Beautiful Creatures Reviews
Alden Ehrenreich and Alice Englert's push-and-pull chemistry is remarkably sensual. Ehrenreich really shines as the squinty shucksidoodles Ethan, exhibiting folksy humor and revealing unexpected depth in the scene where Macon hexes him to plot out his disappointment of a future. Emmy Rossum is also a devilish vixen, especially in her claiming scene. Emma Thompson seems utterly out of place, seeming neither southern enough nor glamorous enough.
Not bad addition to the genre.
While entertaining, "Beautiful Creatures" is also extremely broad, assuming that the South is still ruled by book bannings and Civil War reenactments. And yes this has been compared to the 'Twilight' franchise, of which, I am blissfully unaware of...but the books I'm most interested in are the ones Ethan reads and of which I am always a sucker for.(Yes, no teenager should be reading 'Tropic of Cancer' but that's presuming he can make any sense out of it in the first place.) So, while Alice Englert fares better here than Alden Ehrenreich, it is the grownups, especially Jeremy Irons, Emma Thompson and Emmy Rossum, but also including Viola Davis, Eileen Atkins and Margo Martindale who are the real draw here, especially when they cut loose.
The story follows Ethan (Alden Ehrenreich) a high school boy who has been having dreams about a girl he does not know. A new girl named Lena (Alice Englert) who everyone is scared of since they believe something is wrong with her. When Ethan almost hits her with his car, they begin to bond and start a relationship. That is when she tells him that she is a "caster" which can let her perform magic and will decide her future to be good or evil.
The plot has a lot happening and a lot of things to remember about magic powers and good and evil, and at one point I just stopped worrying about it and stopped trying to confuse myself. I believe that the character of Ethan is supposed to be our audience surrogate, which means we are learning everything about this world just like he is. Sometimes the story hits some good moments but overall I thought it was just silly and couldn't take it seriously. The characters had me intrigued and luckily the performances pull them off perfectly, but they are put into a story where nothing really interesting or new happens. I could predict how many things in this film would play out, and at times some scenes were just too ridiculous to take seriously. It is just a prime example of talented actors who get sucked into the world of Hollywood that only cares about money. However, there is a scene in the film where the two main characters witness a flashback on a movie screen of the Civil War, and this is a point where the film starts to really take itself seriously and this scene really impressed me. This story is still directed toward the female audience, and maybe some men will even enjoy it, but this just showed me another example that Hollywood has trouble showing us anything new or original.
The cast is a talented group of performances that really appreciate their characters and are really the high point of the film. Alden Ehrenreich could've been just a boring and one-dimensional actor with no real purpose in the film, but he rises above that cliché character and gives us something that shows me he could become a very good actor in the future. He has anger, lust, and happiness in him which makes him much more than just a pretty boy. Alice Englert didn't seem like much to me at first, but as the film progresses her performance improves and I really began to like her. We grow to sympathize with her and want her to find happiness. Jeremy Iron is brilliant in this film and stands out as the best actor in the film, due to his anger and believability in his character. He steals every scene with his intensity and edginess, and that is just another example of why he is such a great actor. Viola Davis gives a good performance in the film, but I believe her talent was wasted as her character really wasn't given any stand out scenes. I just believe they should've used her talent more wisely. Emma Thompson plays a brilliant villain and I believed every second of her performance, and I believe every scene with her reminded me of her power as an actress. Thomas Mann and Emmy Rossum also give some interesting performances as well. Overall this is a large cast and they all play great performances, and I enjoyed watching all of them on screen.
Beautiful Creatures seems like it wants to become the next series of fantasy-romance films that will drive the girls wild and make men just roll their eyes, but I just don't know if this film had enough going for itself to continue a series. I am not against this genre just because I am a male, in fact it was the romance in the film that I think was one of the high points, but the story just gets too caught up in magic and curses that I just found the story to be silly. I was impressed by the visuals and the score of the film, espically in the climax which used its budget to its advantage. But these advantages don't fix a story that is meant for teenagers who love young adult novels. Richard LaGravenese wanted to create a film that wouldn't be compared to "Twilight," but the films have so much in common that many critics and audience members are going to compare the two. But I think this film is more mature than "Twilight," and that is due to the better performances, more believable romance, and the greater direction. I cannot tell you if you will like or hate this film because I don't know what your preference is, but I do know that I walked into the theater expecting a complete waste of time and was given something actually a lot better than I expected. Overall I didn't love the film and I personally hope they don't turn it into a series, but if you give this film a chance like I did than you might be pleasantly surprised.
Now that the 'Twilight' saga has been wrapped up and put back in its coffin, Hollywood is desperate for a new fantasy franchise that will appeal to moody teens. It's hard to imagine 'Beautiful Creatures', also based on a series of young-adult novels, taking the place of the vampire saga. While the central premise of a teen facing a huge life change on her sixteenth birthday may be something young adults can identify with, the story as a whole lacks direction. The film veers wildly from brooding drama to comedy; the youthful leads seem to be taking things a lot more seriously than the likes of Irons, Rossum and Thompson, who opt for a far more campy, over the top approach.
The 'Twilight' franchise, in both book and movie form, has been heavily criticized for being little more than a far right Christian recruitment campaign. For much of 'Beautiful Creatures', you could be forgiven for believing it a secular alternative to the more popular series. Religious types are portrayed as intolerant wackos and the lead character Ethan describes the library as his "place of worship, full of all that's holy - ideas". By the end, however, he has been convinced of the error of his ways and finds himself joining a church congregation. I guess Hollywood doesn't care too much for the secular dollar.
It gives an adequate amount of background information and delivers on some often well-rounded characterization, as I'll go more into later, and yet, something feels thin about this film's expository depth, which really doesn't explore too much in the way of, well, depth, failing to be meaty enough in flesh-out for the story and characters to truly lock in your investment, which is further shaken by some histrionics. Don't worry, people, because this film's melodrama is hardly anywhere close to the level of a Nicholas Sparks book, let alone a Stephanie Meyer book that it occasionally appears to want to be, but it's still romantic, young adult fare, and only so much can be done to keep moments of cheesiness at bay. Needless to say, the relatively less genuine moments in this film's dramatic intrigue would be easier to forgive if the melodramatic beats weren't so familiar, much like many other aspects in the final product, which isn't trite, but is decidedly rather conventional, and more so than it probably should be, meeting every reasonably refreshing moment in storytelling with a barrage of tropes that range from easy to shrug off to almost cornily disconcerting. Before too long, things devolve into predictability, which does damage to intrigue and betrays the, albeit moderate, but still undeniably present potential for relative uniqueness that could have carried this film a long way, but ends up falling a bit short, along with too many other aspects of the film. I went into this film expecting just another lame "Twilight" rip-off, but ended up finding a relievingly decent effort, backed by genuine inspiration and substance, yet the final product would have been more if it didn't meet every moment of inspiration with a watered down spell, for although the film rarely, if ever dilutes into the mediocrity that has conquered lesser films of its nature, it doesn't take too many chances, with such small aspects as the mainly lame mainstream soundtrack being tainted with overstylized touches, while such more major aspects as subtlety fail to go all that thoroughly explored. Against my expectations, the film hits more often than it doesn't, but it does, in fact, face its fair share of misses, which are just prevalent enough for the final product to meander along, until finally sputtering out as kind of underwhelming. Still, as flawed as the film is, when it works, as it often does, it hits just hard enough to win you over as decent, or, at the very least, technically impressive.
I reckon the version whose excerpts were used in the marketing campaign didn't have time to touch up its technical touches all that much, because not even the effects looked all that good in the trailers, but when it comes to the final product, while they're not exactly stellar, the effects are strong, being lively and dynamic, with enough slickness in their gelling with the film's environment to compliment the effectiveness of the selling of this world, particularly during the impressive action sequences. Sure, like the effects that compliment them, the action sequences in this film are rarely, if ever truly mind-blowing, no matter how much your appreciation is augmented by their being rather underused, but when spectacle comes along, it thrills, thanks to technical skill and slick style, which isn't to say that substance isn't worthy of some complimenting in here. Like I said, Kami Garcia's and Margaret Stohl's story concept is flawed, hitting plenty of tropes and certain other storytelling hiccups, but at the end of the day, there is some potential to this intriguing, if a bit formulaic fanatasy tale, whose full depths go a bit underexplored in the final product, but still done a fair degree of justice by plenty of areas within Richard LaGravenese's script, which turns in plenty of surprisingly sharp moments in dialogue, as well as characterization that stands to be more thoroughly fleshed out, yet remains well-rounded enough to earn your investment in the individuals who drive this character piece and are themselves further driven by engaging acting. Okay, first off, I must tell you that this is an accent-tastic, South-set, and that I am one proud southerner who has heard plenty of natural accents from around this slice of 'Merica, so I'm going to be the first to tell you yankees that not all of these southern accents work, ranging from offputting to near-laughable, yet still somehow never getting to be so questionable that you can't get used to them, largely thanks to their being backed by performances that are otherwise quite convincing, with Jeremy Irons and the unevenly used Emma Thompson, two of the handful of talents who boast a convincing deep South accent (Seriously, Californians, these people aren't even American and they have a better idea of how we southerners sound), being commandingly effective and sometimes even unpredictably layered, while the up-and-coming young leads, the handsome Alden Ehrenreich and the very pretty Alice Englert, show considerable promise through the occasional effective dramatic touch to break up consistent near-exceeding charm, augmented when bonded into crackling chemistry. The performances aren't too outstanding, but they are much better than you expected, if you can get past the accent shortcomings that is, having just enough inspiration to compel to a certain degree, much like a certain rather inspired offscreen performance. LaGravenese, as director, certainly stands to do and explore more, but when he goes the extra mile to flesh things out, he delivers on a glimpse of what could have been that replenishes your investment, sometimes through genuine resonance, often through intrigue and consistently through entertainment value. LaGravenese's lively efforts could be livelier, yet there is enough meat to directorial storytelling to product a final product that, while flawed and a bit watered down, surprises as genuinely decent, with enough entertainment value and other high points to win you ever, even if you won't walk away all-out rewarded.
When the spell is broken, you're left walking away from a reaonsably promising effort whose expository shortcomings, conventionalism and subtlety issues go into composing the perhaps intentional lazy spells that drive the final product into a watered down, rather underwhelming state, but not so deeply that you can't ultimately find a film that is surprisingly quite decent, as there is enough competence to technical value and style, as well as enough meat to substance, - carried by a decent script, strong cast and generally inspired directorial performance - to make Richard LaGravenese's adaptation of Kami Garcia's and Margaret Stohl's "Beautiful Creatures" a watch that may fall short of potential, but boasts enough high points and entertainment value to keep you going.
2.5/5 - Fair
Meanwhile I will definitely read the books.
The story was OK. It became quite predictable by using some of the same cliches that we've already seen before like in Twilight, but it got me interested especially towards the end of this flick. There are some times where the exposition throughout the film is a bit too much for my tastes.
Flaws aside, this film does have some good qualities. The cinematography is brilliant and the scenery of South Carolina is beautiful to look at. The direction is above-decent and the music score is surprisingly good. The special effects are pretty good too and the golden eyes effect is the perfect highlight. The dialog is pretty smart and mixes melodrama and campy humor pretty well throughout the film.
The best part, however, would have to go to the cast. Emma Thompson as Serafine sometimes overacts, but by golly was she enjoyable; Emmy Rossum did a nice job as the foxy Ridley, Viola Davis did very good as Amma and Jeremy Irons (the famous actor from The Lion King, Eragon, etc.) did a fantastic job as the menacing and edgy Macon Ravenwood. However, the best characters would have to go to the two main protagonists. Alden Enrenreich did an amazing job as the charismatic Ethan Wate while Alice Englert is a perfect Lena Duchannes, thus making them a much likable duo than Bella and Edward from Twilight.
Overall, I have yet to read the book it was based on and I understood all the hatred this flick had, but despite it's own problems, Beautiful Creatures is a pretty good fantasy romance flick that is way better than the Twilight movies and I think would be recommended to those who haven't seen it yet.