Feeling pretty full from a Nando’s I sat down in the cinema last night to watch Beautiful Creatures and was really looking forward to it. I think there has been some scepticism surrounding this film due to its romantic, magical airy-fairy nature. But I am a self proclaimed lover of fantasy stories, Stardust, Snow White and the Huntsman, Harry Potter, Chronicles of Narnia, Twilight Saga, Pan’s Labyrinth etc. so I thought this film would be right up my street. But did it cut the mustard?!
The synopsis I found on Wikipedia is pretty spot and I couldn’t have put it better myself… “When newcomer Lena Duchannes arrives in the small town of Gatlin, she quickly captures the attention of Ethan Wate, who only wants to escape what he views as a boring and dead-end town. He quickly gets more than he bargained for, as Lena possesses strange powers that have long kept her at a distance from others in her life. Lena and Ethan are drawn together, but their budding romance is threatened by the dangers posed by Lena and her family’s Dark powers, for upon her sixteenth birthday she must undergo the Claiming, a process that will decide her fate forever: Light or Dark”
Well it’s safe to say that screen writer and director Richard LaGravenese is a romantic at heart with previous titles such as PS. I Love You and Water for Elephants, but what about making magic and fantasy effortlessly interwoven? That’s the key to a good fantasy in my opinion, the ridiculous-ness of the super-natural has to feel natural in the world for the audience to be truly immersed in the story. Unfortunately for Beautiful Creatures this was it’s biggest let down due to some really shoddy CGI. There were some excellent scenes where the special effects brought the magic to life, i.e. when Ethan tries to get through a protection spell and keeps being thrown back and almost swallowed by roots from the earth. But then in the next scene would be a cheap looking green screen that completely took me out of the experience. Or the moving stone animals in the library which looked silly and seemed unnecessary (I guess this was taken from the book but it didn’t translate well on screen). You could say this is a minor quibble but special effects in most new films are pretty spectacular so this was a let down for me.
HOWEVER, from now on I have pretty much nothing but good things to say about Beautiful Creatures. I really enjoyed the story, but the cast were especially good. Alice Englert plays the lead role of Lena, who I have to say was my least favourite as I did find her face annoying, but she was quirky and sullen so suited the role pretty perfectly. The chemistry she had with Alden Ehrenreich playing Ethan was electric, the pair really made a beautiful teenage romance. My only quarm is that they were actually really raunchy (at one point Ethan takes Lena on the bonnet of a car!) and their relationship perhaps felt a little too mature to be just 16 and 15 years old. But hey, maybe at the ripe old age of 23 I am being prudish!! Despite this I became very emotionally attached to the couple and thought they portrayed star crossed lovers with ease. Even better than Stewart and Pattinson if I were to be so bold!! (Perhaps because Englert has an actual personality, and Ehrenreich is naturally charming).
But I digress… Jeremy Irons is also very good in this film, although he dips in and out of a southern drawl I really liked his character. Macon Ravenwood, Lena’s uncle, who chose to switch from the Dark to the Light in order to protect his niece from her evil mother/his estranged sister. Although whenever I hear him all I can see is Scars sinister looking face, he gradually became a really lovable character and by the end he is a hero. Another face that grew on me was Emmy Rossum playing Lena’s cousin who was chosen for the Dark on her sixteenth birthday, a path which she also hoped for Lena. I found her quite enchanting and hope to see her in something else soon.
The real star of the show though for me is Emma Thompson. She plays a fanatically religious woman of the small town of Gatlin who is possessed by Lena’s mother Sarafine. Thompson effortlessly switches from the preaching woman to the mad Caster Sarafine in the blink of an eye. It is easy to spot which character is on screen just by her face and body language. Also, Emma – looking pretty damn shexy! Made a nice change from the frumpy motherly character and really showed off her brilliant talent.
The small town, southern american feel of Beautiful Creatures was really drawing me in. I love the accent and the setting was really picturesque. But I could sympathise with Ethan’s lust to get out of there and see the world, I just wanted him to take Lena with him! I might have to read the next book if there is one because I am intrigued to see where the story will lead upon the films end. If I were 15 this film would have been the best thing since The Craft, unfortunately I think I have ever so slightly grown out of teenage apocalyptic love, but I still very much enjoyed immersing myself in the magical world of Beautiful Creatures.
Tagged: alden ehrenreich, alice englert, beautiful creatures, blog, cinema, critic, emma thompson, emmy rossum, fantasy romance, film, film blogger, films, jeremy irons, love, movie, review, romance, valentines film