Releases: Feb. 14
“Beautiful Creatures” is a watered concoction of Twilight, Harry Potter and elements of Gothic all mixed together. The Romeo and Juliet-forbidden love theme is completely present with a few laughs and some levels of cheesiness.
Alden Ehrenreich plays the main character, Ethan. His costar, Alice Englert, plays his love interest, Lena.
The film takes the same overused forbidden love theme of the Twilight series. This time, though, the roles are reversed: Lena plays the dangerous and mysterious girlfriend, while Ehrenreich plays the head over heels guy who cannot get out from under her spell, pun intended.
The film takes place in the small town of Gatlin, S.C., where morals are highly valued, religion is brought up more than once and banned books are frowned upon.
Ethan is a high school senior that is ready to leave small-town life and explore the spontaneity outside of Gatlin, until he meets Lena Duchannes, the mysterious new girl that is thought to be of demonic nature and turns his life into a dangerous, but addictive thrill.
Lena is object of gossip at school, but mainly because the town believes she and her family are devil worshipers and by default unholy and cursed. The whole town plots to get her kicked out of school, and even the students contribute through bullying and rumors.
Ethan is the only one who really takes to being her friend and, later, her love interest, but at a high cost that almost ends up killing him.
One scene in particular that expresses the core beliefs of the people that live in this town and the potential danger Lena poses is when Ethan’s snarky ex-girlfriend, played by Zoey Deutch, starts praying in the classroom in order to draw attention to and bully Lena. A nice special effect occurs ─ without the use of CGI ─ when all of a sudden the windows shatter into a million pieces, a byproduct of Lena’s rage.
Without the use of CGI, all the other effects in the film are naturally not very realistic, but they are justified through the storyline’s main magical element.
Although Emmy Rossum, who plays Ridley Duchannes, claimed that the acting was probably more legitimate and believable from the characters because of the filming techniques employed, this was not always the case. The two main leads needed more character development before they found this “undying” love for each other. The chemistry was not always there, and for a few beats, the relationship between them felt too forced and fake. However, as the movie progressed and the momentum picked up, the audience couldn’t help but feel sympathy for the two “star-crossed” lovers.
For those who haven’t read the book, the plot is not always predictable, which serves as an effective tool to keep the movie engaging. The involvement of supporting characters of Viola Davis (“The Help”), Jeremy Irons (“The Man in the Iron Mask”) and Emma Thompson (the Harry Potter film series) did not do much for the film dramatically. The altercation involving Lena’s future as a witch, between Thompson and Irons, who play Lena’s guardians, comes off as incongruous and comical when it was supposed to serve as a dramatic effect.
Multiple impractical plot points were present, but director Richard LaGravenese did the best he could with the material provided him. He kept the story moving and added some suspense.
The film ends with a cliffhanger, which is an indication that other movies will fill in the hole. Even if the audience didn’t read the books or come with a biased mindset, they will most likely be returning for more to see what became of Lena and Ethan’s relationship.
“Beautiful Creatures” opens on Valentine’s Day and is a good flick for young adult fantasy fans who simply cannot wait for the next “Hunger Games” installment.
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