Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Beautiful Creatures - Movie Review

All things seem to go in phases in the mainstream entertainment industry.  For a while Vampires ruled the world of entertainment. Although, for the die-hard Vampire enthusiasts, bloodsuckers always have and always will rule! However, it seems that Witches might be the new Vampire. This is good news for me, since my book, “The Forsaken” dabbles in magic. Perhaps my book couldn’t come out at a better time.
When I think of Witches, I think of the Salem Witch Trials, I think black cats, All Hallows Eve, superstition, and black magic. I don’t think of English kids goofing off with a wand saying, “Oh, gee whiz, magic is fun!” Don’t get me wrong Harry Potter is a brilliant series, and J.K. Rowling has a unique voice that makes her books rather entertaining. But after all, it is written for a young audience; hence the true darkness of Witchcraft is lost. Never fear, if you’re like me, and you like your Witches on the dark side, there is still hope.
“Beautiful Creatures” by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl is book one in “The Caster Chronicles”, a Young Adult series. Although I haven’t yet read the books I did see the film, and am happy to report that dark magic is on its way back.
Set in a small backwoods town in South Carolina, the film begins with the male lead, (this is his story really) Ethan Wate, played by Alden Ehrenreich. (I like having the movie start with the guy since it makes it feel like a general film instead of a chick flick) He’s bored with his life claiming: “There are only two kinds of people in Gatlin, those who are too stupid to leave, and those who are too stuck to move.” Not wanting to be trapped in this dead end town for the rest of his life, he dreams of something more.
Then enters the dark mysterious new girl in town, who as it happens is the same girl he’s been having ominous recurring dreams about. Her name is Lena Duchannes, played by Alice Englert. Drawn to each other by some unexplained force they start to fall in love. Ethan discovers that Lena is a “Caster” (essentially a Witch with a cooler name). It turns out she has been dreaming of him, too. At first their romance seemed a little forced because of the need to speed things up for a two hour movie, but over time the character’s natural chemistry made the relationship believable. They even have a fight, a real one, which is refreshing because reality couples fight all the time, especially teenage ones. Neither of the two leads is very attractive in my opinion, but they seemed to fit the characters well, and you grow to like them as the film goes on.
Of course there are the typical popular girls who treat Lena as the outcast and try to harass her, not to mention that the whole town is convinced that she’s evil. The teenage bullies were a little stereotypical and lame, but they’re just side characters really. God fearing town member, Mrs. Lincoln, who is adamant that Lena should be expelled from the high school because of her dark nature, is played by the very talented Emma Thompson (who I adore). Her character is neither a stereotype nor quite what she seems. Opposite her and the mentor/guardian of Lena is Macon Ravenwood, brought to life by the great Jeremy Irons. These two characters don’t see eye to eye when it comes to Lena and her future. Will her powers be claimed for the light or the dark? Is she an inherently evil Witch or a good Witch? And how will Ethan and Lena stay together when it comes to light that Casters are forbidden to love mortals? You’ll have to watch the film/read the books to find out.
Over all I love the dark moody tone of the film. Having it set in the South lends it some personality, especially with the legend of the Caster Curse coming from the civil war time; it even features a civil war reenactment. The set production and costume design are all rather excellent. There is a particular costume worn by Lena’s cousin Ridley, played by the beautiful Emmy Rossum, that is to die for, very Victorian, chic, and sexy (I kind of have a thing for the whole Steampunk fashion movement). The film’s visual effects are stunning; not too overdone and realistic. The “tornado in a dining room” scene, I thought was very well done. Although for me the ending was a little anti-climactic, they try to leave you with a cliff hanger, setting it up for the second film, but I think it lacked the impact they were going for. Still it was an enjoyable flick that I would recommend to any paranormal/ fantasy movie fan.
I give Beautiful Creatures three out of four stars.
If you want to check out the cast here's the Beautiful Creatures IMDB page http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1559547/?ref_=sr_1
Also I added the trailer for Beautiful Creatures below. Enjoy.
Now go forth and see this film. If you do, make sure to come back and share your thoughts and impressions of the movie in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.
R.J. Craddock