Magic and Romance? I’m Sold on Beautiful Creatures

28 Feb

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Here’s a list of things I love (in movies and life)

  • Southern accents
  • Supernatural people who are also attractive (vampires, werewolves, witches, zombies etc.)
  • Star crossed lovers
  • Fancy dresses (modern or American civil war era)
  • Beautiful set pieces and scenery and photography
  • Neat special effects
  • Stories adapted for the screen from young adult novels
  • Strong female leads

 

Here is a list of things Beautiful Creatures possess:

 

ALL OF THOSE THINGS.

 

Ergo, I loved it. I knew from the trailer I’d love it because there are certain things I’m just a sucker for. So bottom line is I was seeing this movie no matter what and luckily Kenny graciously agreed to go along with me. He hated it but I’m not sure why though I asked him and I’m not sure he knows either.  Surprisingly the critics didn’t totally hate Beautiful Creatures, earning a 45% on rottentomatoes.com which something in this genre would score somewhere around 15-25%.

 

The movie is told from Ethan Wate’s point of view in voiceover.  We meet him after his mother has died and he dreams about a mysterious girl nightly. Of course a mysterious turns up at school shortly after and so starts the love affair between Ethan and Lena Duchannes. Lena is a witch who will, on her sixteenth birthday, be claimed by good or evil to fulfill her destiny. Trouble is, there’s a pesky curse placed on her family and odds are leaning toward her turning evil.

 

This film is supplemented by a strong supporting cast which including Jeremy Irons, (Lolita) Viola Davis (Doubt, The Help) and Emma Thompson (Nanny McPhee, Love Actually). However newcomers Alden Ehrenreich and Alice Englert play the star crossed lovers in the title roles. Beautiful Creatures is visually splendid and the special effects are quite marvelous and used to great effect here. There’s a lot of interesting themes in this movie such as coming of age, family tension and dynamic and the question of destiny and self-sacrifice. All quite hefty topics for a movie that is, to my dismay, aimed at sixteen year olds.  The film also runs a bit long but I wouldn’t shorten it, I would have simply changed a few parts to flesh out the story a little more fully.

 

One aspect I liked particularly was Lena’s strength and ferocity. She is a very powerful witch but sometimes has trouble controlling her magical abilities. Ethan encourages her and she develops herself throughout the story. Lena is a resourceful girl who faces challenges head on and searches for a solution to her curse without much help from Ethan (her personal preference, not to say Ethan wouldn’t have been helpful but she didn’t need his help.) This movie shows us that being self-sufficient and determined is extremely important but love can help us and shape us in ways we don’t expect.

 

A little note here, although I think director Richard LaGravenese did a fine job on this film, for the most part, I would really rather have a female director for this type of movie. A female director doesn’t always bring the originality and sense of female independence that movies, like this one, with a strong female lead require, but for the most part I think women should tell women’s stories. I know it’s a bit of a controversial statement but I’ll go a bit more into this at another time.

 

Recommendation: A really lovely treat for people who like a romantic, supernatural story with strong performances from a great cast and beautiful photography. If the premise doesn’t interest you, don’t bother. 

 

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