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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Vampire Academy

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


Zoey Deutch and Danila Kozlovsky star in a scene from the movie "Vampire Academy."
Add half a cup of "Twilight" to a teaspoon or two of "Harry Potter" and, voila, you've got the pallid fantasy adventure "Vampire Academy" (Weinstein).

Though intended to please an adolescent palate, this unappealing recipe includes both visual and thematic ingredients that make it inappropriate fare for targeted teens.

Adult moviegoers, on the other hand, will likely be more bored than offended. That's because director Mark Waters' adaptation of a series of books by novelist Richelle Mead relies far too heavily on a complex, self-referential mythology about which it's very hard to care. Doing her best to guide the audience through it all, during the exposition-heavy opening scenes, is plucky teen Rose Hathaway (Zoey Deutch).

Rose, it seems, is a Dhampir, a half-vampire, half-human hybrid. Dhampirs have but one purpose in life: to protect the Moroi, a race of benign, but mortal bloodsuckers. Happily for Rose, the particular object of her care is Moroi princess Lissa Dragomir (Lucy Fry), who also happens to be Rose's BFF. How awesome is that?

And who is it that threatens the Moroi? Why the Strigoi, of course. These nightmarish vein-drainers are not only evil, they're immortal, at least until someone drives a silver stake into their hearts.

All together now, with feeling: Strigoi live forever, but not so the Moroi.

Taking a back seat to all this explanation is the plot, which kicks off with Rose and Lissa on the lam. They've escaped from the titular school for reasons that will only be fully revealed quite a while later. But their yearlong adventure in the real world is about to come to an end as uber-Dhampir Dimitri Belikov (Danila Kozlovsky) supervises their recapture.

So it's back to the old alma mater where, under the benign gaze of Headmistress Kirova (Olga Kurylenko) and Provost Victor Dashkov (Gabriel Byrne), Lissa resumes her royal studies and guardian-in-training Rose gets some remedial martial arts lessons from Dimitri.

Not only are the Strigoi lurking about outside, however; there also seem to be threats to Lissa's welfare from within the supposedly safe confines of the academy.

Still, there's always time for love, right? In Lissa's case, she just can't keep her eyes off bad-boy social outcast Christian Ozera (Dominic Sherwood). Christian is shunned among the Moroi because his parent chose to become Strigoi. As for Rose, it's all about much older, but still dreamy Dimitri.

One characteristic of the good undead is that they regularly attend a version of church. In fact, Vampire Academy is only a nickname; the institution's formal designation is St. Vladimir's Academy, though the Vladimir in question, hero of Moroi and Dhampir alike, bears no resemblance to any real-life champion of faith.

Still, Lissa, Rose and their peers regularly interrupt their high-school style backstabbing to troop off to the chapel, a sanctuary that combines Western art and architecture with a de-Christianized take on Eastern Orthodox vestments.

Such religious trappings hardly mask the fact that fang-sinking as a metaphor for sex is never far from the surface in screenwriter—and director's brother—Daniel Waters' script. This becomes especially problematic early on while Rose and Lissa are on the run. With no other source of nourishment available, Lissa feeds on Rose's blood, and the effect, for her willing victim, is more than merely painful.

As for more conventional fleshly bonding, it's kept under wraps with a single exception, and that occurs when both characters involved have been bewitched. In fact, the students of St. Vladimir's seem to take a refreshingly dim view of premarital high jinks, which they refer to by the old-fashioned F-word: fornication.

For all the sublimation that may be going on, however, there is still, unmistakably, quite a bit of steam being let off.

The film contains much hand-to-hand combat as well as action violence with minimal gore, semi-graphic nonmarital sexual activity, numerous sexual references and considerable crass language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III—adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.



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Katharine Drexel: If your father is an international banker and you ride in a private railroad car, you are not likely to be drawn into a life of voluntary poverty. But if your mother opens your home to the poor three days each week and your father spends half an hour each evening in prayer, it is not impossible that you will devote your life to the poor and give away millions of dollars. Katharine Drexel did that. 
<p>She was born in Philadelphia in 1858. She had an excellent education and traveled widely. As a rich girl, she had a grand debut into society. But when she nursed her stepmother through a three-year terminal illness, she saw that all the Drexel money could not buy safety from pain or death, and her life took a profound turn. </p><p>She had always been interested in the plight of the Indians, having been appalled by what she read in Helen Hunt Jackson’s <i>A Century of Dishonor</i>. While on a European tour, she met Pope Leo XIII and asked him to send more missionaries to Wyoming for her friend Bishop James O’Connor. The pope replied, “Why don’t you become a missionary?” His answer shocked her into considering new possibilities. </p><p>Back home, Katharine visited the Dakotas, met the Sioux leader Red Cloud and began her systematic aid to Indian missions. </p><p>She could easily have married. But after much discussion with Bishop O’Connor, she wrote in 1889, “The feast of St. Joseph brought me the grace to give the remainder of my life to the Indians and the Colored.” Newspaper headlines screamed “Gives Up Seven Million!” </p><p>After three and a half years of training, she and her first band of nuns (Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored) opened a boarding school in Santa Fe. A string of foundations followed. By 1942 she had a system of black Catholic schools in 13 states, plus 40 mission centers and 23 rural schools. Segregationists harassed her work, even burning a school in Pennsylvania. In all, she established 50 missions for Indians in 16 states. </p><p>Two saints met when Katharine was advised by Mother Cabrini about the “politics” of getting her Order’s Rule approved in Rome. Her crowning achievement was the founding of Xavier University in New Orleans, the first Catholic university in the United States for African Americans. </p><p>At 77, she suffered a heart attack and was forced to retire. Apparently her life was over. But now came almost 20 years of quiet, intense prayer from a small room overlooking the sanctuary. Small notebooks and slips of paper record her various prayers, ceaseless aspirations and meditation. She died at 96 and was canonized in 2000.</p> American Catholic Blog Our task during these forty days is to examine our lives in light of God’s Word and see where we’ve allowed darkness to creep in, where we’ve taken the bait of the diabolical fisher of men. It’s time to use the sword of the Spirit to cut through his web of deception, to free ourselves from the net that holds us as prey.


 
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