Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Beautiful Creatures | Alden Ehrenreich, Alice Englert, Jeremy Irons, Emma Rossum, Emma Thompson | Review

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4sm The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is GOOD Judy Thorburn


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4lg The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is GOOD


Beautiful Creatures

Now that the immensely popular Twilight film series has concluded, the movie studios are hoping to fill the niche left open and attract the same target audience that were fans of that franchise in order to bring in mega bucks at the box office.

Beautiful Creatures, based on the first in a series of young adult novels by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohlis,  is the latest of several newly released flicks in that supernatural/romance genre.  

The female lead character is a Caster, as in spellcaster, (they don't like being called witch) whose budding romance with a mortal makes an indelible impact on both their lives.

The story opens with the introduction of high school senior Ethan Wate (Alden Ehrenreich) who has lived in the super conservative, God fearing town of Gatlin, South Carolina his whole life and is eager to get out. Ethan is a rebellious, free thinker who likes to read books by J. D. Salinger, Kurt Vonnegut, Henry Miller and others that have been banned in this backwater town. Lately, he has also been dreaming about a mysterious young woman whose face is always hidden behind her windswept hair.

Things change for Ethan when 15 year old Lena Duchannes (Alice Englert, daughter of filmmaker Jane Campion, and looks like a cross between Emily Blunt and Jennifer Lawrence) arrives in town to stay with her reclusive, protective uncle, family patriach, Macon Ravenwood (Jeremy Irons, unable to hide his British accent), and discover her destiny.

Lena becomes the center of attention in Gatlin, where the townspeople think she and her family are devil worshippers and she is ridiculed and shunned by her classmates.  Ethan, on the other hand, is instantly fascinated and attracted to the dark haired, goth beauty, a fellow misfit, with whom he shares several things in common, although he has no idea just how much.

Lena is about to approach her 16th birthday when she will be victim to a curse on all the women in the Ravenwood clan dating back to her great, great, great grandmother and the Civil War, that is reenacted every year by the townsfolk. Her birthday also coincides with the most powerful solstice in which the greatest energy will be released.  At that time, Lena will be “claimed” by either the dark or light that only her true nature will choose for her.

Lena just wants only to be normal. Trouble enters the scenario when Lena's cousin Ridley (deliciously evil Emma Rossum) a seductive siren that gets a kick out of being a bad girl able to make mortals, especially men, see or do what she wants, shows up to cause interference so that Lena will turn to the dark side like her.  Adding fuel to the fire is Lena's dead mother, Seraphine, a most powerful spirit that lives in the shadows and can take the form of a human mortal, in this case inhabiting the body of the bible thumping church lady Mrs. Lincoln (Emma Thompson, obviously having lots fun hamming it up).

Alden Ehrenreich and Alice Englert deliver effective, engaging performances as the smitten teens.  It helps that the pair have great chemistry.   Viola Davis appears in a supporting but crucial role as Ethan's caretaker and local librarian with access to the history of the Casters. Eileen Atkins and Margo Martindale appear briefly as two other matriarchs in the family, but have little to do.

Writer/director Richard LaGravenese  (The Fisher King,Freedom Writers, P.S. I Love You) lets the story unfold at an evenly pace without bombarding us with an overload of adequate, but less than impressive, special effects.  

I don't know if Beautiful Creatures will be able to capitalize on the void left by Twilight. What I do know and find refreshing is Lena and Alden are written as young, intelligent, fans of literature, that share more than a love connection.  Beautiful Creatures may or may not have what it takes to cast a spell on target audiences. Nevertheless, it still works as a fairly entertaining movie.