I do believe that I've made my feelings known on the Twilight franchise throughout the years, at least the films. I haven't, nor do I plan to, read any of the books. I've always felt that Twilight was one of the worst, most poorly-conceived supernatural "romance" stories of all time. Bella Swan is an insufferable and useless character that needs a boyfriend in order to feel like she's worth something. There's a scene in one of the movies where she sits in a chair in her room looking out her window for SEASONS because Edward left her. Not to mention the fact that the reason Bella falls in love with both Edward and Jacob are so completely and utterly shallow. She falls in love with Edward because he glitters in the sunlight. And she only notices Jacob once she takes off his shirt and shows off a rocking bod. It's shit, has been shit and will always been shit. As a result of Twilight's success, however, you knew that there would be a rash of similar stories (vampires were really popular for a while). This movie, released a year after the final film in the Twilight saga, was clearly released to fill that supernatural romance void left by the end of that terrible franchise. I'm always hesitant when I see films like this (or The Host, Mortal Instruments) simply because of the reason that they were made. Perhaps that's not fair of me to presume on the quality of a movie just because of the reasons it was made. Having said all of that, and I had no expectations from this whatsoever, this movie is...ok, at best. Part of me is struggling with whether I give this 2 or 2.5 stars. I guess we'll see as this goes on, sometimes I decide the score as I'm writing the review. The film will, obviously, be compared to Twilight, and they're looking for that same demographic. As far as the comparisons go, there's no real competition. This is head and shoulders above Twilight in every conceivable level. Twilight is like a teenage girl took her wet dream and wrote it down in as unskilled a manner as is humanly possible. This movie, on the other hand, while not without its flaws, feels like such a more carefully constructed and well-thought out world. I'm far more interested in the universe these characters inhabit. So, as far as world-building goes, while this is not on Marvel's level, they still do a decent job at introducing the characters, their personalities and their motivations. But, and there's always a but, there's some clear flaws with this film that cannot be overlooked. First things first, the film's narrative is honestly quite the mess. They do a good enough job as establishing Lena (and her family, the Ravenwoods) as people that the rest of the town (Gatlin) does not trust and believe to be in 'bed' with the devil. They also do a good enough job at establishing the romance between Lena and Ethan, their chemistry is so much better than Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson's in Twilight, those two were both black holes of charisma at the time. And Kristen and Robert were legitimately a couple. Anyway, while their romance isn't really explored in depth, I can see how they'd be so intensely attracted to one another. Where the film falls apart, to me, is everything else to be honest. Lena, it is revealed later, comes from this long family of casters. Or witches, if that's easier for you to follow. Anyway, these casters go through this rite of passage, as it were, when they turn 16. They choose whether they'll be light or dark (good and evil, put simply). The male casters get to choose their side, but the female casters' true nature is what decides what side they'll join. This is simple enough to follow, no issues with that. The problems come in once they introduce this angle that a caster can never fall in love with a mortal as a result of this curse that one of Lena's distant relatives caused by bringing her loved one back from the dead. This is where the issues start, because they never make it clear exactly why this curse exists or how it actually works. They do a piss poor job of justifying this curse within its own context. Like I had no clue what exactly would go wrong if Lena fell in love with a mortal and she joined the dark or something. Not to mention the whole subplot of Sarafine, Lena's mother, manipulating Lena to get her to join their side. The idea being that once Lena turns 16, she'll be the most powerful caster in recent memory so, naturally, Sarafine wants her to join the dark so they can rule together...or something. Again, that's something else that's never made entirely clear. And there's another angle to this curse, that's nothing more than a plot device and not an actual thing that's truly relevant to the narrative, and that is that the only way to end the curse is for a loved one to die. This, obviously, implies Ethan would have to die for Lena to be free of the curse. Lena doesn't allow this and she parts ways with Ethan, making him forget their entire relationship. This opens up a major plot hole, though. In that Lena and Ethan were a couple quite openly. Ethan's ex and all his friends knew they were together. And yet, in six months (since they do one of those 'X months later' deals), no one has ever brought up Lena to Ethan. Not one of his friends, not the snobs that hated Lena. No one, in HALF A YEAR, ever mentioned Ethan's relationship with Lena at any point in time. That's odd to me, but whatever. It's something that most people will overlook. Anyway, there's obviously a twist in regards to which loved one dies. You'll figure it out quite easily. So, yea, I had problems with the narrative. And I had problems with the leads as well. That's another thing I gotta talk about. While Alice Englert and Alden Ehrenreich (say that seven times in a row without stuttering) have good chemistry in that you can sense the attraction between the two, the romance was just your garden variety teen romance in that there's nothing special about it. It did absolutely nothing for me. And, quite frankly, there's some scenes where the two are cringe-worthy to watch. Alice has some really bad scenes and Alden has some very dorky moments. Thankfully, though, the film has a talented supporting cast to make up for some of their weaknesses. Admittedly, however, Jeremy Irons and Emma Thompson are hamming it up here. Hey, they're entertaining as shit together, but there's no denying this fact. I don't really know what else to say. One positive is the fact that the movie never takes itself too seriously. It isn't as silly as it could be, but the film does have a few chuckles. Looking back on the review, I feel that this is a 2 star movie at best. It's slightly better than the rating would imply, but I felt that its narrative flaws and uninteresting romance held it back from being even a decent movie. I had no issues while I was watching this, like I wasn't bothered in the slightest, but its problems are too numerous to ignore. I wouldn't recommend it, but it's better than Twilight, so at least this cleared that very low bar. That's about the nicest thing anyone can say about any of these supernatural romance flicks.