Movie review – Beautiful Creatures
– by Julia Brown
Beautiful Creatures is not as bad as one might assume. Which may not sound like a ringing endorsement, but considering that I am personally way outside the film’s intended tween/teen audience demographic, you could interpret the fact that I did not want to flee the theatre halfway through as high praise indeed.
The movie is based on the first book of the same name in a young adult fiction series called the Caster Chronicles by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. That means, of course, that this film is only the beginning of a series as well; after all, we are living in the post-Twilight Saga era, where Hollywood producers are hip to what makes young, mostly female audience members hearts flutter (the film industry also gets the boyfriends as part of the deal, since they invariably get dragged to opening night).
What is especially clever, film-marketing-wise, is that the relatively unknown stars (Alice Englert as witchy female lead Lena and Alden Ehrenreich as her beau and mere mortal Ethan) are bolstered by better-established actors. The fairly impressive supporting cast lends an air of legitimacy to the film that it otherwise would lack. I mean, if Emma Thompson, Jeremy Irons and Emmy Rossum agreed to be a part of the whole deal, how bad can it be?
Again, it’s not that bad. For one thing, the ending is not your typical Hollywood ending. Lena as a character also has more in common with the Girl Power goths in 1996’s The Craft than Bella in the Twilight series. In one scene she takes on the mean girls in her school by shattering the classroom windows through the power of her mind and/or emotions. Wimpy and passive Lena is not.
The references to various classic works of literature are also integrated nicely into Beautiful Creatures. Ethan is stuck in a small, conservative Southern town, and by reading certain “banned” books he opens the door to a larger world – a world where anything is possible, including the likes of Lena.
Sure, the supernatural elements of the story are a bit cheesy and the romance between the lead characters predictably star-crossed. But neither element drowns the film in the shallow end, which is an accomplishment that many films aimed at adult audiences cannot boast.
If supernatural teen romance films are not your preferred film genre, you should probably give Beautiful Creatures a pass. However, if you have a teenager you’d like to drag to the movies, or you are a teen yourself, it is definitely one of your least-worst options for Valentine’s Day entertainment.