When a girl closely resembling the one who has appeared in his recent dreams appears at school, Ethan can hardly believe his eyes. Who is this girl and what is their connection? Review of Beautiful Creatures after jump.
In a town steeped in history, newcomer Lena Duchannes (Alice Englert) and her extended family the Ravenwoods are considered its darkest and most mysterious inhabitants. The Ravenwood family own much of the small town of Gatlin in South Carolina, where they live in a particularly creepy manor set away from prying eyes. They are widely considered to be “devil-worshippers” by the church-devoted residents, and are the subject of much gossip.
When Lena appears at the local school, the town are aghast at seeing a young Ravenwood family member in the community again. An incident at school causes panic among the residents, and they call for her to be removed. Ethan (Alden Ehrenreich) doesn’t share the fear that his schoolmates have of Lena. He sees a shy and beautiful girl – one who has visited him in his dreams and one who he must get to know.
Through Ethan’s perseverance the two soon become very close, much to the displeasure of Lena’s intimidating uncle (Jeremy Irons). Lena hides a secret, one which one her 16th birthday could change her destiny and place her and anyone she loves in great danger. Unwilling to heed the warnings, Ethan decides to help Lena find a way to stop the darkness, and become the master of her own fate.
Beautiful Creatures is adapted from the 2009 fantasy-romance novel of the same name, and is aimed squarely at the teen/tween market. This is not a negative though, as the film achieves exactly what it sets out to be – an entertaining teen romance story set in a small town with a rich history of witches (or Casters as they like to call themselves) and magic. There is definite chemistry between the leads, both of whom are largely likeable characters. Alden Ehrenreich (who bares a striking resemblance to Dane DeHann) is particularly watchable as the charismatic and slightly bumbling, love-struck Ethan.
A strong supporting cast ensures the acting is of a high quality, with Viola Davis playing the town’s wise librarian; Jeremy Irons as the strict and imposing head of the Ravenwood family; and Emma Thompson as rather batty and uptight religious extremist. While the special effects may not have been of the highest quality, the punchy dialogue more than made up for it. The film was littered with excellent one-liners and managed to mostly avoid being too heavy-handed with both magical jargon, and cheesy speeches about love and sacrifice.
The film is not without its faults though, the largest being that despite having a female co-lead, the film still treats woman as if they’re still back in the dark ages. There was an opportunity for a strong female character here, but instead we find one who is surrounded by men who know what is best for her. Granted she’s still young, but why was it the female characters who were the crazy ones? In addition, the film does employ easy romantic clichés in the later stages, and it all becomes a bit familiar.
By Sam McCosh
Director: Richard LaGravenese
Writer(s): Richard LaGravenese (screenplay), Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl (novel)
Starring: Alice Englert, Viola Davis, Emma Thompson, Jeremy Irons, Alden Ehrenreich
Runtime: 124 minutes
Release date(s): Australia & New Zealand: February 21 2013; USA: February 14 2013