more complicated mythology, and he was able to follow City of Bones just fine. I couldn’t believe how bad this film was–like incomprehensibly bad. And it shouldn’t have been, because this property has all the right ingredients for a fantastic film or TV series.

IMG_0289.CR2Kate: Rose. :(

Rose is one of my all-time favorite literary figures. I L.O.V.E. her. And I don’t think Zoey Deutch is a bad actress (and boy, does she ever have an amazing head of hair), but she may not be quite ready to carry a movie. And the gorgeous, wealthy daughter of famous people is maybe not the best choice, casting-wise, for this type of character. In the movie Rose is kind of just a mean girl. She has none of the hidden depths that make the character so appealing in the book.

Wendy: I ADORE Rose Hathaway. So many people criticize her, but she is so strong and grows so much throughout the books, and is willing to admit to her mistakes and learn from them. She’s so snarky and hilarious, too! But in the film, she just comes off as a brat, and yes, just like a superficial mean girl without any chops to back up her attitude. This girl is supposed to kick serious ass both physically and mentally, and this first book is where she starts developing her potential, as well as understanding what she must sacrifice in order to follow the path she’s chosen.

Another reason why I like Rose in the books is that she is so unapologetic about being sure of her sexual attractiveness and she knows how to turn that to her advantage. Girls DO this, and it’s great that Richelle Mead is honest about this portrayal of a girl exploring her boundaries and relationships. The slut-shaming was poorly handled in the film too, so including the Lissa-feeding-off-Rose stigma was really weird.

Kate: The feeding thing was not executed well. It kind of just looked like Rose enjoys rough play in the form of biting. And the way slut shaming is handled in the book is amazing–Richelle Mead is SO GOOD at writing that thing teenage boys do where they make out with you and then tell everyone you went down on them or whatever.

Wendy: Worst yet, the biting didn’t even feel euphoric and sexy, like it’s supposed to (and does in the books). The film made it look like a cheap thrill thrown in for pervy guys in the audience. It’s just sad that a character we love so much was diminished with such typical, predictable moves and a childish attitude.

Kate: It felt like they tried to shoehorn in an extra Rose-centered love triangle, too, and it really annoyed me because in the movie, Mason kind of seems like a better choice for Rose than Dimitri does.

Wendy: I think you’re right about that, and a Rose-Mason pairing is just…totally wrong.

Kate: You made me laugh out loud during the movie when Uncle Victor undergoes a major physical transformation and then checks himself out in the mirror and you said, “He still looks terrible.” I’m laughing again now just thinking about it. He did look bad.

Wendy: Heh. We whispered maybe a little bit too much throughout this thing, but man. I couldn’t hold it in or else I would explode. The special effects and makeup and styling were terrible. TERRIBLE.

VAMPIRE ACADEMYKate: Um. Lissa’s speech at the end. Wendy. I don’t even know what to say about it. It felt like it was trying to be Tina Fey’s big speech at the end of Mean Girls.

Wendy: Damn. Tina Fey should have written this script, I think that would have solved half the problems I had with the film. At least the cheesy parts would have been deliberately funny.

Kate: Yeah. Oh, I thought the actors who played Christian and Mia both did a really good job, though.

Wendy:  Agreed. The whole thing is just a shame overall, though. Before I even got the email updates about its box office performance  (at $3.9 million for the weekend, it came in under the already dismal Sunday projections), I knew as soon as I saw how bad the film was that this wasn’t a project that was going to succeed, although the mostly empty theater and scant publicity and promotional effort were also big clues. Unless it somehow becomes a cult hit overseas or in other media, there’s no chance we’re going to see Adrian in a movie. *cries* Although maybe that’s a good thing, given what they did with the rest of the characters.

Frostbite is also one of my favorite books in the series, partly because of that thrilling but awful scene towards the end when Rose makes a grave mistake with devastating results. I don’t think there’s ever been another YA paranormal series that shows such depth of character development, while remaining true to many of the faults and uncertainties that a girl would experience. I’m so sad that this series didn’t get the treatment it deserved on the big screen.


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Here are some things we think would have improved the film:

Slow the hell down. Why was everything filmed and spoken at such lightning speed? The pacing was frantic and sloppy, and as a result the explanations, the humor, the romance, the friendships, the school drama, etc all flashed by like we’d accidentally set the movie on fast-forward. Everything felt like a loud, overly-exaggerated caricature, and the tone was totally campy and bubblegum. Even if it weren’t completely off from the mood of the books, the frenetic quality was pretty tiresome, and it made it hard to keep up with what was going on.

Don’t stay so faithful to the book. We get it, there’s a lot of mythology and characters to cover when it comes to paranormal stories. But jamming so much information and so many side plots into this movie meant that everyone was talking absurdly fast and we were jerked from scene to scene like we were on an amusement park ride. Things that could have easily been left out/reconsidered: the lack of knowledge about pop culture and the wider world, the number of emotive spirit bond visions (some of those could have just been our seeing them, or toned down–it’s just a goofy thing to see onscreen), possibly the bloodletting/shaming/popularity contests since it was so poorly explained and executed, the side plot about Mia’s relationship with Lissa’s brother, etc. If you can’t spend a decent enough time on developing these elements, or they slow down the narrative too much, just skip them.

Stay more faithful to the characters. This film makes you realize that whatever faults the Twilight movies had, screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg did a great job in adapting those books, both in terms of explaining the world to us and in showing us everyone’s motivations and feelings. The VA film needed a script that better showcased the strengths of the characters; its emphasis was on humor, which is a fine approach, except that if the humor falls flat there’s very little to fall back on. It also ignored all the other elements that make the books great: Rose’s strength and loyalty, Dimitri’s determination to do what’s right, the friendship between the girls, interesting adult/teen dynamics, etc. The film failed to adequately capture the vibe of a lot of important scenes (including what should have been seriously sexy love charm scene), and it completely lacks any of the book’s more serious narration.

VAMPIRE ACADEMYRecast the principle actors. Danila Kozlovsky is attractive, but visually he overpowers Zoey Deutch so much that with the additional age difference, it made us very uncomfortable to watch. We’re guessing there was some desire to cast a Russian actor, but Danila’s accent often made it really difficult to understand what he was saying. Zoey also seems like a matter of taste; some people seem to respond to the smart-mouthed style of delivery, but it never quite flows naturally. In A Separate Peace, John Knowles defines sarcasm as, “the protest of people who are weak,” and that piece–the pain and weakness that Rose is covering with her bluster–is missing in the film. Those two casting choices were our main issues, but to be fair, the directing and editing made it very difficult for anyone to really showcase their characters properly.

Supporting cast-wise, Joely Richardson did a great job, but the Queen Tatiana scenes almost felt like they belonged in a different movie. Natalie felt like a caricature. The headmistress was WEIRD. And the villain didn’t seem threatening, he seemed eccentric and in a hurry to get to a shuffleboard tournament or something.

Do a better job with the action. There are some fantastic action sequences in the books, and there should have been better training scenes/fight choreography in the film, as well as photography and editing that showed them off better. C’mon, how are these scenes better in the books than in the movie?

Rehaul that soundtrack. Not every single scene has to have pop music, you know? It got pretty distracting and annoying and loud, and so often seemed to fade in and out without purpose. A lot of the songs were pretty forgettable, too. But maybe there was an issue with partnerships or something, because we definitely noticed that random dig at Hot Topic.

Utilize a decent budget. Among the many things that sorely needed more dollars invested in them were the awful special effects and laughable wardrobe. Those psi-hounds were horrendously bad, like something out of an old Stephen King movie (pony up some CGI dollars or just digitize some real dogs, okay?) and Rose’s expensive necklace looked like something you’d find under the bleachers in a middle school gymnasium. Dimitri’s famed duster was unappealing (good call, Jen) and needed at least another $500 invested on that price tag. The girls’ clothes looked like they came straight off the discount rack from the mall, especially the prom dresses; Rose’s dress is described in the book as “This was the kind of dress that changed the world. The kind of dress that started religions.” Nope. This was the kind of dress a secretary would buy on sale for an office party. And don’t be fooled by Lissa’s cool costume on the movie poster. They dressed that girl like she had a terrible skin condition they were trying to hide, and her clothes made her look emaciated. Lissa’s makeup was problematic, too, and made her mouth look CRAZY.

Rethink the tone of the film. The humor tried so, so hard but succeeded in being so, so unfunny. We were worried when we first saw the team chosen to develop this project, because as much as we love Mean Girls (and it really is one of one of our favorite movies of all time), it seemed as though going that direction could be too different from the extremely dark and serious tone of the last few books. And it makes us wonder whether this was ever seriously considered as a long term project to begin with.

And as a general comment, we’ve been saying for years that in order for book-to-film adaptations to have a shot at becoming successful, they must expand beyond the existing fan base and cross over to a wider audience. They can’t rely on readers alone to fill those seats, this is a symbiotic relationship, not a parasitic one.


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The best parts about the film were mostly the ones where they kept lines from the book and didn’t speed them up or toss them away. Examples:  “If I let myself love you, I won’t throw myself in front of her. I’ll throw myself in front of you.” (Oh, DIMITRI.) “That is my dress.”  Sadly, these were literally the only ones we could think of. Although there was that nice, if way too brief, moment when a traitor says (paraphrasing), “Do you have any idea what it’s like to always be second”?” And Dimitri says simply, “No.” We think that was an original line.

One last note: we’ve been seeing a lot of chatter implying that people “trashing” the movie aren’t showing support for the YA film adaptations.  We absolutely want to see more YA film projects succeed, but we also want and deserve good films. It’s also pretty tiresome that this onus is constantly upon YA book fans to do more more more on behalf of authors and their projects. We spend massive amounts of time and our own dollars to support projects we love (did you notice we went on opening day? Eh?) but it is pretty outrageous to take the position that expressing disappointment or criticism is a shameful thing, or that we’re the ones preventing more films from being optioned.

You know what will get more films made? A decent movie that expands beyond its fan base. Because friends, books and films like Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and Twilight are massive, lightning-in-a-bottle projects, none of the other YA bestsellers that have been made into films or optioned come even close. Do your homework and don’t be fooled by uninformed internet speculation about why one project succeeds or fails, or even by what defines success. And don’t let yourself be guilted into something that is not your responsibility. If we accept books and films of poor quality as the norm, we’re just going to continue to get more of them.

Speculation: Divergent has a good chance of doing better than these last few YA adaptations if it’s done well, based on the action-oriented and easy to understand plot, as well some of the talent behind the scenes. The Fault in Our Stars looks like it has potential to get that Nicholas Sparks type audience to become a sleeper hit, plus there’s all that John Green power and a major studio behind it, too. It’s probably too soon to tell about other adaptations at this point.


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What did you think?

So have you seen the film yet, or are you planning to? Let us know if you agree or disagree with our reactions to the film! And please link us to your own movie reviews as well if you did them.

Our opinion is: stick to the books, peeps. VA is one of the best YA series out there, and sadly, this film just didn’t do justice to the characters or story. This sums up the characters in the movie nicely: View Spoiler ». Sorry, couldn’t resist. But it’s true.

Photos appear courtesy of the studio. We love you, Weinstein Company, but we didn’t love what you did with this awesome series.


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200 Responses to “What Went Wrong with the Vampire Academy movie?”

  1. bethany

    as promised! went to a richelle mead event last weekend at Powell’s in Portland and one person asked “So what did you *really* think about the VA movie?” and she kind of laughed, but then gave a really thoughtful response.

    one thing I appreciated was that she caveat-ed that a reason why a lot of fans were upset was because the movie didn’t match the book/images in their heads of what the book would be like — and something she said was that that’s NOT the case for her, because for her, the book and the characters and the stories are IN HER CONTROL as the author–they’re HERS. so for her, seeing the movie didn’t threaten her or the VA world in her head, but rather were one person’s (or a team’s) expression of the stories she had written. obviously not verbatim because i didn’t take notes, but that sentiment stuck with me.

    she also gave some background about budget and how the film had to be dramatically shortened compared to something like divergent because its budget was like half the size, which makes a lot of sense, but people forget! she commented that it was actually HARDER to get money because “who wants another vampire movie” when “dystopia’s the big thing” – but the fans in the audience clearly disagreed :)

    she also gave a brief update on the potential second movie — as far as she knows it could be something like veronica mars with crowdfunding and then direct-to-dvd or something like that, but still up in the air.
    bethany recently posted…Stitch Fix #4 and #5 {catch-up}

    • Wendy Darling

      Thanks for filling us in on Richelle’s response to the movie question, Bethany!

      I think she answered that question as tactfully and as she could have, and I’m truly glad the experience doesn’t seem to be a negative one for her. Re: matching imagery–while there are fans who are sticklers for minutiae, I think the vast majority of them are more inclined to embrace something–even something that’s not what they envisioned, and often something that’s bad–because they love the property so much.

      It was very apparent that the film had a pretty low budget. It seems that the production company/distributor/whatever either didn’t understand/care to understand this book’s strengths and did the minimum to release the film. Which is somewhat surprising, considering The Weinstein Company’s history of strong literary-type projects and difficult subjects.

      And yeah, good luck with that crowd-sourcing thing, hah. I guess we could be surprised, but if readers didn’t turn out for the first film, I don’t know how they would come up with enough money to fund a second one.

  2. Smagie

    You are in my mind!!!! It is sooooo awkward and disgusting what they did with the book! OMG! I wanna cry because they ruined whatever I imagined and pictured from the book (Now I have to think about Dimitri as this actor and it makes me wanna puke!).
    They skipped at least half of the book. The production was cheap and the result was dissapointing for us fans. I hope there’s someone who can do a remake in the future that worths. It’s a pitty really what they did And it’s unfair.
    The only thing that made me say “hell yeah” was that some rooms of the Academy were just like I imagined them. NOTHING ELSE LITERALLY.
    Very very sad. I hope that people who watched the movie without first having read the book, give it now a try and have their mind changed about what Vampire Academy is.
    Such a bad adaptation overall, that gave a tottaly wrong taste and view about the story itself to whoever hadn’t read any of the books.

    • Wendy Darling

      Yeah, the production values were pretty cheap–I can’t remember the last time I saw a movie on the big screen that felt like it had such a low budget. It wasn’t just that they didn’t spend money on special effects, a lot of things were just in bad taste, too, like the clothing and make-up and jewelry and such. Maybe someone else will try to adapt this again down the road? I would love to see other filmmakers try!

      And YES, dear god, I hope this movie doesn’t turn people off the books. That would be the absolute worst thing of all.

  3. Naomi

    I was so excited for this movie. I had been waiting for it years. Now that it’s here, I wish they just hadn’t made it. It’s ruined my vision of most of the characters and it was just so awkward. If they don’t get to touch Frostbite, I won’t be sad. I like Adrian the way he is in the books and my mind just fine, thank you very much.

    • Wendy Darling

      Now that it’s here, I wish they just hadn’t made it. It’s ruined my vision of most of the characters and it was just so awkward.

      I know. You can’t unsee these things, no matter how much you want to.

      I would prefer that they not attempt to do FROSTBITE, either. I was just saying to someone below that I think Adrian would be even harder to cast than Rose and Dimitri, and they’ve already proven they don’t really get what these books are all about.

  4. Kiri

    I feel like you guys should re-release it because you would do a 10x better job than what it is now. I’m rereading all the books just to try and get the creepy Danila version of Dimitri out of my head!

    • Wendy Darling

      Oh yes, purge the movie Dimitri from your head and let book Dimitri soothe you! That’s a much better way to spend your time.

      Such great characters. I don’t know how this happened.

  5. Filippa

    I agree with everything you’ve wrote! I was so dissapointed when I saw the movie and I kind of wish that I didn’t. I hade such high hopes and none if it lived up to my expectations. Now I’m just sad that we probably won’t get to see Adrian :(
    I do hope there will be a second one, directed by anyone else except the Waters brothers. They work best with comedy and VA isn’t all about comedy, it’s about love, family, friendship, loyality etc. I don’t think they are capable of directing that kind of movie.
    And that part with Dimitri/Danila and Rose/Zoey not having chemistry I really couldn’t agree more. I think Danila is hot/cute in his other movies but this just wasn’t good. He looked so old and it just felt wrong and disgusting watching him with Rose.
    If somebody else makes a second movie, I do hope they’ll rethink the casting choices and make it more serious. :)

    • Wendy Darling

      I kinda wish I hadn’t seen this, either. *sigh* But maybe it’s a good thing we won’t see Adrian? If they messed up with Rose and Dimitri, imagine how terrible it could get with Adrian! He’d be even harder to cast, I think.

      There are rumors about crowd-funding for FROSTBITE, but I don’t know how successful that would be. I totally agree that VA is about much, much more than comedy–and they didn’t even get the comedy right! It wasn’t funny at all, except unintentionally.

      I keep hearing Danila is great in his other movies! I wish I could see them here, but I don’t think there’s anything available. He does look pretty hot in some of his IMDB photos, I don’t know where THAT guy was in this movie. And yeah…it did feel wrong and off-putting to watch the two actors making out. Their physical differences and age gap and lack of chemistry just mad eit all really icky.

  6. AVee

    I couldn’t have summed up the movie any better. I completely agree with you. I just finished watching it – finally – and it was horrendous! Such a disappointment that it hurts my heart just to think that Richelle let this happen to her beautiful series! I had major doubts about the VA movie when I first saw the trailer, but this movie flattened out possibly harder than Beautiful Creatures did. What a waste. For me, in my own personal opinion, the casting could have been chosen better. While they are all good actors, they didn’t step into the shoes of each character for me. The movie made everything seem so… cliche. It was also very rushed. I deeply agree in the fact that if you haven’t read the series you won’t know what the hell is going on. And the love charm scene fell horribly flat. They raw, forbidden passion that Rose and Dimitri have in the series didn’t show at all in the film. It was just another boy meets girl and they seem to spend a few days together and automatically fall in love feel. Their romance is definitely one of my favorites! And this movie just crushed all those images and feelings toward that love they shared.

    What. A. Tragedy.

    • Wendy Darling

      Awww, Avee–your disappointment is written all over your comment! (Sorry, so behind on answering comments.) Authors don’t really have control over film adaptations, so I’m not sure it’s fair to blame Richelle Mead–but I will say that sometimes I’ll hear about who’s attached to an adaptation and have a pretty good sense of whether or not it will be good. But to be fair, not everyone is familiar with film production, and certainly I’ve been surprised by movies I didn’t think were going to be good, either.

      I agree that the casting was a big part of the problem here. Some people do seem to like Zoey and Danila, but I dunno–they never inhabited these characters for me the way they should have.

      Oh man, when you say “raw, forbidden passion,” I wanna read that love charm scene in the book again! That’s exactly how the book felt. The movie version of that scene felt like a bad Saturday Night Live parody of it.

  7. Karinova

    Ur review just perfectly describe what i felt after watching VA movie.
    I come from Indonesia and i’ve read the whole VA novel series and i love them so much. Here, almost all of my friends never read these novels and i kept promoting how great these novel and we must watch the movie.
    For me, the novels have perfect love drama part from twillight, a mysterious and adventure part from harry potter, and the story really touched my heart.

    After I watch the movie, i was so disappointed and shame. The movie looks like a student college who presenting a project paper without doing research and just copy paste any data from google quickly, not understandable, overlapping,messed up. I feel really sad, it was really far from my expectation.And my friend who watched VA movie with me felt asleep beside me.

    • Wendy Darling

      :( I’m sorry you were disappointed by the movie too, Karinova. The relationships and romance in the books are done SO well, and the movie just…didn’t even come close.

      And hah, your analogy about a sloppy student paper/project is a good one. It’s terrible that this is the impression that people have of Vampire Academy, when readers know that the books are phenomenal. At least we can always reread them? We can take comfort in that.

  8. Danielle Richardson

    I would have watched this movie to support the books and Richelle Mead, but I’ve heard so many terrible things about it that I changed my mind. The trailer made the movie look incredibly cheap and cliche, which saddens me because VA is so much better than that! A lot of the movies for YA literature completely suck because they aren’t faithful to the books and whoever’s in charge doesn’t put in the time or effort to make a movie that’s worth it. But yeah, I mainly didn’t want to see this movie because I didn’t want it to ruin the image of the book for me.

    • Wendy Darling

      She likely would have just gotten flat fees (and maybe a bit more if it performed really well), so the support really would just be sending a message to studios when the movie first came out. I don’t blame you at all for not seeing the film, though–it was pretty terrible, and all these months later I still can’t get over it. You were smart to stay away.

      The other YA adaptations I’ve seen this year have actually been pretty good, though! It’s been heartening to see them getting the care and attention they deserve. Coming up soon: IF I STAY is fantastic, and I quite liked THE GIVER, too.

  9. Rachel

    I actually liked this movie and to be honest i thought that zoey was amazing as rose. i am sorry but i completely disagree. some moments were kinda cringe worthy but in a way that it was sort of ironic. as if they were like “yeah you thought you’d hear a stupid line like that, there you go, seems kinda out of character? well that’s because this is not a stupid movie.” kinda way. i mean that Luna Lovegood walk rose did at the end of the movie seemed as if the waters brothers were saying “oh and thats why you can compare this to harry potter. other than the fact that st. vladimirs is also an academy thats pretty much it!” it just felt like dark humor/sarcasm to me, like they were sort of mocking all those people that immediately started comparing it to harry potter and twilight and would not see past that comparison, and i kinda liked that. or i just desperately wanted this movie to be good that i’m deluding myself.i am not the type though.
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  10. Sashana

    I don’t regret watching the movie because I wanted to support Richelle Mead but I wish I could erase how horrible it was from my memory. It looked worse than a made for Tv movie. The special effects were cheap, the acting was cringe worthy, and the Moroi’s accents threw me for a loop.

    • Kate Bond

      Oh, oh, oh my God. How did we forget to mention those dumb accents?

      And yeah, it was cheap-looking. Just all around cheap-looking.

      I agree about supporting the underlying property and the author–we did see it opening day, after all–but man. The people who made this thing really did not respect us as fans. Like, at all.

      • Sashana

        Besides the fact that they’re all Americans what bothered me is that only some of the Moroi had accents and some didn’t. If you were going to have accents then at least be consistent.

  11. Stephanie @ Inspiring Insomnia

    You guys make a great point about how all these YA film bombs gives people a great excuse to snicker at YA book fans. I like to read Deadline.com, and those commenters, some of whom are in the film industry, were positively gleeful over the failure of Vampire Academy. Of course, I don’t agree with that attitude, but if people are only exposed to YA via these abysmal films, I cannot blame them for assuming the source material is likely terrible, too.

    Let’s chat about Beautiful Creatures for a moment. I hated the book, but I was curious enough to check out the film – but only when it came out on HBO. They somehow snagged Emma Thompson, Jeremy Irons, and Viola Davis, but the main couple was awful. Painful to watch. Those casting choices still will not compute.

    I love the VA books, too, and I’m very disappointed to hear how badly the film turned out. I definitely won’t be seeing it in the theater, but I’ll probably check it out on Redbox. I had a bad feeling when I saw the trailer, mainly due to Rose. My first impression of her was “shallow Valley Girl,” which obviously is about 180 degrees from the amazing book character. I didn’t get a feel for Dimitri from the trailer, but the way you guys describe him…ugh. It sounds like they casted for the Russian accent first.

    Everyone is trying to get the next Twilight or THG, and I imagine that desperation is leading to some very bad decisions. I picture producers, who have no knowledge of the books, simply googling “Best-selling YA series,” and then going down the list and cranking out the films before someone else can get to them first.
    Stephanie @ Inspiring Insomnia recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday # 41: Ten Things I Love About Blogging

    • Kate Bond

      To be fair. Deadline commenters are monsters, regardless of the topic. But yeah, it was hard to see what a lot of them were saying about source material that’s actually really lovely.

      And I agree with you that producers who know nothing about the properties they’re developing are really screwing all of us.

      It reminds me of a story I heard recently–remember the 90’s show The New adventures of Winnie the Pooh? OK, so what ALMOST happened with that cartoon is absolutely horrifying. Apparently an executive wanted to make a Calvin and Hobbes tv show, but Bill Watterson wouldn’t sell the rights, so that exec tried to turn Winnie the Pooh into Calvin and Hobbes. I am not kidding you. He somehow lost that battle, but can you IMAGINE? That’s what I think happens with the YA adaptations–studios want their version of Twilight or THG, and they try to force other properties to share characteristics with those successful movies, rather than figuring out what about the new thing resonates with readers. Sigh. Oh, well.
      Kate Bond recently posted…Retelling Fairy Tales: guest post + The Glass Casket giveaway

    • Wendy Darling

      Deadline is great, but it’s read by a lot of people with axes to grind. The gleeful, scornful attitude comes out with just about every post. I see a lot of that attitude around the blogosphere/Twitter, too, often from people who don’t seem to read/enjoy a lot of YA but who seem to like to weigh in the scandal of the week or just look on it as an industry interest type thing.

      But yes, the last thing I’d want is for these terrible films to perpetuate the idea that YA is a silly fad that doesn’t have anything to offer to discerning readers. That’s so far from the truth with this particular series that it really burns that they did such an abysmal job with the adaptation.

      I thought it was interesting that they got those names for BC, too. (A book I found pretty boring, btw. And I usually love gothics.) Stunt casting prestigious actors for blockbusters/popcorn fare is a big fad these days, but I’m guessing there were handsome profits/not a huge time commitment involved for those, and/or perhaps someone knows someone on the agency/friend level to get those actors.

      “Shallow Valley girl” isn’t too far off from the Rose casting, nor the Mad-Libbing of YA bestsellers to turn into profitable film ventures.

  12. Lauren @ Love is not a triangle

    I have no idea if I’ve commented on this already. But I did read it when you posted it and was highly entertained. It makes me incredibly sad that this movie was so bad :(. I HATE when that happens, especially to such a great YA book. I wish we’d gotten a video of your reactions to this movie while you were watching it. LOVE that Mr. Darling was dragged along. I make mine see these types of movies with me too. (he usually doesn’t mind though). Thanks for taking one for the team and reporting back on this movie!
    Lauren @ Love is not a triangle recently posted…The Winner’s Curse Blog Tour + Giveaway Interview with author Marie Rutkoski

    • Kate Bond

      I only make Mr. Bond see movies I think will be good with me. I LOVED seeing the Twilight movies in theater, and I laughed so hard through them with my friend Samantha, but Mr. Bond would have wanted to leave.

      I’d like video of our reactions, too–and of the looks on our faces when we walked into the theater opening day and there was one dude sitting by himself and a group of ladies, and that was it.

      So, so bummed that it was bad. I really loved this book.
      Kate Bond recently posted…Retelling Fairy Tales: guest post + The Glass Casket giveaway

    • Wendy Darling

      Oh, Mr. Darling really doesn’t mind going to these things either. Sometimes if it looks REALLY girly he’ll put his foot down (*cough* Austenland *cough*) but generally he’s pretty good-humored about the opportunity to snark at stuff. I’m the same way, we see plenty of dumb action films just for the entertainment value.

      I don’t think you would have gotten much out of that video since I spent so much time under my wrap, Lauren. But yeah, it was a disappointing experience. In no small part because this means we’ll never see Adrian! :( Boooooo.

  13. naia

    richelle mead has been so upbeat and gracious throughout this entire thing. the movie based on book is being ridiculed by critics and the audience. Same happened with twilight, but at least its status as a cultural phenomenon and the healthy box office returns soothed the sting. I can’t say the same for Vampire academy. horrible reviews and quite possibly the worst box office turnout of 2014. I’m so sad and embarrassed for RM.

    • Wendy Darling

      I know what you mean. As a fan, I don’t think she needs to feel any embarrassment at all, since her books were fantastic. But I understand why the association might not be the first thing you’d want people to think of. It’s done extremely poorly in comparison to a lot of YA adaptations, too, not just the big ones like Twilight or Harry Potter.

      Maybe down the road someone will adapt this for TV or something. It’s too bad.

  14. Summer/Sunny

    *applauds* I haven’t read the books, but the trailer looked AWFUL. I just saw another blogger praising it and I really liked reading her reasons, but I did have problem with seeing it just so they could make a 2nd one. They need to make a GOOD 2nd one if they do anything because like you said, YA adaptions are GREAT, but only if they really are great, you know? Don’t just fling one out there because everything you mentioned made me cringe. You poor souls for enduring that. At least it made me laugh reading ;)
    Summer/Sunny recently posted…The Dos and Don’ts of YA Romance

    • Wendy Darling

      We’re hearing some people enjoyed the film, and I’m truly glad they did. It seems overall it wasn’t a success, though, judging by box office numbers. And that’s what it really comes down to in the end.

      And yes, it’s better not to have a YA adaptation if it’s going to be a crappy one. I’d rather reread the books, thanks.

  15. Darith L.

    Well, that sucks. It’s unfortunate they decided to take the humor route and it hurt the film. Hopefully Divergent will succeed! I’m counting on Lionsgate because I really want to see all three books on the big screen! :D

    • Wendy Darling

      I’m hoping DIVERGENT is good, too! It has a producing team/studios behind it that seem more well suited to this material. Fingers crossed, I’m pretty excited that we only have to wait another month or so for it.

  16. Emily

    I’ve actually not read the books in this series, but I’m sad to hear that the movie didn’t seem to work out well for the both of you :( Definitely, I think even from the little I know about the series, it seems that it was twisted quite a little bit? And even from what I hear about the movie’s version of Rose, it seems like I may not really like it! Also, if newbies like me watch it, since you pointed out that there’s a fast pace, I may not be able to fully understand what’s going on too ><) and the Fault In Our Stars looks decent, though I wasn't a huge fan of the novel itself! Right now though, I'm more excited for news about the Angelfall movie, and also for the release of Mockingjay!! :D (even though Philip Seymour Hoffman has passed away :( ) Wonderful review, ladies!! Thank you so much! <33
    Emily recently posted…And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard

    • Wendy Darling

      The movie actually stays very faithful to the actual plot of the book, if the plot were zipping along at supersonic speed. But it definitely twists the characters, themes, relationships, and emotions, which are what I value most from the stories. And yes, my husband hadn’t read the books and had no IDEA what was going on.

      Omg, it would be amazing if ANGELFALL gets made. I have hopes for it since the filmmakers behind it are well-seasoned and have great connections, and have made some entertaining films in the past. I’m looking forward to MOCKINGJAY, too. :)

  17. Faye @ The Social Potato

    I’m really sad that it didn’t reach expectations :( I kind of feel the same when I watched the film “Ender’s Game”. I was such a huge fan of that film and everything it symbolized, and was super disappointed when they didn’t even touch the essence or the reasons why Ender was the way he was by the end of the film, and it seemed to me they rushed it and left the important parts out to make way for the CGI (which I do admit were pretty cool, but still!!)

    I’m not sure if I want to watch this movie. I haven’t read Vampire Academy yet (the book is sitting in my shelf though), and was thinking of just watching this film instead but perhaps it would be wiser to stick to the books. I don’t think I’d want to endure what you ladies have endured – cheesy writing, dialogue, interaction… blech!

    Awesome discussion post!
    Faye @ The Social Potato recently posted…V-Day Special: Letters to our Valentines

    • Wendy Darling

      Oh, I haven’t seen Ender’s Game yet! I want to, though, but I’m debating whether I should try to read the book first. I know, I know, I’ve had the book forever and people keep telling me I need to read it. I’m sorry to hear you were disappointed by it, but honestly–at least the CGI looked good, and maybe the action? VA failed on pretty much every level, imo.

      Reading the books would be my vote. And then you can watch the movie sometime when it comes on tv and you can moan along with us. (And laugh, you will laugh, too.)

    • Kate Bond

      Ender’s Game is one of my all-time favorite books (although I’ve been leaving it off my lists while OSC is alive and being a bigot, because he’s tainted it for me), and the movie really just stripped the heart out of it. It was technically absolutely the same story, but the emotions just were not there. And Asa Butterfield is a really good actor, so I’m not sure what happened. I guess we blame the Director for that one? It’s like he made a movie for teenage boys or something.

      I don’t think you’ll understand what’s going on in the movie if you haven’t read at least the first book, Faye. The pacing is too fast.
      Kate Bond recently posted…Literary Swoon: Our Fictional Crushes!

  18. Andrea @The Bookish Babe

    I don’t know that I have anything to add to this discussion, other than, awww…this makes my heart hurt. VA is one of my top YA series, and to see it become this campy, laughable movie makes me sad. I could tell from the first promo piece that I was not going to be happy.

    I’ve been seeing some authors tweeting about how this needs to be supported and I agree with you, why should we support a shoddy adaptation? I don’t want *more* shoddy adaptations. If I watched VA with someone who hadn’t read the series, I would be very embarrassed.

    Thanks for the very thorough, entertaining post, ladies!
    Andrea @The Bookish Babe recently posted…REVIEW: PARTY GIRL by RACHEL HOLLIS

    • Wendy Darling

      It makes my heart hurt too, Andrea. :( HOLD ME, please hold me. It’s so disappointing to see this amazing story reduced to such an utterly superficial and ridiculous sketch.

      And ugh, I’m glad you agree about the guilting of readers for not supporting this film, I don’t understand the logic in that thinking at all. Unless you’re actually friends with the author (and really, how many of us can claim that? Although I know some bloggers probably feel a pseudo-closeness to authors after tweeting with them or whatever.), I don’t see any reason to be “supporting” bad movies, which just sends the message that we will accept poor quality. And possibly that the books are poor quality too, which should be the last thing anybody wants. I get it if authors want to support each other as a professional courtesy, but it’s pretty presumptuous to assume that readers owe them anything. Especially asking them to essentially compromise their own standards of quality, or shut up about them.

      And hah, I know what you mean about being embarrassed had you gone with someone who hadn’t read the books. It would be mortifying to try to explain why you loved it so much.

      • Kate Bond

        The fans bother me more than the fellow authors do, frankly. It feels like a cult. I don’t like it.

        I know a lot of YA authors are friends with each other, but I think the bigger thing is that they want any adaptation, good or bad, to succeed, because that makes it more likely that THEIR stuff will get bought and adapted. So there’s some self-interest there. And there’s nothing wrong with that, but it has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not a movie is any good.
        Kate Bond recently posted…Literary Swoon: Our Fictional Crushes!

        • Wendy Darling

          It bothers me that fans do that to each other, too. But authors bother me more than fans, because there’s an entitlement thing going on there that I don’t like. Plus I don’t always expect fans to understand the big picture in relation to business, etiquette, and so and and so forth. I expect more from the professionals in any business, whether it’s publishing or films or art or video games or whatever.

          Agreed very much on the reason why a lot of authors go out to support one another, if YA adaptations are succeeding it definitely helps other projects to be optioned and produced. (It’s the same thing with all massive amount of noise on Twitter–yes, some of it is genuine, but a lot of it is also appears to be reciprocal grooming.) And as much as I understand professional/friend courtesy, I don’t trust half of it, anyway–if authors do actually know each other, it’s absolutely understandable they’d want to support one another, regardless of whether they think the book or film is any good or not. Expecting and shaming readers into doing the same, however, is ludicrous.

          I’ll shut up now. :P

  19. Layla A

    Bahaha. I think I probably won’t see this film – I’m in the middle of Frostbite right now, and I think I’d rather immerse myself in book!world than see how the adaptation fares.

    Especially because the movie is not going to be as homoerotic as that first book was for me, let me tell you. And it sounds from your review like they skimp on the strong female friendship aspect of the series in favor of a love triangle (boring! insulting! sexist!). While I don’t necessarily need for the movie to retain the crazy subtextiness of the book(s? I’m unclear how this will continue over the series), I at least want to see Lissa and Rose being kindred spirits and BFFs for life. Those are my feels.

    Thanks for taking one for the team here.
    Layla A recently posted…The Countess Conspiracy (Brothers Sinister, #3)

    • Wendy Darling

      Oh no, please don’t–even on our short acquaintance, I am pretty confident in saying that you would absolutely hate it. I’m curious what you’ll think of FROSTBITE, though, so many people dislike that particular one, but as I said, it ended up being one of my favorites. Adrian is introduced in this one!

      And hah, I didn’t pick up on homoerotic aspects to VA, and I don’t think I’ve heard anyone else mention this either? I’ll have to come check out your review next week.

      I would say they skimped out on every single conceivable aspect of the story. Not a single element was done at all well.

      • Layla A

        I need to review all the VA books (I’m on book 4 now) but I don’t want to stop reading. As for Frostbite, I actually really liked it – I think my favorite part of these books so far has been watching Rose develop as a character. (And this is really well-executed in the books – how much has she grown since Vampire Academy? SO MUCH. But it’s been so organic!) So that’s part of the reason I liked Frostbite as much as I did – watching Rose evolve in response to the world around her is both heartbreaking and delightful in places. And having her (however grudgingly) rethink her perspectives on her mother and Mia was also really interesting to me. It would have been easy to leave Mia as a kind of steady Mean Girl villain in the series, but I like that Mead doesn’t take that road.

        The subtext – I still need to expand my review of VA. I’ll get there in the next few days, but I’m waiting for my feels to settle.
        Layla A recently posted…Blood Promise (Vampire Academy, #4)

        • Wendy Darling

          Oh, GOOD! I’m glad to hear you liked FROSTBITE. Rose’s character development is one of my favorite things about this series, too, and I also appreciate that in this market, 9 times out of 10, this story would have been about the princess, not about the guardian who has to do her duty. (Not without a whole lot of “I just want a life that is my oowwwwwwwn,” anyway. Cue the dramatic Memoirs of a Geisha trailer moment.) A lot of the secondary characters are very well developed, too.

          Maybe a review of the series in in order when you’re done? Sometimes I do that with older titles if I don’t want to write them for all of the books.

  20. Lily B

    I have not seen the movie, just watching the trailer had me cringing thought. It looked like it might be bad. I was wary cause I have not read vampire academy and after watching the trailer I pushed it back more and more. But I know a lot of my friends loved it and hated the movie, so I will have to give it a shot anyway.
    Lily B recently posted…Xpresso Book Tours: Reaper’s Rhythm Review + Giveaway

    • Wendy Darling

      The trailers were not good at all, but I was still hoping against hope that it was just…a bad trailer. Sadly, the movie was an even bigger mess.

      I looooove the books so much. I hope you give them a chance sometime.

  21. Candace

    I have only read the first book and it was so long ago now that I barely remember it at all. I’ve debated going to the movie but it sounds like it’s just not worth it. That’s really sad too. It seems like one that had potential to be really good, it just wasn’t done well at all. :(
    Candace recently posted…Fire & Ice: Misty Provencher Guest Post + Giveaway!

  22. Lucy

    I’m such a big fan of Richelle Mead’s books that I thought I’d be first in line to see this movie. But I’ve been scared off by the reviews so far, and especially after reading about your experience. It’s just so sad. I’m really gun-shy about these YA adaptations after being burned so many times.

    At least you could all laugh about it together. Maybe I’ll watch it at home with a drinking game.
    Thanks, ladies!
    Lucy recently posted…I Heart Kindle Deals

    • Wendy Darling

      I’m a huge fan of hers, too–I’ve read everything so far! I was curious if there would be a Movie Date post for this on your blog, but I can see now why that hasn’t happened yet. Watching at home is a good idea, though, that way you won’t have to hold it in if you are screaming with laughter.

      We watched this with cocktails beforehand, btw. I would recommend LOTS on hand.

  23. Nereyda @Mostly YA Book Obsessed

    This makes me so so sad…
    VA is one of my favoritest ever series (I bow down to Richelle Mead) and I hate that they did this to the books. Yes, we want to see these books come to life, but we want to see them done right. From the previews, it just seemed like the tone of the movie was all wrong. I hated most of the casting and it all looked cheesy. What’s worse it that this will probably be the beginning of the end of books-to-movies. And if they are done as bad as this, it might not be such a bad thing.
    I keep saying that series that have more than 3 books should be made into tv shows. Even if they make one per year the actors will be so old by the time the series is done. IF it gets done. It worked for Harry Potter because they started as kids. Go to the CW, this is the market they should be aiming for for fans of the book and to find new fans.
    I don’t want to ruin my precious VA so I opted to see the Lego movie instead. It was a good choice :)
    Nereyda @Mostly YA Book Obsessed recently posted…Book Looks (40) + Cover Reveal: The Queen of Zombie Hearts by Gena Showalter!

    • Kate Bond

      I think books will be turned into movies (and tv shows) for as long as there ARE movies, because books have always been a big source for Hollywood. They may cool down about YA, but I really don’t think so–not while The Hunger Games still has successful movies coming out. We’ll see how The Fault in Our Stars and Divergent do. Fingers crossed.

      And the problem with a lot of book series that are adapted for tv is that the series have very definite conclusions, you know? So it’s tough to stretch to an unknown number of seasons. The people adapting the series would really have to change a lot (which I think is better anyway, frankly). I agree that tv is a much better choice for book adaptations in general, though.

      Kate Bond recently posted…Literary Swoon: Our Fictional Crushes!

  24. Kelly

    I’m probably one of the few that haven’t read the series either, but this movie sounds lame (is that the word kids use these days?) Especially if you loved the books, I can image how pissed off you’d be walking out of the cinema after they butchered it. I don’t think the movie is out in Australia yet, but has it had many positive reviews in the US yet? The few I HAVE seen, have said pretty much the same thing. It didn’t hold the same charm and sass the books show, and a big letdown.
    Kelly recently posted…Afterworld by Lynnette Lounsbury

    • Kate Bond

      Ha, no, it hasn’t gotten many positive reviews. They didn’t even screen it for critics, so it didn’t really have any reviews at all before it was released.

      SUCH a bummer.

      You should read the books. They’re really good–especially the first few.
      Kate Bond recently posted…Literary Swoon: Our Fictional Crushes!

  25. fishgirl182

    I love that there are so man responses to this post. Though I do agree with you on some of your points, I actually enjoyed the movie. Was it the movie I would made (were I that talented) – probably not. But I had a fun with it and I really enjoyed the actors. I do think there was a lot of info dumping but it wasn’t as bad as I’ve seen it done in other movies. And I though Zoey and Danila were cute together! Clearly this is a really divisive film. People seem to love it or hate it. I guess I’m not of the love it camp albeit in a I know it’s campy but I kind of love it way.

    I feel like the people making a lot of these movies are trying to make them too similar to each other though in order to make more money. I really just want someone to make a good movie, vs something that they can sell as the next Twilight (which was a godawful movie that made a lot of money).

    While VA wasn’t perfect, it was fun and it could have been way worse (in my opinion).

    Also, why can no YA movie ever get good special effects? Why do the wolves always look so awful? Just don’t use them or get a good company to do them. At least they weren’t in it much, unlike the Twilight movies which had so much bad CGI.

    Thanks for sharing your opinions, ladies!
    fishgirl182 recently posted…Crush Confessions with Tammy Blackwell

    • Kate Bond

      I’m glad you liked the movie. I wish we had enjoyed it.

      People making ANY kind of movie are trying to make the similar to things that have already been made, because if they take a chance on something different and the project fails, they lose their job. But if it’s a project that is similar to something that has succeeded and it fails, they can legitimately say there was no way they could have seen the failure coming, and their job is safe.

      The real problem for me with the Twilight movies is that all the major characters wore color contacts (including Kristen Stewart). You can’t act with colored contacts in, because so many emotions get conveyed through things like pupil dilation. Colored contacts move people into the uncanny valley, like they’re cg creatures or something.
      Kate Bond recently posted…Literary Swoon: Our Fictional Crushes!

  26. Keertana @ Ivy Book Bindings

    You know, I’ve been wondering if I was watching the wrong trailer of this film because the majority of viewers were really excited about this film while I cringed at the humor-filled trailer. Like you mentioned, it didn’t capture the tone of the books AT ALL. I’m not a huge VA fan – I enjoyed the books but Mead’s world lost steam for me towards the end and I have no plans of picking up the spin-off or continuing with her work, really. Yet, it’s a shame that this movie adaptation is so laughably poor and riddled with slut-shaming and poor cast choices. I do have high hopes for both Divergent and The Fault in Our Stars, which look fantastic, and I’m hoping to see both The Spectacular Now and The Book Thief soon as I’ve heard those film adaptations were excellent, but it’s a real shame about VA. Thanks for such an honest review and discussion about this film, Wendy and Kate – I really appreciate it and will steer clear of this one for sure.
    Keertana @ Ivy Book Bindings recently posted…Romance Mini-Reviews: Bitter Spirits & Just One Night

    • Kate Bond

      I agree with you about the later books in the series–I didn’t like Sydney, or the way things were resolved with Dimitri (or Adrian, for that matter)–so I haven’t read the spinoff series. I really, really, really loved the first few books, though, so the movie kind of broke my heart.

      TFIOS and Divergent look very good. Fingers crossed.

  27. Lisa Farhana

    So I just saw the VA movie, and if I had to sum it up in one word I’d say “cringeworthy”. Seriously. I watched 70% of the movie with my hand over my eyes, peeking between my fingers. *wince*

    The movie focus is all over the place. I don’t know if they were trying to emphasis Lissa and Rose’s friendship (meh), or the shadowkissed thing (also meh), or Rose’s journey on becoming a badass guardian (definitely meh)… It’s like watching an unfinished movie. So many loose ends: the thing with Ms Karp, the telegrams, the spirit bond, the blood-whore thing…

    Danila Kozlovsky is gorgeous, but I don’t think he succeeded in portraying Dimitri. It’s hard to understand his dialogues because of the accent, and he seemed so…stiff? And you guys are right; there are no chemistry between Dimitri and Rose at all in the movie, which is kind of surprising to me since Danila and Zoey definitely clicked in real life. It’s a PAIN to watch the charm scene.

    And what is it with Queen Tatiana? And the speeches? GAH!

    And I’m a bit upset that they made Mason look like just another boy with an unrequited crush. I don’t quite remember everything in the book but I do remember loving Mason and Rose’s friendship. I think that that got downplayed in the movie.

    All in all, it seems to me that VA is trying to hard to be the next Mean Girls. Shame. It could have been so great.

    I want my money back.

    • Kate Bond

      Thank you for reporting back!

      I cringed through the entire thing. I was literally facing backwards in my seat by the end of the movie. It’s so, so sad.

      And I agree with everything you said about Danila. The lack of on-camera chemistry between those two was just baffling.

      And the SPEEEEEECHES! Argh! And Rose’s “Now that’s what I call fire power!” line or whatever when Christian set those tiny dogs on fire!

      And yeah, Mason mostly jsut seemed like he was whiny about getting friendzoned.

  28. Giselle

    Eeeeesh well I knew it would be a flop based on the trailer alone! I was SO disappointed when I saw that and realized it was NOT A JOKE! “You were fornicating with her” Bahahah!! And I have heard about Rose being a mean girl which is not cool. I love Rose she’s one of my fav book heroines so poo to that! Casting can be so hard though and no matter what some people will hate the picks. Next up will be Divergent – that trailer was better but still left me unsure. That actress had the same bored expression the whole time!
    Giselle recently posted…Discussion Review: The Haven by Carol Lynch Williams

    • Kate Bond

      I gotta say, I WANT to like things. I went into this movie thinking that even of they completely didn’t get the books, I’d be happy if it was funny. But it wasn’t. And the actors had NO chemistry with each other.

      I’m not a huge fan of Divergent, so I at least won’t feel insulted if it’s not good.

  29. Heather @ Buried in Books

    Just wanted to say I absolutely loved your review of the movie. I wasn’t a fan of the VA so I had no intention of seeing the movie, but the trailer made it look like a spoof of the book. I read the first one and didn’t find that much humor in it. Lissa and Rose didn’t match, I could tell right away it wasn’t going to be a good adaptation. I’m sorry for all of you fans and for all of YAdom. I do wish the authors had more control of the screenplays or if that wasn’t the problem, the writers read the whole series so they could understand the characters. At least you had fun!

    Heather @ Buried in Books recently posted…WOW- Waiting on Wednesday

    • Kate Bond

      What’s crazy is that it seems like the screenwriter, based on the interviews I’ve read, HAS read the whole series. I don’t… I think that maybe the problem is that he doesn’t understand the dynamics of feminine friendships? I don’t know.

    • Kate Bond

      Oh, that’s interesting. I wonder how you’ll feel about the books (which you MUST read) after having seen the movie.

      • Jess @ Such A Novel Idea

        It definitely made me WANT to read them and I did buy the set a few days ago (THANK YOU Amazon daily deals!) I usually have a rule about not seeing a movie before reading the book, but I think in this instance it was best, because I didn’t end up loathing the movie.

        However, I am beyond excited to dig into this series, because EVERYONE seems to love it so much!
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        • Wendy Darling

          I’m so glad you bought the books! I hope you enjoy them, they are so so good. I personally think book two is when they start getting excellent…but try to ignore that last one. :x

          Not everyone seems to love the books, although I couldn’t tell you why. ;)

          Also, I didn’t see BC, but I thought TMI was a pretty decent adaptation. Had they left out or redone some of the awful cheesy love scenes and maybe recast a bit, I think I would have liked it even more.

  30. Tanja

    And there you go. I had a bad feeling about this from the start and as always my gut never disappointed me. Where should I start ladies. Firstly one of the greatest strength of these books are the characters. I mean vampires are awesome and all that but these characters are something I lived with and cried for. Now with trowing that trough the window you lose everything if you ask me. I’m so sad to hear that and even sadder that most will go and see the movie and assume that the books are as bad. Too bad but thank you for this amazing review ladies. I’ll stay away from all this.
    Tanja recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday (#82)

    • Kate Bond

      I don’t understand how anyone could read these books and not get that the characters are what really pulls people in. Sigh. So upsetting.

  31. Angela Hoffman

    Wendy — As I said I would, I have used part of my glorious snow day here in the Southeast to read the post and some of the comments. :) One of my friends and I went to VA on Friday night as an indulgence after a long week of teaching for both of us. We’re both YA book addicts with a healthy sense of good humor.


    We could *not* stop ourselves from sending each other many, too many, sidelong glances during the movie and snickering repeatedly. (Going with a friend who gets it makes movie-viewing all the better, doesn’t it?) As already discussed, Dmitri and Rose had zero chemistry and zero build-up; where is the hot guy from IMDB?! That and the rushing and the bad costuming and the fake-y accents and how everyone just seemed like a caricature…ugggh. None of the actors looked good enough or acted classy enough to be royal elites, even with high school politics mixed in. My friend declared it bad enough that it was good (which I couldn’t get behind completely), but we both agreed that it was only worth a watch on Netflix at most. I think it would have done much better as a TV adaptation b/c there’s so much source material to work with and spread across seasons.

    • Wendy Darling

      Angela, you limited yourself to glances? I admire your self control, hah.

      We were just talking about how different Danila looks in the movie than on some of those amazing IMDB photos. I do NOT understand their awkwardness together or why we were forced to watch it, the whole thing was just terrible. I agree with the thing about the actors not looking quite royal/classy enough, too, it was like TV sitcom’s window dressing for a royal visit or something. I can’t get behind the “so bad it was good” thing, either, and agree, the series probably lends itself well to a television adaptation. Going with a friend definitely helps to make these things more fun and bearable, though!

      Also, apologies for the weird response to your tweet about this. It came during the middle of tweets to me about our Golden Compass readalong, which is why I thought you were reading THAT on your snowy day and I thought it was perfect, I didn’t realize you were talking about this!

  32. Savannah

    First off, I have yet to see the movie and will not go see it. Not unless I can get it cheap like on Redbox or Netlfix. I had problems with the movie before it even hit the theaters. What is up with the marketing? The new covers on the book look like a mix of buffy and mean girls. That is NOT AT ALL what I pictured the movie to be. I pictured a more tomb raider vibe with lots of actions and romance. I think they also pushed the movie too fast. They got casting and everything right away. Just like when writers are writing stories they let their stories sit for a while and then go back. They should have taken the time with the movie instead of rushing it. Also, it doesn’t help that every BIG YA book is becoming a movie. It’s honestly getting tiring and old. Who wants to see the same thing over and over again? I think directors are relying too much on the fan base. I love books. And when a book is becoming a movie, I have big expectations for it. I love this series as the books not the movie.

    FYI: I’m not surprised that it flopped. I expected it. Look what happen to TMI. Flopped as well.

    I hope that the people in Hollywood get it together and produce some good adaptions.
    Savannah recently posted…Review: Infinite

    • Kate Bond

      I know. SO MUCH goes into making a successful movie, and it usually takes years and years to get anything made because of people’s availability and stuff. I wonder if maybe they’re rushing these YA projects to try to catch the fans while they’re still teenagers. Whatever it is, I wish they’d stop.

      You’re probably right to wait for Netflix.
      Kate Bond recently posted…What Went Wrong with the Vampire Academy movie?

  33. A Canadian Girl

    I love the VA series but after seeing the trailer, I had very little interest in seeing the movie. The trailer just seemed like it was trying too hard to be funny and didn’t really match the tone of the books. The few clips that were then released further made me not want to watch the movie because of the dialogue and pace. Had I not read the books, I would have been lost trying to figure out what the movie was going to be about. After seeing your review, I’m glad I haven’t seen it yet, Wendy. All of the other reviews I’ve seen have been very positive but I feel that my reaction would be like yours.
    A Canadian Girl recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday: Since You’ve Been Gone

    • Kate Bond

      Yeah…maybe you’ll enjoy it more if you go into it with low expectations? It also kind of depends on how much you love the first few books–Wendy and I are both huge fans of the series, and of Rose in particular, so we weren’t able to enjoy this in a so-bad-it’s-good way.

  34. Valerie

    Oh man, you guys really hated it!

    Honestly I enjoyed it. It was cheesy, and silly, and definitely rough-around-the-edges, but I kind of enjoyed that. There’s been so much life-or-death fantasy that I didn’t mind it being decidedly more… rompy. You know? Maybe it’s because I found the book itself a bit cringey at times, so I didn’t mind the movie so much. I’d already turned all my cringe-impulses off and just decided to laugh at everything. (That being said, Lissa’s speech at the end broke through my defenses. ggh.) I didn’t think Dmitri and Rose lacked chemistry at all… but Dmitri was exactly my type so I may have been projecting. ;)

    My husband came with me and loved it (possibly more than I did). He hasn’t read the books, but I think he liked the rompy nature and sassy main character. (Her workout outfits probably helped.) I guess we’re the outliers? We watch a lot of cringey independent movies so our reliance of Netflix may have saved us here… but man, I’m so sad that you guys hated it so much! I know how much you love the series.
    Valerie recently posted…Story envy

    • Kate Bond

      What’s confusing for me, Valerie, is that Wendy and I had been defending the movie before it came out, telling people to wait til they saw it to judge! but I think we were both a little taken aback by how rigidly they stuck to the plot while straying from the characters. In particular.

      We also both LOVE these books, and have both spent time working in the movie industry, and I think those two things combined to make us dislike it.

      Also, I find Dimitri to be attractive, but he has the build of a much older dude. He doesn’t have that chiseled fighter’s body.

      I’m glad your husband liked it–it’s so much more fun to see movies like this when your date is on board.

  35. Melliane

    I haven’t watch it I confess it won”t be out until March in France but I’m still curious. They speak a lot about it here but well we’ll see. And I think as you say that it will be a little difficult but I think I’ll see it only to see how they did it. But I’ll maybe not go to the theater for it if it’s like that. Will wait a little more.
    Melliane recently posted…Waterlocked by Elizabeth Hunter

    • Kate Bond

      Oh, I wonder how the jokes will translate into french subtitles! Several of them are about the region of the United States where the school is and stuff like that. Hmmmm.

      • Melliane

        yes it’s always difficult to do things like that, mainly as we translate everything here, et it’s rare to have movies with subtitles, it’s directly in French. But I”m curious to see what they did.

        • Kate Bond

          Oh, really? I’ve seen several american movies with french subtitles in Paris, so I’d assumed that was the norm. I must have gone to theaters in areas with a lot of english-speaking tourists.

          Regardless, I’m pretty curious how it translates.

          • Melliane

            Paris is a big coty, so it’s easier to find some like that, usually, it’s one movie with subtitles in the whole theater for the other cities, the rest is in French and some only do French.

  36. K.

    This is so sad to hear, although I could’ve already guessed it was going to be bad based on the trailers. The previews were enough to convince me that this was going to be a cheap attempt at an adaptation. Even though I’m not a huge fan of the series myself, I did read them (okay fine, I skimmed the third or fourth book…okay fine, I also skimmed the last book) BUT I do know that there was substance and depth in them. I’m always disappointed when studios water them down or make them into some kind of circus act — only there to entertain kind of thing.

    I have hopes for Divergent and The Fault in the Stars (though I haven’t read it yet). Oh and The Spectacular Now was pretty good…also starring Shailene Woodley.

    • Kate Bond

      I definitely liked the first two or three books best, but I love the series in general. They REALLY crammed the plot into the movie. Such a bummer.

      I don’t like the Divergent series at all (I didn’t even read the last book), but I’m pretty excited about the movie. The Fault in Our Stars was really good, but it felt emotionally manipulative in a Nicholas Sparks-y way, so I don’t know how I’m going to feel about the movie. I REALLY like the actors who are in it, though, based on the trailer.

  37. Karina Romano

    I saw the movie this past Saturday and my biggest complaint was that the scenes were going way too fast. It felt like they tried to cram everything into the screen with a very limited time. I actually thought the movie was funny but I think the books have a more series tone which I would have preferred to have seen on screen. The actors/actresses were actually good for me except for Mia; she wasn’t mean enough for me. Then the attic scenes is one of my favorite scenes and they ruined it like the part where Rose hugs Christian. They are more friendly in the movies when they didn’t like each other at first in the books.

    I honestly am hoping that they can make a second movie and can turn things around like they did with Catching Fire; that movie was surprisingly a big improvement from the first film.
    Karina Romano recently posted…SCINTILLATE Blog Tour

    • Kate Bond

      Oh, I agree about Catching Fire being way better than the first movie. Way, way, way better. The latter Harry Potter movies were a big improvement on the first couple, too, I think. And Twilight Breaking Dawn.

      I don’t know if the big stuff that happens with Rose and Dimitri can work on camera with these actors, though, you know? They don’t really have the right chemistry. I’d love for them to prove me wrong, though.

      I cannot wrap my mind around why they would stick so close to the plot of the books, cramming it in at a breakneck pace, while changing the characters and the emotional tone so much. Successful adaptations tend to keep the tone and stray from the plot details. Sigh.

    • Wendy Darling

      So fast–it’s like they were racing against the clock in every single scene! I may not have minded the humor so much if it hadn’t been like the only tone of the movie, as you said, the books are much more serious and I wish the film hadn’t made the story and emotions seem so silly.

      I think they might’ve fast-forwarded the Rose/Christian softening thing for the sake of the first movie to move things along? It’s interesting that that’s one of the few changes they made, though.

      Agreed on Catching Fire being a much better film than THG. A lot of that is due to the director.

  38. zara

    I haven’t seen the movie so I can’t speak about the quality, or lack thereof. however, I’m absolutely insulted that hollywood thought this movie was fit for a theatrical release. it looks like it belongs on lifetime channel–or a straight to DVD release at best. If these Hollywood hotshots are making a movie for individuals with actual brain cells and not zombies, then they should at least put some minimal efforts into it. when I saw the stills, I couldn’t get over how low rent everything looked and the cast was basically full of bland faces. everything from the castings, to the costumes screams that they were trying to take the cheapest route possible.

    the more I think about it, the more I realize that the producers and weinstein were trying to half-ass their way through this. When weinstein saw that they won’t get a hit, they abandoned ship. which is not surprising because studios always do this when things don’t go according to the plan. however, with weinstein, it was so obvious when they moved up the release date two weeks prior to the original release, abruptly cancelled midnight showings, didn’t screen it for critics, and then told press people that they weren’t allowed to review the film because it “wasn’t finished”(that happened less than two weeks before release.) this movie was always destined to fail, but I think people were turned off after all this chaos.

    then things became even more comedic when daniel waters took to facebook to say that the movie was a mistake. Which ended with the producer trying to save face by giving fans a motivational speech. I’m so flabbergasted by the disastrous mess caused by the team responsible for this movie, and I’m still shaking my head. it was pitiful but I bet it was more entertaining than the movie itself.

    • Wendy Darling

      I think it’s pretty insulting that a movie this bad was turned out, too. I couldn’t believe how awful it was, especially with such a great series to work with. I would agree that this was the quality of a straight to DVD release. Contractual obligations probably meant that it needed to see a theatrical release, however briefly, though.

      I worked in film for a long time, and I have to say that while I am extremely disappointed with the artistic choices made for this property, I understand what seemed to be efforts to mitigate the damage as well. Once the movie is made, there’s not much you can do about it short of costly reshoots, and editing it could have only saved so much. If I were in their shoes, I most likely would have done the same thing. But you’re right, the “chaos,” as you put it, doesn’t help.

      I totally missed the Daniel Waters thing, though. 0.O I should look that up, right? Or will it make me irritated? Hah.

      • Kate Bond


        “For instance there is a speech in the teaser that Lissa gives, and it’s not strictly in the book. But it is kind of a companion piece to being in the book where the queen humiliates Lissa. And that actual speech, trust, I swear to God you guys are going to like it! But the way it’s cut into that teaser and it’s like, “And blood is death!” Then everyone starts cheering at “blood is death” and I am like what is going on? They are going to think, “okay, let’s all be humans now.” It’s very misinterpreted, and it is just marketing. Please feel free to ask about anything in the teaser, so I can clear the air and save my soul. Un-crucify myself! My motto is, “you can come drag me and my brother out on the street and pour gasoline on us and light a match if you don’t like the movie, but don’t do it yet, off a one minute teaser.” Please, let us live to finish editing.”


        • Wendy Darling

          Oh, UGH. That whole interview made me cringe. He seems like a nice guy, but this reaffirms for me that he was not the best choice to adapt this story. There’s a lot focus on things that don’t really matter, and a lot of pride in stuff that sets my teeth on edge. Maybe he read too many Tumblrs and allowed the fan pressure to get to him too much.

          I am making an AWFUL face right now.

        • Kate Bond

          Oh, also, Zara:

          I have mixed feelings bout the budget here. It’s not a property that could ever possibly command a HUGE budget, because it’s not the type of thing that is likely to earn very much, so I understand why they weren’t allotted a ton. And what ends up happening is that we, the fans, bitch and moan to get movies of our favorite books made, and then for whatever reason–sometimes just because going to the theater is EXPENSIVE–we don’t show up to support the movie we’ve been clamoring for.

          Frankly, if the script and the chemistry of the cast had been better, Wendy and I probably wouldn’t have cared about any of the other stuff. They really failed here before they even went into production.

          And, boy, do I ever hate when studios pull the rug out from under their movies by fussing with release dates and shit. I don’t think we can necessarily blame “hollywood” in general here–my husband and I, for example, both work in Hollywood, and we had nothing to do with what happened to this movie–but I understand and share your frustration.

  39. Jessica Cooley

    Sigh. Yes. Yes to it all. I’m bummed they are destroying YA book-into-movies. This was such a sad showing and not only did I feel bad for Mead, I was embarrassed for her. What can she say? Nothing she really feels for a few years at least…I was so uncomfortable with the romance. At first I thought it was because Danila Kozlovsky was a bad choice but I’m not so sure anymore. Have you seen other photos of him? He’s leaner and less…old and bulky looking. While I think Zoey was a horrible choice, he could have been good if they had not bulked him out so much. There was a strange, old look to him that it’s in his other photos.

    I hoped they would at least make a good movie, even if it strayed from the film but they didn’t. It makes me worry about YA book to film futures. I wasn’t going to see Divergent in theaters in protest to how Roth destroyed the series with the final book (no, I’m not just talking about the elephant in the room moment, it was all the moments) but I might have to go just to support YA film movies.
    Jessica Cooley recently posted…Lost Lake: Book Review

    • Wendy Darling

      There’s nothing much she can say. I absolutely understand why she’s been pointing out that some fans have felt the film stayed true to the books (and they do plot-wise, quite slavishly–but it’s staying true to the characters that is more important), it makes sense for her to do what she can to help the movie. Not only in a practical sense, but also because she seems like a really lovely person who wants the film to succeed for the filmmakers as well.

      I had not seen any photos of Danila until you mentioned it, but I just googled. Where was this guy?


      He looks great! And not bulky/doughy like you and Kate said. I think he’s got such a great face, but Dimitri is so specifically such a badass physically that the way the actor was in the film was really not great. I don’t understand why he wasn’t leaner/more muscled for this role. I feel bad about saying this, but you’re right about the “strange, old” look. It made the pairing with Zoey so off-putting. But between the two of them, I’d rather have kept him than her, with some tinkering.

      I really have to read ALLEGIANT soon so I can figure out what you’re talking about! I know about the elephant (yeah, I spoiled myself before it happened accidentally), but I don’t know the specifics of what you’re talking about. I guess I should try to make that happen before the film comes out.

      • zara

        Danila is so, so, so attractive. I know people like it when the actor matches the character’s physical descriptions, but I wish they left him alone! the hair and costume just did not suit him. plus the lack of command on the english language hindered his performance, he is one of the best actors in russia right now but he is so bland in this movie.

        the rose and dimitri romance just made me feel uncomfortable. was it because the actors have a significant age gap or because dimitri looks old enough to be her uncle? I heard zoey and him did not do a chemistry test, maybe that’s where the problem was.

        • Wendy Darling

          Apparently the should have left him well enough alone, he looks a lot better in those other photos. Are there other projects he’s in that are available to watch here in the States? I don’t think I’ve heard of any of the ones I saw on his IMDB profile. You’re the first person who has any knowledge of him outside of VA that I know of.

          I know Dimitri has long hair and all, but yeah, I’d rather they cut it than leave it if it wasn’t working, too. And it’s all of it, it’s the age difference and the older appearance and the mismatch in their builds and the lack of chemistry. Such a shame.

            • Wendy Darling

              Oh yeah, I think he was being facetious and sort of going “oh, well.” Maybe not the most tactful thing, but I don’t think he was being too nuts about it. The fan reactions, though–yeah, pretty extreme. Sort of typical over the top responses. And a lot of flattery going on too, hah. Sorry, that sort of thing always kind of makes me laugh.

      • Jessica Cooley

        YES! “Doughy” is the perfect word! It escaped me until I read that. Yes, he looked like he was wrapped in a suit of yeast. ^_^

        You really do have to read Allegiant…just don’t have high expectations. I like Roth’s writing and enjoyed the world. This wasn’t a concluding book in a trilogy though, it was…ugh.
        Jessica Cooley recently posted…The disaster of Vampire Academy: The Movie

    • Kate Bond

      Jessica, I didn’t read the final book in the Divergent series because all the religious and anti-intellectual stuff in the first two books made me VERY uncomfortable. I am interested in seeing the movie, though. It, at least, got a proper freaking budget.

      And I was excited about Danila heading into the movie because of the photos I’d seen of him online. I’m not bothered by big age differences–my husband is 12 years older than me and I met him when I was 22, and the guy I dated before him was 19 years my senior–but Danila FELT old. And he kind of moved like an old dude–like his back bothered him or something.

      • Wendy Darling

        It’s true, age difference in and of itself doesn’t mean much. But here it was just so uncomfortable combined with all those other things, and we haven’t even talked about the fact that there’s that taboo teacher/student scenario. That’s addressed in the books but only touched on at the end of the movie.

        Also, the age difference is very different when you’re 16 versus an adult. Danila did feel old, though. I snorted at your “back bothering him” thing, hee hee. He looks so young and dynamic in those two photos I linked to, though!

        • Kate Bond

          I know, Wendy. I know. I saw those photos back when he was cast, and I thought he looked PERFECT.

          And I agree that the book handled the teacher/student thing much better–it handled the weird way Dimitri dresses and his dumb ponytail better, too.

          Remember how creepy it was in the movie when he told Rose not to cut her hair? I was like, “Oh, you need to arrest him now.”

          • Wendy Darling

            Hah hah hah. I FORGOT THAT PART. That’s so sexy in the books, but so creepy in the film. Also, I’ve figured out who Danila-as-Dimitri’s speaking voice reminds me of. He sounds a lot like Antonio-Banderas-as-cartoon-cat with that accent.

      • Jessica Cooley

        Kate, I know exactly what you mean about the Divergent series and anti-intellectualism. It’s interesting because Roth has addressed that recently, admitting that she didn’t give that group a fair chance and that she was responding to her feelings about her college experience. It was unsettling that it was so anti-intellectual though. Some of the Erudite do help in the second book and the whole thing goes to hell in the third book.

        My husband is seven years older than I and I’ve typically dated older people as well so I thought I would be fine too. You’re right though, Danila did feel old – hehe, sometimes it he was so still his back might have been hurting him.
        Jessica Cooley recently posted…Eleanor & Park: Book Review

  40. Larissa

    Wonderful insights! I haven’t seen the movie (and honestly, don’t want to) however my friends have. They haven’t read the books, and the sad thing is they probably won’t since the book elicited such a negative reaction from them. Which is actually so sad, because the books are amazing and to deserve a chance. It’s really a shame that the movie nowhere near gives it justice. It’s also sad that some movie directors/producers will see this movie and not want to adapt YA books. Or even worse, do it to the same standards as this movie since they’ll at least get the fanbase involved. Which of course will result in more poorly done movies and furthering of the stigma that YA isn’t a genre of quality.

    Like you mentioned, I really hope that future YA adaptations will consider the source material, while making sure to incorporate things that will make it enjoyable for the general public. Also good writing is a must, I feel like this is the point where the VA movie definitely didn’t work
    Larissa recently posted…Review: Grim (by Multiple Authors)

    • Wendy Darling

      Oh, see? We were just worrying about this a few comments below you, that people turned off by the movie wouldn’t want to read the books! That is such a shame. :( The books are so, so good, and I agree, if people see this and think that this is what is represented in YA books, there’s a chance they won’t option more novels as well. It’s all a vicious cycle, which should have just been avoided with MAKE A GOOD FILM. And agreed, it usually starts with a good script.

  41. Kelly

    It’s funny, because I agree with EVERYTHING you both said, but I somehow found myself enjoying this adaptation anyways. I think that it crossed into “being so bad it’s good” territory and I found myself laughing because of? in spite of? the cheesiness of it all.

    After the movie, my friend asked to borrow the book and the first thing he commented on was how Dimitri was not well represented by the actor they chose. I think if they had really nailed casting, and slowed down…everything, it could have gone much better.

    Where were the people who screen tested this to tell them that it needed work??
    Kelly recently posted…Top Ten Books That Will Make You Swoon

    • Wendy Darling

      Hah! That’s how it happens sometimes, I’ve felt exactly the same way when I’ve liked certain books that my friends didn’t, too. :) This one didn’t make it into the “so bad it’s enjoyable” category for me, but I’m glad you enjoyed it, sincerely.

      Better casting definitely would have helped, though. I feel bad for Danila, I hope this doesn’t ruin his chances elsewhere. And yeah, SLOW THE HELL DOWN. Sheesh.

      • Kate Bond

        Man, this movie moved sosososos fast. And Danila’s accent–yikes!

        This wasn’t “so bad it’s good” for me because I love the source material too much. Does that make sense? I kind of just felt betrayed.

  42. Jen @ YA Romantics

    I just scanned this really fast. I still haven’t seen the movie but Flyleaf Heather said you’d mentioned Dmitri’s duster!!!! I was hoping that the answer to “What Went Wrong?” would only be the duster, but given the amount of scrolling I had to do, guessing that is not the case.

    I did read what you said at the bottom and I agree 1000%. I think the mistake that a lot of these movies make is that they cater to the fandom by trying to be absolutely true to every complicated detail of the book, instead of adapting the book in a way that makes sense. There was an interesting article in Forbes that argued that the best YA movie to book adaptations were the books that can be explained in a single high-concept sentence, and the writer argued that Divergent could not. I guess we’ll see. I think that TFIOS IS high-concept, and I have high hopes for that one.
    Jen @ YA Romantics recently posted…Hot Off the Presses: New YA Releasing February 11-17

    • Wendy Darling

      Hah, no. If the only thing that was wrong with this film was Dimitri’s duster, it would be so much easier. We could use his duster as a symbol of everything that is wrong with the film, though–if you can’t get that iconic detail right (it’s probably the most clearly identifiable object in this whole series, right?) or do it justice, the rest of it probably isn’t going to be very good.

      YES. Stop trying to cram everything into the film! It’s a different medium, and pacing and tension and character arcs all have to be handled differently than in the books. It’s astonishing how many adaptations fail to see that. I also didn’t understand some of the changes they did make, though. Like that “If I allow myself to love you” moment is moved to a different time/place than it is in the books, I believe, and there doesn’t appear to be any reason for it. Except that the ending scenes are really cheesy. Bleh.

      I’m hopeful that DIVERGENT will be entertaining, too. The trailer looks like they’ve taken the right approach.

      • Kate Bond

        Jen, Hart Hanson, the creator of the TV series Bones, says that if an old southern lady can’t describe your show or movie in one sentence (“It’s the show about the lady who solves crimes looking at bones”), it won’t be successful. TFIOS is about two teenagers with cancer who fall in love. It’ll be fine.

        Divergent is super complicated, though. Huh. My fingers are still crossed.

        And you really called it on the duster (did you see our shout-out to you?). Ugh. That stupid ugly coat.

        • Wendy Darling

          Oh YEAH, I couldn’t remember who said this thing about the elevator speech. I can do VA easily, though:

          Young girl who’s the guardian of her friend, the royal vampire princess, must uncover the conspiracy at her school while fighting her attraction to her mentor.


  43. Heather@The Flyleaf Review

    GOD this is such a bloody good post. THANK YOU Kate and Wendy for taking the time to write such a well thought out critique and I for one would welcome more of this in the future. I’m not going to write an essay here in the comments but I will say that other than the Harry Potter films and Catching Fire (which I think is SO much stronger than THG), I am wholly unimpressed with YA/MG book to film adaptations. Even the Twilight movies wore on me–and to this day I’ve still never seen the final two. Maybe I’m just too hard to please but there is nothing that bothers me more then when a fabulous story gets completely destroyed after being translated into a high budget, heavy on the CGI, lite on the acting skills film adaptation. And I think the worst part is that there are so many people who will go watch these piss poor imitations and think THAT is what the book read like. As you said, there is already a stigma for adults who read YA and these crappy films being made from some of the best YA books out there is not helping me when I’m trying to explain how compelling and smart and thought provoking most young adult lit is.

    In regards to this movie, I had a bad feeling when I saw the commercials and trailers trying to play up the humor and snarky banter. That is a part of this series but it’s by no means the focus of it. The VA books are dark and they are a wonderful testament to the power of friendship. They are also sexy as hell what a dsappointment that Danila didn’t work out. I had such high hopes for him. But yeah–I see where his pairing with Zoey D. might be unsettling. And man– I can’t believe they went and screwed up the love charm scene. Grrrr. Oh, and THANK YOU for mentioning Lissa’s mouth because every shot I see of her looks like she had some kind of plastic surgery gone horribly wrong. Glad to hear that that is not what that poor girl’s mouth actually looks like–yeesh.

    I would have loved to have seen this movie with you two–I can only imagine the horror and the fun you both had with it. I doubt I’ll waste my cash and see it but maybe you both will do this again for Divergent and The Fault In Our Stars?? Divergent I’m worried about–I fear it’s going to be more of the same–but I’m hoping that TFiOS will go the route of The Perks of Being a Wallflower–which I have yet to see but hear is a truly wonderful adaptation.

    Oh look, I did write an essay :) Nice job ladies!
    Heather@The Flyleaf Review recently posted…Bring on the Swoooon….My Top Ten-ish favorite Swoony Books

    • Wendy Darling

      It was actually fun for us to do this, so yeah, it’d be great if we could do this for DIVERGENT! Although I don’t remember the story as clearly (I only read it once), so that probably wouldn’t be anywhere near as detailed. I’m not sure I’ll see TFIOS, though. I haven’t read the book yet and I’m a little mixed on the trailer.

      I absolutely agree that CATCHING FIRE was a much stronger film than THG, too. I was just talking to Vivien and Karen right below you about how terrible it is that some people will go into this movie and leave without any desire to read the books, which is the absolute WORST possible outcome for these adaptations. I wonder if the people who want us to champion these projects regardless of their merit ever think of that.

      I also think that your comment about the tone really is the biggest problem with the film. VA actually has a pretty serious tone throughout most of the narrative, and they are SO dark in the last few books. Yes, Rose’s POV is sarcastic and snarky and hilarious (and Adrian adds that wonderful lightness when he arrives on the scene), but overall the tone is much more grave and filled with danger, which is unusual for YA. You never get a sense of that at all in the film.

      Omg, I whispered to Kate as soon as we left the theater that I couldn’t stand how smeary Lissa’s lip gloss looked all the time. I don’t think the camera angles helped them at all either, it was terribly close up and unflattering. Pull back every once in awhile, jeez.

      Thank you for the amazing discussion, Heather! It would be so much fun to see a film with you. Hey, Kate goes to Florida sometimes to visit family, so maybe you two could make it happen at least. I’ve seen your lovely Instagram photos, your neck of the woods looks like a lovely place to visit.

      • Kate Bond

        HEATHER! There is a VERY good chance that I will be in Florida visiting family when TFIOS comes out–if I am, let’s go together!

        I might need to re-read (or at least Recaptain) Divergent before we do this for that movie, but I think we totally should go together and do a post about it. Maybe I can drag Mr. Bond along next time to get confused with Mr. Darling.

        I think the Breaking Dawn books are the strongest movies of the series, Heather–especially part 2–which is funny because I laughed all the way through that book. There’s an AWESOME scene toward the end of part 2, and then you also get to laugh about how long people spend walking across fields.

        • Wendy Darling

          Yeah, a skimming may be in order before we see Tris and Four on the big screen. (What’s the dude’s real name again? Something non-dreamy and very practical.) It’d be so fun to go together. The menfolk can do their own snickering in the corner.

          Did you see the news that broke tonight, though? They’ve hired a different director to helm the sequel, the guy who did R.I.P.D. and (weirdly) The Time Traveler’s Wife. Aside from being an interesting choice, I’m a little nervous about what this could mean about the first film, especially given that it’s announced before they see how the movie does. If the first director is departing already that could mean the first set wasn’t all that smooth, and sometimes that can mean really bad things for the end result. I won’t spread that around too much, though, given how alarmist the speculation is around Twitter and all. We’ll just have to see.

          I’ll have you know that Mr. Darling LOVES those Twilight movies. They are the exact right kind of “so bad it’s insanely entertaining” for us. If we ever get one of those wolf-type dogs, he wants to name it Jacob.

          • Kate Bond

            Tobias. Like fucking David Cross in Arrested Development. It’s a hideous name. “Four” is a mad-sexy name, though, in my opinion.

            Wendy, why would they do that, PR-wise? Can you see any benefit to making an announcement before the first film is released? I hope it’s not because the first one isn’t good and they want to get ahead of the criticism.

            I LOVE the Twilight movies. My favorite is when the sexy boys turn into wolves and then have TERRIBLE echo-y voiceover conversations in their heads.

            • Wendy Darling

              It looks like the original director Neil Burger announced recently (WHY?) that he wouldn’t be done with post in time to start the sequel, and Shailene Woodley said she was shocked about this at Sundance. So the studio’s announcement was probably just an effort to do pre-emptive damage control for the likes of you and me who start worrying about these things.

              Also, Summit did hire different directors for all the Twilight films, so they could just be making it clear that they’re not tied to any one director, something aimed at perhaps both audiences who are wondering and at any future salary wrangling negotiators. Sometimes it’s just the PR for a parting of ways over whatever issue, though–timing seems very strange. And worth noting that Francis
              Lawrence managed to do CATCHING FIRE and was signed on for both MOCKINGJAY sequels without any “scheduling” issues.

              Other thoughts which I will say to you in person sometime. :P

                • Heather@The Flyleaf Review

                  Kate, I am totally totally down with meeting up when you are in FL! Email or tweet me when you know more details and let’s do this!;)

                  I probably will watch BD 1& 2 at some point. It was my least fave bk in the series and my enthusiasm for the films began to wane, probably due to the length of time between releases. But one day I’ll finish that up:)

                  Oh and I never finished the Divergent series either. Loved the 1st bk, the 2nd was meh, and when I started he hearing THE RUMORS about Allegiant I decided to bow out. I’ll try to remember it as it was in bk 1. Ignorance is bliss;)
                  Heather@The Flyleaf Review recently posted…Waiting On….Six Feet Over It by Jennifer Longo and Sisters’ Fate by Jessica Spotswood

                  • Kate Bond


                    Yeah, I liked Divergent enough to read the second book, but the series really headed in the opposite direction of where I wanted it to in book 2.

          • zara

            the scheduling conflict doesn’t sound like a PR spin because summit is aiming to start filming insurgent in may if divergent is a success. they are doing pre-production work on insurgent while neil burger is in the final stages of editing divergent. it really does sound like a scheduling conflict.

            everyone including me are alarmed because summit is pushing this so hard. not only did they announce the director for the sequel before the first one is even out, but the new director has only made bad films.

            The general audience are not impressed with divergent so far and this choice of director made them even more skeptical’
            why is summit rushing this? why did they announce the director before release? why did they pick such an awful director? does that mean something is wrong with divergent? is that why no good director wanted to helm the sequel?

            the fandom is happy but film critics and box office analysts are amused–and not in a good way.

            announcing the director may have been a PR move, but it backfired solely because this director doesn’t produce good work!

            what are your thoughts?

  44. Vivien

    Warning: This may be ranty lol

    This is terrible news, and yet doesn’t surprise me. When I saw the trailer I just knew that they would probably butcher the movie. And I agree, this is one of the best YA series out there. There is SO much material that it’s truly horrifying that they couldn’t get it right. We definitely deserve better as fans! I’m truly bothered by the notion that just because I don’t like a movie (granted I haven’t seen this, but this isn’t the first YA book adaptation that I’ve watched and didn’t like) I don’t support the author/industry whatever. If I didn’t like the book, I honestly probably wouldn’t bother with the movie, unless I hear it’s amazing. So to say that people are trashing it is just ludicrous. Just because I like the book, doesn’t guarantee that I’ll enjoy the movie. We don’t have to be a fan of everything. I support book adaptations. There have been great ones. I don’t support rushed, terribly executed movies in general. We’re spending money on these things. I would be thrilled if I did enjoy everything I spent my money on! I also find it ridiculous that I have to support the movie at all costs. No. The problem with poorly executed adaptations, is that it makes those that haven’t read the books not WANT TO! That’s the real issue, in my opinion.

    I absolutely loathe it when music is overused in movies/tv. I found that while watching some UK TV show/movies that this is not the case. IE: I watched both the US and UK versions of Kitchen Nightmares. In the UK version, it’s much quieter. With the US version, (and maybe this is a Fox thing) but every empty space was filled with either that annoying voice over or obnoxious music. Can’t we have silence without feeling the need to fill everything void? Since I’ve noticed this with movies as well (without examples), it seems impossible. It’s such a pet peeve of mine, because usually the music is the loudest bit. (And the fact that it’s pop music :cringe:)

    Really, after reading this, I have no desire to even try to watch this movie. Honestly, I hate watching bad movies more than I do reading bad books. And everything you described are things that I think I would absolutely hate about this as well. The clothes, the characters, makeup, cgi, the screen play….it all sounds horrendous. I had a feeling when they announced the cast list. And now with the reviews, I just shake my head. I feel bad for Richelle, because she deserves better as an author. This is the reason that I wouldn’t want my novel to be optioned/ and made if I were an author.

    Side note: I was never a fans of the covers for the VA. I honestly didn’t read the series at first because of this. (I know, terrible me. I have since learned my error with basing my judgments on book covers. This was also YEARS ago) I wonder if the executives got the wrong impression about the feel of this series. Because it sounds like they were completely off.

    Second side note: If the author were to write the screen play, would the movie turn out better? Suzanne Collins did a really good job with THG. I also heard that Gillian Flynn wrote the screen play for Gone Girl (I know it’s not YA). It’ll be interesting to see how Gone Girl turns out, especially since she rewrote the last third of the screen play. (I am truly anxious for this because GG is one of my FAVORITES)

    More than likely, I’ll just go re-read the VA rather than watch the movie.

    • Wendy Darling

      Hey, join in on the ranting! Heh. I fell really bad for Richelle Mead, too. The books deserve so much better, and she has always been so gracious as an author that she definitely deserves better, too. I refuse to endorse something that butchered her books so badly, though. (Even though I agree, those covers are so cheesy and awful. Her adult series covers are pretty terrible, too.) It is just not in me to urge people should spend their hard-earned dollars on something I think misses the mark so much.

      The tone of overseas movies and shows are so different from ours. I’ve been watching a lot of overseas TV lately, too, and I know when The Returned and The Fall and other such shows are remade here, they’re going to be SO obvious with their insistent soundtracks and endless slow-motion montages and quick cuts. Let stuff breathe and let us think and feel, for heaven’s sake.

      I think a certain amount of creative input can make a difference in a movie, sure. Although for me, the first Hunger Games film (with SC’s collaboration) left out the defining moment in the book: the gift from Rue’s district. I cry every time I read that part, and it’s such an important one in the story! To me, it was the moment when everything changed for Katniss in the Games it in became not just about survival, but about living for something bigger than herself, too. And the beauty of that humble gift, and all that it acknowledges about human connection and gratitude–it just kills me every time, and I’m still so angry that they couldn’t take an extra minute to leave that in the film. GAH.

      And YES, that is such a good point. If we embrace these terrible films, it just further stigmatizes the YA genre, and it makes non-believers dismiss YA books even more. I would NEVER pick up these books if I had only seen the film first–omg. It’s terrible to think that some people might never know how awesome these books are because they were turned off by the movie. I’m so glad you’re such a huge fan of VA too, btw! I’m always surprised when friends tell me they’re not.

      It is really upsetting to me when I hear authors and other fans implying that readers aren’t doing enough to support their work. No one owes any sort of support at all, to begin with–and I keep saying this over and over, but I think that book bloggers are so passionate and well read and intelligent and savvy that the YA community has gotten really spoiled. There is NO other industry where the fans get together and pour this much time and passion and dollars into expressing their love. Something as simple as a humble book review, for example–even without an interview, even without a giveaway, even without any of the bells and whistles that you do for these things, you’ll notice that most bloggers do things like include purchase links, author websites, publishing dates, etc. And so many blogs are so professionally put together, often with a very real understanding of how this market works and how they can best help get the word out about the books they love. Movie fans, art fans, video game fans–NO OTHER FANS show this type of quality and care for the subjects they write about. And it is outrageous that there so often an implication that YA book fans aren’t doing enough.

    • Kate Bond

      I completely agree with your rant. Grrrr.

      I thought the Twilight movies had really great, subtle needle drop, and directors like Quintin Tarantino use it really well, too, but it can go SO WRONG. Vampire Academy had songs that were really popular over a year ago. WHY. WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY.

      And I wish I knew less than I do about this, but: The people whose names are on a screenplay are not the only people who wrote them. Usually at least 2 or 3 writers do drafts (frequently, they’ll hire a cheap writer for that first, basic draft, and then hire fancy writers as script doctors to come in and fix it or give notes). When a lot of people are interested in acquiring a property, novelists can get it built into their contracts that THEY get to be the person to write the first draft, because WOW is there a lot more money in it for them that way, but there were at least three writers on Hunger Games (a lot of big action movies have upwards of TEN uncredited writers), and the writing credits were determined in arbitration at the writer’s guild, based on how much new material they contributed (this is standard procedure for all movies). So I don’t know that the book’s author can really do THAT much to help–it’s just completely out of her hands once she sells it. Which is a bummer, but I guess it’s just how it has to be. As a producer, I don’t think I would ever acquire the rights to a novel if the author insisted on writing the first draft. It’s just a completely different style of writing.

      I hated–HATED–Gone Girl. Almost all of my real life friends loved it, so I tried to read it three times, and then listened to part of it on audiobook, and finally decided I would keep reading unless the big twist that I thought was coming actually happened. And it did. SO I never finished it. BUT I fucking love David Fincher, and I trust his instincts as a storyteller, so I will probably go see the movie.

      • Wendy Darling

        Such a good point regarding credits on screenplays and such. So true, and sometimes the credit is just a courtesy/lip service as well.

        A JK Rowling or a Suzanne Collins has a lot more clout to ask for consultancy on these films than a typical writer as well. They’ll also want to please those authors more, knowing how much their endorsement would benefit the films. For a non-stratospheric author, it’s nice if the support is there, but honestly it doesn’t matter much as long as they’re not out badmouthing the film. I’ve worked on a few movies where we’ve had to coach the original book authors pretty carefully.

  45. Karen

    I’m not a huge fan of the books but all kinds of red flags went up for me when the directors kept getting excited about the Mean Girls angle. That’s fine – I love my snark but this a very rich world to develop – it’s not Mean Girls.

    Then I saw the trailer – it looked like a vampire parody film. My husband (who likes almost everything – he even liked Beautiful Creatures) had no clue what it was even supposed to be about.

    But whatever – everyone has their own tastes and I’m sure a lot of fans loved the film as well. I have read quite a few favorable reviews from both fans and non fans of the series.


    I really hated the online pressure to like and support this film or else. If you voice dislike or don’t go see the movie, you don’t support female characters. You don’t support YA. You don’t support the author.

    The issue of female representation in film is a whole other matter. As well as critics who write their derogatory opinions because of the fan base – it’s a “girl movie therefore dumb” etc. That is a valid complaint (& p*sses me off) but there is no way I’m going to go see a bad movie or not say what I think just because it’s YA.

    You’re right – it must expand beyond the fan base. We’re all excited to see these characters and stories coming to life but a majority of movie goers have no idea what it’s about. They’re just looking for a movie to go to for the weekend. They aren’t dissing anyone. They just didn’t want to see/didn’t like the movie.
    Karen recently posted…Heartbreakers Blog Tour: Day 3 – Janet Gurtler & Christine Duval

    • Wendy Darling

      I think the Mean Girls vibe could have worked if they had also spent time on the kickassery and the relationships. They went so campy and juvenile, though, that it just really alienated us. Have they noticed that teen movies that are really great appeal to all ages? Clueless, Mean Girls, etc are still popular because they spoke to teenagers and tweens and adults.

      I’ve seen positive reactions to the movie, too–it’s just like anything, it’s all a matter of taste. The numbers were definitely not there, though, so something is turning people off before they even got to the theaters. It’s funny that your husband couldn’t even tell what it was about from the trailer, calling it a “vampire parody film” is spot on.

      And yeah, I really wanted to address the pressure to support this thing. Some of the comments I saw made me pretty furious, actually–does the same rule apply, like if Steven Spielberg writes a crappy book, should I support him by spending $30 to buy his book and then also keep my mouth shut about its awfulness? The entitlement in this community sometimes makes absolutely no sense to me. I get it if you’re an actual friend of the author’s who wants to put in a show of support (or even a colleague as a professional courtesy), but the judgmental “people are RUINING OUR CHANCES TO HAVE MORE YA MOVIES” reactions are ridiculous. And misguided. I “support” the books I want to, but I don’t have to do any of it. And implying I’m wrong and being unsupportive and should shut up about a movie I didn’t like, basically, is pretty gross.

  46. julie@my5monkeys

    I wanted to see this movie because I had finally read the series. I thought the trailers were making it campy. I was wondered about the age difference would work out :( oh well waits for DVD or even cable to see this movie. I loved all of your suggestions for remaking it ..heck they redo this over again, they have done it to Batman, superman.
    julie@my5monkeys recently posted…Road Rash

    • Wendy Darling

      The age difference is admittedly hard–but other movie adaptations fudge on the number of years between characters (or the actual age of the characters, like THE GIVER), so I still think it could have been done better. And if they’d had any chemistry or were more well-matched physically (maybe a slightly taller, more physically strong-looking Rose?) it would have been a lot more convincing.

      I’m glad you finally read the books, though! DVD is probably best.

      • Kate Bond

        Yeah, Dimitri’s size wouldn’t have been as much of a problem if Rose had been less delicate-looking. Ah, well.

    • Wendy Darling

      Thanks! And yessss, please please give the Vampire Academy books a try sometime. Ignore the cheesy covers, the content is AMAZING.

  47. Nadia

    Awe :(

    I didn’t read the entire review because I still haven’t seen the movie and I don’t want to be “spoiled”. I have no idea when it premieres here UGH.

    It makes me sad that the movie bombed, I WAS SO FREAKING EXCITED ABOUT IT (I still am), I really wanted the sequels. Sigh.

    Before watching it, were you happy with the cast ? Because from the trailers/interviews/promos, I’m REALLY happy with the actors, but after reading your review I feel a bit skeptical.

    • Wendy Darling

      Oh good, it’s definitely better to go into these things with an open mind if you can. Try not to worry, could be that you’ll enjoy this more than we did.

      I didn’t really have an opinion one way or the next about the cast going into it, Nadia. Whe I saw the early photos and trailers, I didn’t think any of them really fit the picture I had in my head, but that’s often the case and I went in prepared to like them if they captured the essence of the characters. I’m sad that that’s not what happened, but again–some people have really liked Rose, so you never know. Are you seeing it soon? You’d better hurry if you plan to, hah.

      • Kate Bond

        I was fine with the cast in the trailers. I was a little worried about how both Rose and Dimitri looked–she’s a bit too petite and delicate, and he’s really big and looks old and NO NO WHY HAIR–but nothing seemed too problematic. I was wrong.

        • Nadia

          It does look a bit odd because she’s SO SMALL. But so far, I like it.

          But anyway, thank you for your honest review girls! :)

      • Nadia

        Yeah, I’m counting on everyone having different taste, so maybe I’d end up enjoying it more!

        So far, I reallyreally like Zoey as Rose, so we’ll see.

        I’m planning on seeing it the minute it premieres here (I live in the Caribbean), which I still have no idea when that will be -.-

  48. Mary @ BookSwarm

    Now you’ve made me simultaneously cringe away and want to go see it! I’m sorry it hit so many bad points for you and I can completely see where you’re coming from. I felt the same way with Dangerous Creatures — it was just so bad. I really want these YA adaptations to succeed but they’re just NOT (aside from Hunger Games & HP and, well, Twilight, though the CGI in there was also laughably bad). I have high hopes for Divergent. *fingers crossed*
    Mary @ BookSwarm recently posted…Top Off Tuesday: Pirate in a kilt

    • Wendy Darling

      Well, I will say this–if you decide to go, it is really fun to see it with a friend who UNDERSTANDS. Also, we recommend having cocktails beforehand. I’m not sure it helped us much, although maybe we would have been really cranky if we hadn’t had them.

      I would love to see more YA adaptations succeed, too. But so much of it depends on getting the right producers and studio behind it, who are willing to understand and invest in these projects. And hah, if you thought the CGI was bad in Twilight, Mary, I want you to come back and tell me what you think of the psi-hounds in this film. So, so bad.

      Hopeful that Divergent is fun, too! The trailers have looked really good. At least they’re taking it seriously.

  49. Natalie Crown

    I have a weird relationship with the VA books. People that know my reading tastes warned me off them, sure that I would hate them. Eventually, curiosity got the best of me and…I didn’t hate the first book. I didn’t love it either but it was okay. I then read Frostbite, but while I had a few issues with it, I actually enjoyed that one! My interest trailed off with the third and I never continued the series. So I just fall in this middle ground with these books.

    That said, I was still curious about the film. This part of your joint recap really stands out to me:

    ‘Yeah, by the end I had curled into little ball facing the back of the theater because I felt really embarrassed on behalf of the people who made the movie–and on behalf of myself as a superfan of the property. Being an adult who reads YA carries such a weird stigma–as grownups reading comics used to do and still does to some degree–and when movie versions of beloved properties miss the mark, the YA community as a whole enjoys the disdain of the larger world.’

    YA gets such a bad reception in general which is dumb because YA is mostly fantastic. Yes, there is rubbish out there, but isn’t that the same throughout literature? Nobody ever focuses on the good. Like, how inclusive YA is. How important it is that young people learn from good books. How YA books are read by people of all ages and appropriate for EVERYONE.

    So it frustrated me when film makers view these adaptations as a way to make a quick buck. They assume all ‘teens’ are silly things that will enjoy whatever crap gets thrown at them. Then other people check out a YA adaptation that has had no effort put in, and does no credit to the source material…but that is what they believe YA is all about! Silly, shallow stuff!

    Why can’t they just take a little bit of care? Why can’t they just input some depth? Why can’t people treat young people as individuals that actually have brains and can handle something a bit more meaningful?

    I don’t even know if my comment makes any sense. Guess I just get mad sometimes. Ha.

    Great post though!
    Natalie Crown recently posted…Scarlet – 4/5

    • Wendy Darling

      It’s always so interesting to see how differently everyone reacts to the VA books. I liked the first one, but ended up loving the second, so maybe you’ll have the same trajectory with them as I did if you ever continue! (That last book is awful, though.) Did you like Rose in the books? I think so much of your enjoyment of that series depends on how you view her.

      It’s very hard for YA outside of the bubble we readers live in. There’s more coverage of it now from mainstream media, but I think it’s mostly because of all the money it’s generating from book sales and movie deals. It’s still something that non-readers look down on or don’t take the time to understand (I mean, if you look at trade coverage of just the box office figures from this weekend alone, you’ll see that they summarize the story as “three friends return to the school” which is totally wrong in including Dimitri in a group with Rose and Lissa), and these film projects that just get tossed over the fence don’t help public perception at all. Claire Legrande talked about this in a Twitter conversation I had with her over the weekend, too, I’ll have to find it and add the link here later. As you said, it’s frustrating that these things are viewed as a way to make a quick buck.

      It takes so little to fix these things, too. They just don’t seem to know how to do it.

      And I loved your comment! Agree with your sentiments completely. I get upset over this, too.

      • Natalie Crown

        Ah Rose…you know, I liked her more than I thought I would. My friends that have read the VA books HATED her, so I went in with that in mind. I thought she was okay and I appreciate what Richelle Mead was aiming for with the character. I think part of the reason I liked the second book most was because I liked Rose most in that one. But I didn’t LOVE her…so nothing really held my interst I guess…

        I’d love to see that link if you could find it!

        That’s the thing that irritates me most. It would be so so easy for these films to be donw well. It wouldn’t cost a ton, it just takes that touch more effort!
        Natalie Crown recently posted…Scarlet – 4/5

    • Kate Bond

      I totally got your comment. The stigma against YA feels sexist, frankly–kind of like how Fifty Shades of Grey is called “Mommy Porn,” which is such a demeaning, reductive term, and mocks feminine sexuality.

  50. Joy (Joyousreads)

    That is awful. To be honest, I was looking forward to seeing Dimka brought to life and I thought the actor they picked was pretty much dead on. But when I started seeing clips of the film, I was cringing right there and then. I thought there was no way I’m going to pay money to see it. It is even more terrible than Twilight (I love Twilight, but even the most dire-hard fans can admit it was an awful movie!, and that’s saying a lot.

    Lovely film review, ladies!
    Joy (Joyousreads) recently posted…Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi

    • Wendy Darling

      Yeah, I didn’t mind what I saw in the early stills, but when the trailers started coming out and we didn’t see much of him, I started to wonder if they were hiding him. :( Such a shame! I don’t think it’s the actor’s fault, either.

      I totally agree–this movie makes Twilight, with all its faults, look like a masterpiece.

  51. Kristen@My Friends Are Fiction

    This makes me sad–though I’m not surprised at all. I had planned to see this but I think I’m going to skip it. I think it’ll make me too sad to sit through it. I’ve only read the first book so far and I don’t want to ruin my image of the characters.

    I agree 100% with all you said about YA adaptations and what it takes to make a good one. This is the reason why when I think of Angelfall or Anna Dressed in Blood as movies I cringe and want to cry. I actually hope they don’t get to film because is can’t imagine them done right.

    I hope the next slew of films do much better than this one. Thank you for the thoughtful, beautifully written, honest account of the film.
    Kristen@My Friends Are Fiction recently posted…The Winner’s Curse Blog Tour- Interview, Playlist & Giveaway (US/Canada)

    • Wendy Darling

      Maybe one of those things you see on Netflix or cable. It made us really sad, too–as soon as the movie started, I felt this awful “oh noooooo” sense of dismay because I could see the direction things were taking. You should definitely read the rest of the books, though! The middle ones are excellent. Just try to pretend the last one doesn’t exist.

      Man, Angelfall and Anna have HUGE potential to be excellent films as well, at least content-wise. So much depends on the care they take with the adaptations, though. I think the people behind the Angelfall movie mean it might have a shot at being good, and Stephenie Meyer being involved with Anna means it might actually be made. We’ll just have to cross our fingers. Maybe future adaptations are paying attention to what’s happening with the crop of unsuccessful YA films.

      • Kate Bond

        I have high hopes for those two projects. When I read who had acquired Angelfall, I was sooooo relieved, and I think the fact that the star of Anna is a dude makes it more likely to find a wider audience. Fingers crossed.

  52. Kate @ Ex Libris

    Oh, GAH, that speech at the end. Painful. So painful.

    I did like the film, but I went in expecting it to have major flaws (and it did) and I really didn’t think that it would make enough to have a sequel. So, with that in my mind I just sort of turned off my brain. The thing is, I really don’t see many movies at all, so I’m pretty easy to please.

    I thought Dimitri was a bit beefy for the role, agreed, but I didn’t have trouble with his accent. (I work with a lot of Russians, though, so that might have something to do with it.) I didn’t bring my husband to the movie, but I agree that it was confusing to non-readers. The women next to us were totally confused the whole time. I kept hearing “what?”. I also thought that the whole thing with Rose’s mom was really glossed over. It would have been better just to leave her out because you got no sense of their complicated relationship. She just looked like an a-hole sending those telegrams.

    I agree with what you said about Mason, and I think my favorite person in the move was Christian. (Also the hottest. WHAT?) It made no sense to me why they started denying that it was “jokey” because it was *totally* jokey. Well, what can you do? I had fun, but it was no Oscar winner, that’s for sure. It looks like the only Ivashkov we’ll see on screen is Queen Tatiana. *sniff*
    Kate @ Ex Libris recently posted…Ignite Me By Tahereh Mafi

    • Wendy Darling

      The speech was also so long! I tuned her out because it was so embarrassing to picture the actress trying to read this thing and keep a straight face at the same time.

      You are SO right about the thing with Rose’s mom. It was both distracting (it kept coming up again and again with those dumb telegrams, and it never went anywhere in this film) and baffling because that is another thing that they could have easily cut without anyone noticing. Easy enough to slot it into another movie if they really planned on having another one, unless somebody was supposed to cameo as Janine and they just cut that scene instead. So much build-up for nothing.

      I think another problem with the whole Christian thing (agree he was the most appealing person) is that it seems to be really hard for movies to figure out how to make vampires look attractive. Is it that hard, really? I know plenty of people in real life who are super pale but beautiful. Look at Lady Mary on Downton, her skin is like fresh milk and roses.

      I’m glad you enjoyed it more than we did, though. I know other people on Twitter have as well.

    • Kate Bond

      KATE. Read what the writer says about Lissa’s speech at the end in an interview:

      ‘For instance there is a speech in the teaser that Lissa gives, and it’s not strictly in the book. But it is kind of a companion piece to being in the book where the queen humiliates Lissa. And that actual speech, trust, I swear to God you guys are going to like it! But the way it’s cut into that teaser and it’s like, “And blood is death!” Then everyone starts cheering at “blood is death” and I am like what is going on? They are going to think, “okay, let’s all be humans now.” It’s very misinterpreted, and it is just marketing. Please feel free to ask about anything in the teaser, so I can clear the air and save my soul. Un-crucify myself! My motto is, “you can come drag me and my brother out on the street and pour gasoline on us and light a match if you don’t like the movie, but don’t do it yet, off a one minute teaser.” Please, let us live to finish editing.’

      Here’s the full interview:


      • Kate @ Ex Libris

        This made me laugh, because TRUTH – “There are a lot of people out there that want kind of a four hour slide show of every page of the book and they watch it while wearing white gloves and holding a clipboard and checking to make sure that every frame is exactly like the book.”

        Mia is one dimensional in the book?? Is he high?

        Well that was interesting, but I’m not sure the final product matched his aspirations, although I know that a LOT goes into a movie other than the script.
        Kate @ Ex Libris recently posted…Ignite Me By Tahereh Mafi

        • Kate Bond

          Yeah… They definitely did not ADD dimension to Mia in the movie. And a lot of the problems can be traced back to the script. Like, most of the problems. Sigh.

  53. sarabara081 @ Forever 17 Books

    LOL I laughed at a lot of this. And I totally know what you mean on certain parts. I was laughing when I don’t think I was supposed to be laughing. I actually did like the Rose casting though. I just didn’t like the amount of comedy and sarcastic, snarky comments they had her say. And where I didn’t mind the Dimitri casting before seeing it, I didn’t love him like I hoped. I hated how they rushed through the relationship between the two and I could not hear Danila talk half the time! It was quiet, fast and the accent. I read the books after casting so maybe that is why he was what I pictured. His hair bothered me though. And god the clothes… Zoey and Danila seemed to have a lot of chemistry off-screen. The lust charm scene was so cringe-worthy. So sad because it was probably what I wanted the most. Heh. I liked the action. I thought it was pretty good, especially compared to everything else. The special effects were lousy though (god those psi-hounds). But I agree about the whole tone. Just didn’t work. I expected it though, from that trailer. It’s really unfortunate that such a great series was done so poorly as a movie. :( On a whole I didn’t hate it as much as you girls did, but yeah, probably the worst adaptation I’ve seen.
    sarabara081 @ Forever 17 Books recently posted…Cover Reveal + Giveaway: Get Even by Gretchen McNeil

    • Wendy Darling

      Hee. I bookmarked your review when I saw it pop up on Twitter, so I need to come visit it soon, Sara! Rushing through the relationships was the my biggest disappointment with this–do you think Rose and Dimitri even spent 5 minutes of screen time talking to each other? They spent more time on Lissa and Christian, which is just weird to me.

      I actually did like that Danila brought a quieter presence to the film–it was the ONLY time the movie slowed even a little bit, without him everything would have been on breakneck speed the entire time. But yeah, it was hard to hear/understand him, partly because of how it was filmed and edited. That hair, those clothes, those special effects, that lust charm scenes–ugh.

      Also, I’m curious where the “Blood Sisters” subtitle went. There was so much fuss about adding that to the movie title to differentiate that from the potential sequels–I wonder if they dropped it when they saw how superficial the Rose/Lissa relationship was, as well as the clear “no chance in hell” prospects for a second film.

    • Wendy Darling

      Wow, that is a great article, Anne–thanks so much for the link! We are in complete agreement with their assessment, it seems. I haven’t seen too many reviews (in passing) that have really attempted to explain how great the books are, which is why it’s especially painful that this film was such a joke. It’s nice to see that appreciation from a bigger outlet.

  54. Leanna

    Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear…

    I admit I was fearful for this after seeing the trailer (haven’t seen the movie yet). It’s such a pity as these books are SO good! I want a second movie because I really want to see Adrian, but maybe that’s not going to happen, and maybe, after what you’ve said, that won’t be a bad thing. :(

    Also, fornicating?! Okay…
    Leanna recently posted…Reviewed by Arianne: Salvage by Keren David.

    • Wendy Darling

      III know, I want to shake people and say DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND HOW GOOD THESE BOOKS ARE? Look what you did to them! It’s so upsetting. Such a huge amount of material to be mined in these books.

      And Leanna, I totally lost it when Lissa talked about Christian fornicating. I couldn’t deal, I was shaking so hard with laughter that I couldn’t stop for at least a couple of minutes.

      • Kate Bond

        Wendy lost her shit on that line. It was really amazing. I had almost the opposite reaction–my mouth fell open in utter shock at the dumbness.

  55. Kristin@Blood,Sweat and Books

    After reading this my desire to see the film plunged to I’ll wait for the Dvd levels. Not that it was much above that to begin with mind you.It is a shame tohear when a YA transition from page to screen fails. I just don’t get it. City of Bones was that way and so was Beautiful Creatures. Both these adaptations could’ve been huge hits but instead of following the source material they tried to make them almost Twilightesque in mood and feel.Anyway…great post!
    Kristin@Blood,Sweat and Books recently posted…Review: Nil by Lynne Matson

    • Wendy Darling

      Yeah, honestly this feels like a straight to DVD release, so if you aren’t rushing to see it, waiting is perfectly fine. I didn’t see Beautiful Creatures (hee, that trailer!), but City of Bones had some really cheesy moments that could have been easily cut/improved to make the movie better. But you’re probably right that they wanted to make it Twilight-appealing romance-wise. It’s too bad, because I thought COB was a decent adaptation of very difficult material for the most part.

  56. Jasprit

    I love your honesty in this post ladies and I can totally understand why parts of the film didn’t work out for you and were cringe inducing. I’m still laughing at Kate’s uncle Gary comment, you do want some connection between our characters, also Rose and Dimitri are meant to have a lot of tension between them and of course you want to see that work. I was a little wary when they cast Theo James as Four, he still doesn’t live up to the image I had of Four in my head, lets just hope he pulls off a decent job! I’m going to watch an advance screening of The Book Thief today, I read it so long ago, that I don’t remember much, but I will certainly have my tissue box at the ready. Thanks again for sharing another great post with us! :)
    Jasprit recently posted…Mini-reviews: The Dollhouse Asylum and Twinmaker

    • Wendy Darling

      I was nervous about Theo James, because I already thought he looked a bit older as Pamuk on Downton Abbey, so I couldn’t imagine him with someone as young as Tris! But the stills I’ve seen from the movie haven’t bothered me so far, we’ll just have to see.

      And thanks, it seems that some fans did enjoy the movie. But we’re also fans and we did not.

      • Kate Bond

        I am extremely attracted to Theo James, so I’m hoping that he’ll be sexy in a way that is different from what I’d imagined. If not, I’ll watch it on mute.