Just as Glinda asks Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, “Are you a good witch, or a bad witch?”, the main conflict in Beautiful Creatures also questions good vs. evil. Based on the first book of the fairly popular Young Adult book series Caster Chronicles, Beautiful Creatures is the studios’ latest attempt to fill the Twilight-sized hole left in Hollywood. Unfortunately, the film’s all-star supporting cast could not save it from itself, a poorly written script that at times verges on boring and at other times on campy melodrama. Try as I may, not even my love for cheesy teen-romances could make me enjoy this film.
Beautiful Creatures centers around the sleepy small town of Gatlin, South Carolina and its extremely religious inhabitants. Ethan Wate (Alden Ehrenreich) is a popular high-school junior who is eager to leave the conservative town he refers to as his prison. He applies to every college he can, hoping distance from Gatlin will bring him a more fulfilled life far, far away. Before Ethan can leave town, however, he is captivated by Lena Duchannes (Alice Englert), the new Goth-esque girl in school. Whereas Ethan is desperate to leave his stable, dull life, Lena is desperate for stability and peace; she has had to move constantly due to the magical secret she is hiding. Sparks fly between the two teenagers, and a new movie franchise is born.
Everyone in Gatlin believes Lena and her family, especially her uncle Mason Ravenwood (Jeremy Irons), are Satanists. In reality, however, they are casters (a more politically correct term for witches). On Lena’s sixteenth birthday, she must participate in a ceremony called “The Claiming”, which will determine whether she will become a caster for the light (good) or dark (evil). With a history of dark casters in her immediate family, Lena is afraid of what she will become. In addition to The Claiming, Lena and Ethan must also discover how to break the curse on Lena’s family that prevents casters from being with mortals.
Warner Bros. February 14 release date is hoping to capture the Valentine’s Day crowds looking for a romantic movie date night. Regrettably, the romance in the film falls short due to the lack of chemistry between the two lead actors; Edward and Bella… or Ron and Hermione they are not. To be honest, I was more interested in the relationship between Lena’s dark caster cousin Ridley (played fantastically by Emmy Rossum) and Ethan’s best friend Link (Thomas Mann) than the two main characters. Rossum shines as a wicked siren, making men swoon with a single glance. Hopefully if there is a sequel, it will focus more on her.
It was surprising that such an amazing supporting cast (Viola Davis, Emma Thompson, and Jeremy Irons) would choose a movie like this. Davis’ role was expendable; her character could have been played by anyone. I wonder why she chose this role after such success with The Help. Besides Rossum’s Ridley, the only other saving grace in the film was the fantastic Emma Thompson. Thompson’s role as a religious zealot with a dark secret was the most well-written, interesting character in the entire movie.
Beautiful Creatures is definitely not the type of movie you should rush to the theaters, or even RedBox to see; its 124 minute runtime does not go by quickly. For a good witch….errr caster… film rent Practical Magic instead (it’s available for free if you’re a member of Amazon Prime).
My review: C-/D+