Beautiful Creatures: Not Just Twilight with Witches

imagesLike me, many of you probably had the same reaction upon seeing the first trailers for Beautiful Creatures:  it’s just Twilight with Witches.  With the vacuum left by Stephanie Meyers shamefully successful “saga” it comes as no surprise that Hollywood has been grooming suitors to bring in the same young adult (and not-so-young adult) audiences that made the franchise such a success.  While The Hunger Games has so far been the biggest name to fill that void, no other project has so blatantly clung to Twlight’s coattails as Beautiful Creatures has.  It might have worked, too, if it weren’t for a fatal error on Warner Bros’ part;  Scheduling the movie for a Valentines Day release in direct competition with Nicholas Sparks’ Safe Haven.  While a Valentines Day release for a youth-skewing romance may have seemed like a good idea at some point in time, the movie’s horrendous weekend gross at the box office shows just how much of the movie’s target audience was taken away by it’s romantic competitor.  The real shame is, despite all of its genre cliches and its predictable plot,  a surprisingly sharp script and some expectedly great performances from an illustrious supporting cast make it a real shame that we’ll never see a sequel to Beautiful creatures

The Plot:

Witch puberty is WAAAAAYYY worse than normal puberty

Witch puberty is WAAAAAYYY worse than normal puberty

Ethan longs to escape his small Southern town. He meets a mysterious new girl, Lena. Together, they uncover dark secrets about their respective families, their history and their town.

The plot is by far the weakest point of the film.  The star-crossed lovers track has been tread so many times before that the addition of any sort of supernatural being, be it vampires or zombies or witches, wouldn’t be enough to spice things up on its own.  You can make your characters as great as you like, but unless you take the plot of a movie in a direction that the audience can’t see coming a mile away, you’re not going to end up with anything but an average-feeling movie.

The Players:

Finally, a short, square-jawed love interest

Finally, a short, square-jawed love interest

Ethan Wate (Alden Ehrenreich) is probably the biggest thing that separates Beautiful Creatures from the Twilight saga as he is NOT a pale, brooding douche.  Instead, Ethan’s character is built on a combination of Southern charm, awkward tenacity and an unflappable desire to escape from the cultural black hole that is the town of Gatlin, South Carolina.  I’ll admit that Ehrenreich overacts a bit from time to time, especially when he’s going for comedy, but the sort of frustrated adoration he is able to convey for Lena is one of the only things that makes the romantic angle of the film bearable.

No Sequel for Ethan and Lena :(

No Sequel for Ethan and Lena 😦

Lena (Alice Englert), on the other hand, occasionally verges on overly-moody but so are 15 year olds.  If you’re watching this though, you’re probably aware of the fact that teenagers are mostly self-obsessed, immature and overly emotional, so those character flaws won’t stick out as much.  It definitely helps that she’s given some of the best zings of the movie, though truth be told making fun of Southerners is a bit like shooting fish in a barrel.  In any case, I did appreciate that the feeling of not belonging shared by the two leads led to an understandable basis for their romance.  Lena is a new kid in town, prematurely outcast by her demonized family name, while Ethan and his fondness for banned books seems to be the only kid in school who has any desire to expand his horizons.

So unrealistic... Nobody that pale can survive in The South

So unrealistic… Nobody that pale can survive in The South

Aside from the superiority of its two romantic leads, another factor Beautiful Creatures has over Twilight is a much stronger supporting cast.  Emma Thompson and Jeremy Irons  are particularly worthy of attention, respectively as Lena’s Dark Caster mother and her reclusive yet kindhearted uncle Macon.  Thompson basically plays two characters, one the bible pounding mother of Ethan’s friend Link (Thomas Mann in his second Witch-featuring movie in less than a month) and the other the Dark Caster Sarafine who fills the role as villain #1.  I for one have never been anything less than impressed with a performance I’ve seen from Thompson, and while she’s a bit over the top at times she still manages to hit the right notes of flamboyant evil to make the character work.  Villain #2, on the other hand, is filled by an oddly chosen return to the silver screen by Phantom of the Opera‘s Emily Rossum as Lena’s cousin Ridley.  I really wanted to like Rossum, but she’s far to overly dramatic and hyper-sexualized here to make much of an impact.

Macon... is... FABULOUS!!!

Macon… is… FABULOUS!!!

Looking to the good guys instead, Irons was my favorite character in the film, resulting from a combination of the actor’s inherent awesomeness and the propensity for verbal beat-downs he shares with his niece.  Between this and Eragon though, the man doesn’t seem to have very good luck in picking profitable young adult franchises  He’s helped out by Amma (Viola Davis), Ethan’s housekeeper and Caster Librarian.  I love Viola Davis as well, but she really isn’t given that much to do here.

The Writing:

The final and most noticeable factor which sets Beautiful Creatures aside from Twilight is the fact that writing isn’t just not terrible, it’s actually very entertaining from time to time. Sure, the story is bland and the characters are fairly straightforward, but the dialogue those characters are given makes a very strong effort to be witty and ends up succeeding most of the time.  Of course, the “Most of the time” means there are quite a few intentionally funny lines that try way too hard (which isn’t helped by Ehrenreich’s occasionally hammy performance), but I’d rather have a movie’s script try to sparkle and succeed occasionally than not try at all.

The Verdict:  6.5/10  –  Perfectly Adequate

+ Likable leads, at least by genre standards

+ Great supporting cast led by Thompson and Irons

+ A sharp script featuring enough snappy dialogue to entertain between req. plot points

– Incredibly predictable & cliche plot (might be a deal-breaker for some)

Critical Consensus:

Rotten Tomatoes:

IMDb: 6.1/10

Metacritic: 51/100

Other Reviews:

The Code is Zeek: 3.5/5

im a movie nerd: “This is what “Twilight” should have been … good campy fun.”

My Reel POV:  [I’ve outgrown it a little, but still enjoyed it]

Fogs’ Movie Reviews: D

About r361n4

I'm a student at the University of Washington Majoring Business. I've always loved movies and my goal is to work on the financial side of the film industry. Until then though, I figure I'll spare my friends from my opinions and shout them from a digital mountaintop for anyone who's interested. After all, if a tree falls in a forest and nobody blogs about it, does it really happen?
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18 Responses to Beautiful Creatures: Not Just Twilight with Witches

  1. Yeah, I’m just not anywhere near you on this one buddy. LOL. I didnt care for the leads, I thought the writing was dull, and while I appreciated the cast outside of the leads (Davis, Irons, etc) they were nowhere near enough to overcome the material. 😦

    • r361n4 says:

      Well, it would be weird if we agreed on everything after all. I understand your reasons for disliking it but I guess none of them bothered me that much aside form the plot. Oh well, as I said we shant be seeing any more of this one with its kind of box office numbers

  2. mettelray says:

    It is so weird to write but I actually liked Twilight book wise more than Beautiful Creatures, so I hope the movie kind of made it better. But also, I’ve maybe grown up so.. who knows. Anyway, while reading, I kind of tried to imagine the characters and well, Irons was the only one that popped into my head. He seems perfectly cast. I’m not sure about the leads but Emmy as well seems fitting for the role.

  3. Beer Movie says:

    Nice review. I thought this looked dire and had absolutely no interest in seeing this. But I watched the Australian At the Movies last night and Margaret and David were surprisingly quite positive about it. That, and your review, have me considering taking a look at the film.

    • r361n4 says:

      Honestly, by most standards it’s mediocre but it definitely far exceeded my expectations so I ended up being okay with it. I’d say wait for the DVD

  4. DStarB says:

    Thanks for having the stones to go see this one…I just couldn’t let myself do it. And, btw, not to burst your bubble or anything but, as I used to live in the south, I have actually come across some pretty pale people in my time and they’ve at least made it through high school

    • r361n4 says:

      lol, nice. If it doesn’t look like something you’d be interested you’re probably right, but it’s definitely nowhere near as bad as it could have been.

  5. barronlouise says:

    Great review, but no plan seeing this, but if someone would treat me then okay 🙂 hahaha, im sick of hearing twilight, it’s over!

  6. ruth says:

    I had the same reaction when I saw the trailer but it’s actually better than Twilight, though it’s not saying much as I still don’t think it’s a good film. At least the Ethan character is not so darn morose though, he’s actually quite funny.

  7. a fine defense here, but I still won’t be spending my time watching this one. I was a little disappointed seeing Jeremy Irons and Viola Davis in this one, much like I was with Gary Oldman in Red Riding Hood. A good review and good point on the 2 young lovers having a common ground…that adds to the credibility of the story for sure.

    • r361n4 says:

      It’s definitely not one I’d fight for to get you or anyone else to watch, but if you had to sit through it it wouldn’t be as painful as you’d think

  8. Pingback: Book Review: Beautiful Creatures | Mettel Ray Movie Blog

  9. Pingback: LAMBScores: A Beautiful Day To Die Hard | The Large Association of Movie Blogs

  10. Pingback: February Wrap-Up: Thank God for Spring | Rorschach Reviews

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