Sunday, February 10, 2013

“Beautiful Creatures” – Movie Review




This week in my movie class, we had a bonus screening of the new fantasy-drama, “Beautiful Creatures” starring Jeremy Irons, Viola Davis and Emma Thompson. 



When a young man from a small southern town meets a mysterious new stranger in his high school, he becomes immediately smitten with her – but will her dark secrets endanger his life?



The sleepy southern town of Gatlin, South Carolina is much too small for Ethan (Alden Ehrenreich), an erudite and literate teenager whose mind is far too big to be contained by this tiny, limited burg. About to start his junior year of high school, Ethan has his eyes set on a bigger prize – continuing his education at a major college, preferably one as far from Gatlin as possible. When the semester begins, he discovers a new student now in his class – Lena (Alice Englert), a recent arrival to town, who is a relative of The Ravenwoods, a family who many of Gatlin’s long-time residents suspect are Satan worshippers.

Despite the protests of Ethan’s classmates, he befriends Lena and eventually their friendship blossoms into something of a romance. But as the two teens get to know each other, Ethan soon becomes aware that not all is what it seems when it comes to Lena and her background. Upon meeting her Uncle Macon (Irons), it is revealed that he and Ethan’s recently-deceased mother had a special friendship that was previously unknown to Ethan. Additionally, Macon’s mysterious behavior confuses Ethan and infuriates Lena, whose uncle discourages her from making any friends. Eventually, it comes out that Lena is a Caster – something of a witch who will possess magical powers upon reaching her upcoming sixteenth birthday, known as a Claiming. But whether these powers will lead her to perform acts of good or evil is unclear to her and may determine whether or not her future with Ethan will be imperiled.

Although Macon is protective of Lena and looking out for his niece’s best interests, he soon realizes that he’s at odds with Serafine (Thompson), Lena’s treacherous mother, who wants her daughter’s powers to lead her to the dark side. In an effort to defeat her mother, Lena calls upon Amma (Davis), an old friend of Ethan’s family, who secretly operates the town’s library for its Casters. However, Lena’s research uncovers some rather unsettling information – that in order to avoid a curse, someone she loves needs to perish. Will Lena need to submit to The Dark Side in order to save Ethan or will she destroy him so that she can save herself?



Clearly out to grab the young adult audience which made the “Twilight” series so hugely successful in theaters, “Beautiful Creatures” is a movie that’s not intended for my demographic – which may account for my tepid reaction. Something of a supernatural Romeo and Juliet tale, there is certainly plenty of romance and special effects that is bound to hold the limited attention span of the popcorn-munching boys and girls as well as likely leave grownups (if there are any in attendance) either bored or frustrated by the inane adolescent characters featured in this story. While I fully expect that “Beautiful Creatures” will wind up being a hit, whether it will be able to match the popularity of the “Twilight” franchise remains to be seen (and yes, the ending of this film does suggest there may be at least one sequel).

A bright spot in “Beautiful Creatures” is the performance of Emma Thompson, who plays the dual roles of Mrs. Lincoln (the mother of Ethan’s best friend) and Serafine (Lena’s mother). It is here that the actress’ talents truly shine, especially in a scene where we witness her transform from the devout and conservative Mrs. Lincoln to the brash, bold (and, dare I say, sexy) Serafine where she rightly – and effectively – goes over the top to sheer perfection. While Jeremy Irons and Viola Davis join Thompson in lending their talents and credibility to the cast, it is, sadly, still not their story to tell – which probably would’ve made a better flick, even though it wouldn’t have stayed true to its source material.

Following the screening, it appeared that a number of people in the audience – including our instructor – enjoyed the movie quite a good deal better than I. However, I was relieved to find that I was not the only one who was challenged in following the plot, which at times seemed a bit convoluted. Our instructor pointed out that the book on which it was based was almost 600 pages in length; this might explain the occasional difficulty in keeping the narrative uncluttered – given that the movie is a reasonable length (approximately 2 hours), writer/director Richard LaGravenese probably tried to cram in as much of it as possible in order to appeal to fans of the novel.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Speak Your Piece, Beeyotch!