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Review: Vampire Academy

Vampire_Academy_PosterIt doesn’t build its world as deftly as “The Hunger Games” and can’t compete with “Mean Girls’” smart wit, but “Vampire Academy” does manage to find a place for itself as a silly yet enjoyable variant.

First off, the must-know basics – there are three species in “Vampire Academy;” the Moroi are benevolent vampires that only drink the blood of willing human feeders, the Strigoi are an immortal, vicious breed of vampire that target Moroi because their blood makes them stronger, and then there are the Dhampirs, human-Moroi hybrids that train to become Guardians and protect the Moroi from Strigoi attacks.

Now meet Lissa Dragomir (Lucy Fry) and Rose Hathaway (Zoey Deutch). Lissa is a Moroi and Rose is a Dhampir, but both attend St. Vladimir’s Academy – that is until they decided they were better off on their own. After a year on the run, Lissa and Rose are caught and forced to return to St. Vladimir’s to continue their studies. While Lissa tries to shed her late-bloomer status and finally specialize in an element, Rose is playing catch-up for her combat courses by training with a mentor, a Guardian named Dimitri (Danila Kozlovsky). Despite making an effort to keep in line, the threat of school bullies has Rose on high alert. Trouble is, there’s something far worse than gossip brewing within the walls of St. Vladimir’s and as Lissa’s soon-to-be Guardian, it’s up to Rose to keep her safe from all threats.

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Here’s How ‘Vampire Academy’ Could Inject New Life into Vampire Movies

Vampire_Academy_StillThe World

It’s no wonder Vampire Academy is oozing with expository dialogue; there’s a lot going on in this vampire battle-filled world:

The Strigoi: They need Moroi blood in order to maintain their superstrength.

The Moroi: Are determined to preserve their morality and never turn into Strigoi.

The Dhampirs: Protect the Moroi — if there were no Moroi left, their race would die out (a Dhampir can only be born to a Dhampir and a Moroi).

St. Vladimir’s Academy: The boarding school in Montana where Moroi and their guardian novices are trained in combat and culture.

Throw in that Dhampirs are stronger, faster and more agile than the Moroi, who can’t even use weapons, and you wind up with a LOT of folks needing something from someone else.

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Interview: There Be Dragon’s Rodrigo Santoro

Who can say no to a film starring Rodrigo Santoro? Not only is he a fine actor, but not half bad to look at for two hours either. In his latest production, There Be Dragons, Santoro combines his experience playing the dashing love interest in like Love Actually with his understanding of working with factual material in Che as well as his know-how in action-packed realms like 300.

Santoro plays Oriol, a leader of the revolution during the Spanish Civil War. While at a rally, Oriol catches sight of a Hungarian radical, Ildiko (Olga Kurylenko). However, Oriol isn’t the only one to fall for this gun-toting fighter; so does another member of his group, Manolo (Wes Bentley). What Oriol doesn’t know is that not only does Manolo pose a threat to his relationship with Ildiko, but to his entire operation, too, as Manolo is functioning as a spy for the opposition.

In honor of There Be Dragons’ March 6th release, Santoro sat down to talk about the details. He touches upon everything from his extensive research to his experience balancing physical demands like riding a horse and brandishing a rifle. Before wrapping up, Santoro runs through his list of upcoming productions, which includes his first go at producing, another piece that’ll let him put his knowledge of the Spanish Civil War to use and hopefully, one day, Chris Sparlings’ Falling Slowly. Hear it all straight from Santoro himself in the video interview below.

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Review: There Be Dragons

First and foremost, you should know there are no dragons in There Be Dragons. Of course we can’t take every title literally, but when you’ve got one that pronounces a particular beast will exist, you either must deliver or provide a valid explanation for the name. Again, There Be Dragons features no dragons, merely a weak reasoning of the title and just about everything else that happens in the film for that matter.

Inspired by true events, There Be Dragons focuses on childhood friends Josemaría Escrivá (Charlie Cox) and Manolo Torres (Wes Bentley). While both boys wind up attending the same seminary, from there, they go on entirely divergent paths, Manolo working as a spy in the Spanish Civil War and Josemaría becoming a priest and fighting to keep the faith in even the most violent times. When Josemaría is left with no choice but to abandon Madrid and flee to safety so he may see his vision of Opus Dei to fruition, Torres remains on the battlefield where he develops a dangerous obsession with a Hungarian radical named Ildiko (Olga Kurylenko).

Their tale is told through the research of Manolo’s very own son, Robert (Dougary Scott). Robert’s writing a book about Josemaría and naturally, his primary source is his father. Initially the now old and ailing Manolo refuses to unearth the haunting memories, but once Robert opens the floodgates, his father has no choice but to confront the past so he may finally be forgiven.

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