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Review: Beautiful Creatures

Feb. 11, 2013by: Chris Bumbray
PLOT: Ethan (Alden Ehrenreich) is about to re-enter high school after his mothers tragic death. A sensitive soul, longing to escape his small town of Gatlin, his world is rocked by the arrival of Lena Duchannes (Alice Englert) - the mysterious niece of Macon Ravenwood (Jeremy Irons), whose family owns most of the land the town is built on. Ridiculed by her conservative classmates, Lena finds an ally in Ethan - but, Lena harbors a secret. Shes the descendant of a long line of casters- whose power of spells and sorcery has made them feared outcasts. On her rapidly approaching sixteenth birthday, Lena will either be claimed by the dark or the light line of casters, and both battle over her power.

REVIEW: With the TWILIGHT saga coming to an end, many wanna-be franchises will be battling for a piece of TWILIGHTs business. This months entry is BEAUTIFUL CREATURES, adapted from the young adult novel by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. There's a whole series of these books, so I imagine Warner Bros., is hoping for a franchise.

To me, BEAUTIFUL CREATURES is too bland to warrant that. Running a lengthy 124 minutes, director/co-screenwriter Richard LaGravenese tries to pack a lot of plot into his film, introducing us to this world of casters, which is divided into good and bad sides. The good is represented by Jeremy Irons as Uncle Macon- who, despite being predisposed to being dark has chosen light, which- for a reason that's never really explained, is something only male casters can do. The dark is represented by a wildly over-the-top Emma Thompson as Serafine, and her prodigy, Ridley, played by Emmy Rossum.

The first half of BEAUTIFUL CREATURES actually isn't half bad. LaGravenese opts for this wildly over-the-top vibe, with the southern townsfolk coming off as caricatures right out of THE MUSIC MAN. Usually this silly approach would turn me off, but it works in this kind of heightened reality. The performances, especially by the gonzo Thompson, and an occasionally hammy Irons (his Foghorn Leghorn accent doesn't help) seem deliberately overboard, as does the set design- with the interior of Irons' house looking like it was lifted out of BEETLEJUICE. Still, rather than being a turn-off, it feels almost refreshing considering how downbeat and morose TWILIGHT was.

Most importantly, the two teens are decent, with Ehrenreich making a likable protagonist, and Englert hitting the right notes as the outcast sorceress (who, as if we didn't know she was a rebel, reads Charles Bukowski for fun). The real trouble starts to set in about an hour into the movie, once LaGravenese switches his focus to the central conflict, which is whether or not Lena is going to go dark. Most of the second hour is spent trying to find a way to prevent that from happening, which leads to loads of boring exposition and scenes of people looking through ancient spell books- that might have been fun on the page, but is deadly dull in a film. Things liven up a bit when Rossum shows up as a siren-like baddie, with designs on Ethan, but she's not given enough of a part to really make an impression (although a scene where she slinks around in Rita Hayworth's dress from GILDA has her looking incredibly sexy).

Even worse, we're expected to buy into this star-crossed romance between Ehrenreich and Englert, and while separate they're pretty good, together that have no chemistry whatsoever. There's simply no passion, and their relationship is something I imagine an audience will have a hard time investing in. Viola Davis gets a part as the local librarian with a secret (oooooh), but she has very little to do- which is a shame. Meanwhile, there's an ok soundtrack by a presumably fashionable indie band, preciously named Thenewno2 (that's right- no spaces), which, a talkbacker below pointed out, is fronted by Dhanni Harrison, son of late-Beatle George. To me the music was fairly wallpaper-ish, but there were a couple of decent songs.

However, I fully realize that I'm not the target audience for a movie like BEAUTIFUL CREATURES, which is clearly meant for tween girls. That's the audience Warner Bros., will need to corner if this is going to be a viable franchise, but to me it seems far too bland to make it that far. It's not atrociously bad, but despite a promising start, it's nothing you haven't seen done a million times before. Maybe the books are a fun read for kids, but the movie is pretty dull.

Source: JoBlo.com

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1:55AM on 02/12/2013
Could give two shits about this film but damn does Emmy Rossum look hot in the above pic
Could give two shits about this film but damn does Emmy Rossum look hot in the above pic
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3:32PM on 02/11/2013
The trailer looked dull if not outright bad, and the film WAS dumped in February and against the new Die Hard no less. While I realize that the new Die Hard really isn't at the top of everyone's list, I can't see anyone but tweens desperate for a new Twilight franchise going into this. Emmy Rossum is about the most interesting thing the film has going for it, but that's not enough. And while I, too, am not the target audience, this seems like another time waster even for the kiddies.
The trailer looked dull if not outright bad, and the film WAS dumped in February and against the new Die Hard no less. While I realize that the new Die Hard really isn't at the top of everyone's list, I can't see anyone but tweens desperate for a new Twilight franchise going into this. Emmy Rossum is about the most interesting thing the film has going for it, but that's not enough. And while I, too, am not the target audience, this seems like another time waster even for the kiddies.
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12:35PM on 02/11/2013

Looks like a Twilight clone

Pass it indeed.
Pass it indeed.
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11:03AM on 02/11/2013
I saw a clip from this movie with Emmy Rossum and the whole thing, from the scene itself to her acting, was terrible.
I saw a clip from this movie with Emmy Rossum and the whole thing, from the scene itself to her acting, was terrible.
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7:46AM on 02/11/2013
Emmy Rossum is 10/10 for me.
Emmy Rossum is 10/10 for me.
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1:48AM on 02/11/2013
That "fashionable" band is fronted by Dhani Harrison (son of late Beatle, George). They have been out for awhile and are far from fashionable. Quite popular actually in the indie rock scene. Although, it is a bit hipster for my taste, it fits the film. Not standing up for the band by any means but simple research seems to be forgotten lately here at this site.
That "fashionable" band is fronted by Dhani Harrison (son of late Beatle, George). They have been out for awhile and are far from fashionable. Quite popular actually in the indie rock scene. Although, it is a bit hipster for my taste, it fits the film. Not standing up for the band by any means but simple research seems to be forgotten lately here at this site.
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12:27AM on 02/11/2013
Ironically I finished the novel today and really liked it...so it's a shame, but I'm not 100% shocked. There was a lot of stuff on the page that I knew would not translate to film, so I guess I was sadly right :/ I'll probably still see it, as I did enjoy the novel.
Ironically I finished the novel today and really liked it...so it's a shame, but I'm not 100% shocked. There was a lot of stuff on the page that I knew would not translate to film, so I guess I was sadly right :/ I'll probably still see it, as I did enjoy the novel.
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