Beautiful Creatures Review (Robert Harding)

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Directed by Richard LaGravenese

Starring Alice Englert, Viola Davis, Emma Thompson

Move over Sabrina, there’s a new teenage witch in the house.  But is she on the side of the dark or light? To find out, you’ll have to watch the movie. Beautiful Creatures is based on the novel of the same name written by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl which is the first book in the Caster Chronicles series.

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Ethan is much too intelligent for his small town and is looking forward to the day where he can leave its sheltered borders for something bigger. When a mysterious new girl named Lena moves to town he is immediately drawn to her despite her families sordid past. Together, they uncover dark secrets about their families, themselves and their town.

Beautiful Creatures is geared towards the young adult crowd with a heavy leaning towards the female gender so it’s very easily compared to Twilight.  Both films involve a supernatural love story but Beautiful Creatures does a much better job of selling the relationship. While still feeling a little rushed, Beautiful Creatures establishes a previous attraction between the two main characters. This allows them to be drawn to each other above and beyond the normal sense and when you add the fact that both are outsiders of a sort, it just makes the relationship all that more plausible.

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Where the story weakens is in the films “breakup.” When a movie devotes time to  bringing two characters together so that the audience believes in the relationship you would expect that when something tears them apart  there would be a big emotional reaction. But the most expected and recognised responses are not what we’re given. In fact, there isn’t much of a reaction at all. This eventually results in a climax that lacks the potential impact it could have otherwise had.

Aside from the breakup, the film does a decent job of telling the story. It could have been a little longer in length and fleshed out the subplots a little better but they weren’t exactly necessary to tell the overall story. The lack of explanation with regards to the various subplots meant that the film feels a little rushed and it tends to jump from one point to the next without a smooth transition.

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I did enjoy the casting in this film. Filled with mostly unknowns and giving almost everyone a down to earth look instead of trying to use sex to sell the film meant that it had a more realistic tone (at least for a supernatural witch movie). Of course this might seem odd for a film called Beautiful Creatures but all is not lost for those looking for a little sex appeal. Emmy Rossum playing the role of Ridley Duchannes not only looks fantastic but does her fair share of adding a little eroticism to an otherwise “Christian” film.

Beautiful Creatures isn’t perfect and is likely missing a great deal of detail from the novel but it was much better than expected. Learning from previous films aimed at the same audience, it has a more believable love story all while tossing some FX heavy scenes into the mix to add some thrills to the drama.  The film may not fulfill all expectations but it does justice to enough of them to entertain. And like all good films of this nature, Beautiful Creatures leaves a little something come the end. Just enough to tease the audience. Sequel? There are more novels to pull from aren’t there?

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