Beautiful Creatures, the new movie based on Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl's best-selling young adult series, may be getting lumped in with all the other teen-centric movies in the marketplace -- but that doesn't mean it belongs there.
Truly, Beautiful Creatures is a witty, enchanting blend that will delight fans of the books and entice new fans all at once. Director and screenwriter Richard LaGravenese has lovingly translated the book for the big screen, making changes necessary for the transition in formats while remaining true to the spirit of the novels.
Some other book adaptations in recent years have worked too hard to remain true to the source material, to the detriment of the movie's quality. Not so here. LaGravenese confindently and smartly dropped elements that worked in the book -- but would have burdened the movie with lengthy explanations and caused confusion for the audience. He streamlined the story for its move to the big screen, and in the process created a brilliant, fast-paced adventure about love and fate and magic.
Beautiful Creatures is also brilliantly acted -- and while veteran thespians Jeremy Irons, Viola Davis, and Emma Thompson shine in their roles (no surprise there), it's the movie's youngest stars that really make this movie work. Alden Ehrenreich is simply charming as the small town outsider Ethan Wate. His crooked smile, Southern drawl, and teenage wit endear him to the audience. Alice Englert is poised in the role of Lena Duchannes, portraying a teen undergoing an extreme case of coming-of-age. She brings honesty to the role without being melodramatic or cartoonish.
In the supporting roles, Emmy Rossum is deliciously evil as Lena's Dark Caster cousin Ridley. Fans have complained that her role was altered from the books, but the true essence of Ridley remains, and Rossum performs the role with relish that is just delightful to watch. On the other side, Thomas Mann is utterly charming as Ethan's BFF Link -- and the only real disappointment is that he doesn't get more screen time. Even the local mean girls, played by Zoey Deutch and Tiffany Boone, are wonderful to watch.
Some fans may be disappointed by the deviations LaGravenese has made from the book -- but each change really helps to elevate the movie beyond the media's claims that it's "just another Twilight." Beautiful Creatures is a beautiful movie: it has lush setting, atmospheric music, drop dead gorgeous costumes, an extraordinarily talented cast, and a kick ass story. Garcia and Stohl's novel is brilliantly re-imagined for the big screen -- and I can only hope Warner Brothers signs on for three more movies to adapt the rest of the books in this phenomenal series.