The latest supernatural teen romance based on a book series, “Beautiful Creatures” could be a hit with young adults on its Valentine’s Day release. It is a blend of “Twilight” and “Harry Potter,” though it’s lacking in the excitement from action that the others have. It should be popular with the youth that loves this genre, but adults might find it tiresome.
Ethan Wate (Alden Ehrenreich) has been living in the small Southern town of Gatlin his whole life and can only escape the conservative close-mindedness by reading banned books. He dreams about a young woman he has never met until new girl Lena Duchannes (Alice Englert) arrives and personifies his dreams. The whole town, led by busybody Mrs. Lincoln (Emma Thompson), believes Lena is an evil Satanist, though Ethan quickly falls in love with her unique qualities. He learns that Lena is a Caster (a.k.a. witch) and is about to face the Claiming on her sixteenth birthday, when her fate will be decided as either on the side of the Light or the Dark. Meanwhile, her family tries to sway her Claiming; her uncle Macon Ravenwood (Jeremy Irons) chooses the good fight while her spirit mother Sarafine and her cousin Ridley (Emmy Rossum) try to draw out Lena’s Dark nature.
“Beautiful Creatures” is almost exactly a mixture of “Harry Potter” and “Twilight.” It combines fantasy and magic with romance between different beings, in this case mortals and Casters. It is melodramatic, full of teen angst and family drama, and heavily focused on Christian, Southern small town life. Like “Harry Potter,” though, it has the potential to become darker, deeper, and more intense as the characters age in future films. Unfortunately, it mostly feels like a direct replication of these other two series and every other film in the genre; the romance feels similar, Lena’s mother rips off Voldemort from the first “Harry Potter,” and the Claiming process is reminiscent of the Sorting Hat. If you like the formats of these films and only want a change of supernatural creatures, “Beautiful Creatures” will suffice. But anyone looking for originality will be sorely disappointed.
Like these previously mentioned series, “Beautiful Creatures” has surprisingly drawn in some top notch actors; Academy Award winners Emma Thompson and Jeremy Irons along with award-winning actors Viola Davis and Eileen Atkins play major supporting characters and make the film palatable. Emma Thompson probably has the biggest role after the young lovers, and she is surprisingly wonderful as a conservative Southerner; her accent is mostly spot-on and she looks fantastic.
Alden Ehrenreich’s male lead is set to be extremely thoughtful almost to the point of brooding, as expected, but his tastes are interesting and slightly rebellious, painting him as an upcoming Jack Kerouac. His charm and smile can replace the ever sour Robert Pattinson, but his co-star Alice Englert is much too mild for her role. She is convincing as the delicate Light heart but her attempts at being the Dark, angry witch are sometiems laughable.
Along with its dull storyline, “Beautiful Creatures” lacks the special in special effects. The action is pretty boring with the highlight involving a spinning table. Seriously. If this film is successful, the rest of the book series will probably be made and the budget will probably go up to help the visual effects. The ending will leave some audiences wanting more but a sequel is almost guaranteed.
Rating for “Beautiful Creatures:” C
For more information on this film or to view its trailer, click here.
With many releases opening this Valentine’s Day, “Beautiful Creatures” is playing at the major theaters in Columbus, including Gateway and Rave Polaris, but the showtimes are somewhat limited for a major release. For showtimes, click here.