Beautiful Creatures Movie Review
Kidzworld’s movie review of “Beautiful Creatures”, the new supernatural romance film based on the novel
By: Lynn Barker
The New Girl
15-year-old Lena Duchannes (Dew-Kane, Alice Englert) has moved to dead-end Gatlin, S.C. to live with her reclusive and weird Uncle Macon (Jeremy Irons) after her emerging “Caster” powers caused chaos at her last school. She’s dreading her “Claiming” at age 16 in which a family curse predicts she’ll become a powerful “dark” spellcaster. Lena tries to keep a low profile but local boy Ethan Wate (Alden Eldenreich) recognizes her as the girl he’s been dreaming about for months. He’s simply got to be near her and she can’t deny her attraction to him.
The Locket, The Locals and The Lovers
Ethan finds an old locket in the ground at a neighboring plantation and family friend/local librarian Amma (Viola Davis) recognizes it and tells him to get rid of it. At school, the mean girls upset Lena until her powers blast out all the windows in the classroom! On suspension, Lena stays home from school and Ethan goes to her at Ravenwood, her family’s home, and tries to give her the locket as a gift. Macon invites him in for tea. Later in the garden, Lena and Ethan both touch the locket and get sudden visions of the Civil War past and two local lovers who resemble them.
After Ethan sees some very weird and sometimes charming stuff happening when Lena is near, she has to tell him her secret; her whole family are “Casters” known as witches in other circles, and each member has a special power. Soon she’ll be chosen for black or white witchcraft. Meanwhile, Amma and Macon secretly meet in her family’s swampy graveyard. She is a “seer” and both know that mysterious evil caster Serafine will do her best to see that Lena goes dark. They must prevent it. In town, wacky Mrs. Lincoln (Emma Thompson) tries to stir up the townsfolk against Lena.
Ridley Rides In
Lena’s cousin Ridley (Emmy Rossum), who was claimed for the dark when she was 16, drives into town bent on helping Serafine claim Lena. Sexy and with siren powers, she totally mesmerizes Ethan’s best friend Link (Thomas Mann) and takes Ethan to a family dinner full of freaky Casters, hoping to scare him off. When that doesn’t work, she seduces Link and he does her bidding and spying. On a movie date, Ethan and Lena both touch the locket and see yet another flashback to the Civil War lovers; the boy a mortal soldier, the girl a Caster. When he is shot, she brings him back to life, a definite Caster “no no”. As a result, all the women in Lena’s family are cursed.
Not What It Seems
As Lena’s claiming day nears, we learn that Mrs. Lincoln is far more dangerous to Lena than she appears to be and is a more than worthy opponent. To break the family curse, Lena must consult the “Book of Moons” locked away in a secret Caster library run by Amma. Will Lena be able to control her fate in time? Will friends and family pay the price for caring about her? Will Lena have to push Ethan away to save him?
What is refreshing about this supernatural romance is that it is girl-powered to the max! No damsels in distress here but powerful women struggling against one another. The romance between a lonely supernatural girl and a bookish local guy who just wants some excitement in his life is charming and more than one tween and teen can identify with being the outcast at school. If you’ve ever hidden a secret and longed for someone special to share it with, you can get into Lena and Ethan’s connection.
Worrisome for book fans is director/adapter Richard LaGravenese’s decision to keep the basic story but do enough re-tweaking that core fans might not be thrilled with the omissions; Although Ethan still narrates the story, dropped is the mental communication between Lena and Ethan and the song that Ethan hears in his dreams. Amma doesn’t live with Ethan’s family and becomes both the Seer and the Caster librarian. Macon is not an Incubus (dream sucker). Ridley is a classy, dark-haired chick, not a blonde hottie in short-shorts and there is no school dance and no party for Lena with Link’s rock band. I miss Boo Radley the wolf/dog and the ending in which Ethan almost leaves town, is quite different. The film’s dialogue however is often clever.
Despite alterations, the film looks great, with atmospheric cinematography, cool lightning and storms demonstrating Lena’s powers and a lot of humor to lighten all the dark doings. As the star-crossed lovers, Alden Ehrenreich and Alice Englert seem more “real” and accessible than either Kristen Stewart’s Bella or certainly Rob Pattinson’s male model-looking Edward (down Twihards! I didn’t say better, I just said more like us). Veteran actors Jeremy Irons and Emma Thompson are wonderful and both funny and frightening as Macon and Mrs. Lincoln/Serafine. Zoey Deutch and Thomas Mann are relatable as the cloying Emily and Ethan’s best pal Link.
The success of the film will come down to its acceptance by the fans of the “Caster” books and the enjoyment of romance/supernatural fans who never read them. Is the film enough like the book to make fans happy? Are the story, look of the film and actors engaging enough to attract new fans? Or, are there too many filmgoers who just don’t care for more star-crossed teen romance? Whatever category you fit into, you might enjoy checking out the film and finding out. We’d say three and a half out of five stars. Since we don’t have a “half”.. going three.
Beautiful Creatures Movie Review: