Mixing the supernatural with teenage angst is a popular ploy in both writing and film. It has produced such insipid crap as the Harry Potter and Twilight series. Real men have suffered through these films just to keep peace in the home. Teenage waifs seeking to eradicate their self indulgent existences with strange powers and sexually frustrated middle-aged bitches attempting to reclaim a myriad of bad decisions through magic comprise the overly large audience for this tripe. It is a very sad commentary on the state of the feminine psyche spawned by the feminist movement. Did it ever occur to the creators of this bilge creatures who are supernatural in nature wouldn’t experience the same adolescent emotion barrage as a normal human? While a teen, Jesus was preaching to the elders in the temple, not engaging tree top swinging chariot races or flying broomstick maneuvers. But, I digress…
I can say if forced to sit through one of these painful screen experiences, “Beautiful Creatures” is the one to select. While it is fanciful, pertaining to a family of witches, it is not so laden with estrogen as to make the entire concept alien. The presence of Jeremy Irons helps immensely.
Alden Ehrenreich is Ethan Wate. Ethan is the town catch; star athlete, bright student, good-looking. He dates the best looking girls in town and is the kid every other guy wants to be. When Lena Duchannes, played by Alice Englert, comes to town, he is smitten. Alice is part of the Ravenwood (hopefully, you recall where this name came from) Family, long considered a pox on the town. Still, at 16 years of age, these two know and understand the meaning of true love and set out to prove humans and witches can co-exist and live happily ever after. Novelist Kami Garcia must be a Wiccan.
“Beautiful Creatures” must remain politically correct, however, even in the realm of the supernatural. The Ravenwood Family is not called witches, but rather casters. Not surprisingly, there are good casters and bad casters. The good casters, like Edwin Newman, Britt Hume and David Brinkley are all gone, due to a curse and only bad casters are left, like Anderson Cooper, Wolf Blitzer and Michelle Madow. (Sorry, that was way too easy.)
KEY SCENES TO LOOK FOR:
- THE RAVENWOOD FAMILY DINNER
- ANY SCENE WITH EMMY ROSSUM
There is Hollywood hype floating the above mentioned dinner scene did not incorporate green screen techniques. Apparently, Director Richard LaGravenese is not a fan of SFX, so he had a table constructed that would spin and sat the actors in chairs bolted to the floor to counterspin. Alice and Emmy stood on floating platforms and everyone at the table loaded up on Dramamine. Studio PR is claiming the scene took three days to film. I’m afraid I’ll call ‘bullshit’ on this one. The scene is fun, but it doesn’t look like real actors spinning. SFX Supervisor Matt Kutcher and SFX Technician Joseph Livolsi may not have used green screen, but I’m sure Irons and cast were not spinning at force 8. My inquiries to the studio remain unanswered.
The problem with “Beautiful Creatures” is the same plaguing a plethora of pictures today; it is too long, by at least 20 minutes. Blame Editor David Moritz, who should know better. At two hours and ten minutes, the plight of the star-crossed lovers becomes less important than the amount of swamp ass building up in the seat.
I made it through “Beautiful Creatures”. It has a compelling, though clichéd story. I can’t say that for the other series of this ilk. That should mean something, right?
THE GRADE FOR BEAUTIFUL CREATURES = C.
Fiore Mastracci hosts and produces Outtakes, the nation’s longest-running film review program, nearing its 500th episode. He casts spells daily, and not all of them are good.