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Based on the Trailer: Beautiful Creatures

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Valentine’s Day is tomorrow, and you know what that means…

Chocolate!

Seriously, though, it’s the time for all you guys to let your girls know how special they are to you.  Plan that special date well; get her flowers, write her a poem, take her on a picnic, or take her to the movies.  In fact, February 14th is the release date for a very special romantic movie: Twilight 5!

Well, no.  Actually, it’s Beautiful Creatures.

They're about as excited as I am.

They’re about as excited as I am.

Based on the book by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, Beautiful Creatures is a paranormal romance about everyday guy Ethan Waite and a not-witch (more on that later) Lena Duchannes.  Normally, this kind of story would make me burrow into my bedsheets and dream of better stories, but hey, it’s Valentine’s Day.  I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt.

Since this is my first “Based on the Trailer” review, let me explain how this works.  I start by taking a look at the people involved in the making of the movie, especially the main actors and the director.  I will then share with you some key moments I picked out of the trailer and comment on them.  Finally, I will express my thoughts on who might enjoy this film whether it’s worth a peek, and whether I’ll be making the trek to the theatre myself.

So who plays the two love interests?  Lena is played by Alice Englert, and Ethan is played by Alden Ehrenreich (a name I will not attempt to pronounce out loud).  Both are relatively unknown, which has worked well enough for Steven Spielberg in the past; therefore, it’s not necessarily a bad thing.  We do have a big name supporting cast, though.  Macon Ravenwood, the father-but-apparently-not, is played by Oscar-winner Jeremy Irons, who has played every role from John the Baptist in Godspell to Scar in The Lion King to Antonio in The Merchant of Venice.  We also have the villainess Sarafine as portrayed by Oscar-winner Emma Thompson, who has done great work in Nanny McPhee, The Remains of the Day, and the Harry Potter series.  Then there is Viola Davis from The Help, who was nominated for an Oscar, and Golden Globe-nominated Emmy Rossum, who starred in The Day after Tomorrow, The Phantom of the Opera, and … um, Dragonball Evolution.  She was also on the soap opera As the World Turns, so she should be right at home here.

Beautiful Creatures Cast

Right, benefit of the doubt.  Let’s see about the director, then: Richard LaGravenese, who has directed … well, nothing, really.  This is probably his first big film.  But hey, if Spielberg can have Jaws for his first big movie, LaGravenes has a chance too.

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We open in a classroom, where several students are whispering about the new girl whose “whole family are Satanists.”  Lena then proceeds to blow out every window in the classroom using her magic powers.  Uh, you know, Lena, they might be more generous to you and your family if you didn’t go all Carrie on them.  Ethan asks Lena if she is a witch, but Lena says, “We prefer the term Caster.”  Caster?  As in one who cast spells?  As in witch?  If you’re going to have witches in your movie, why not just call them witches?  At least Harry Potter was honest about their being witches and wizards.  Here the magical community has given itself a politically correct name.  Isn’t that a little like calling vampires “undead bitey people”?

"See, I'm casting.  I'm a caster."

“See, I’m casting. I’m a caster.”

Anyway, we learn that Lena has a countdown timer on her hand a la Logan’s Run.  When the timer runs out and she turns sixteen, she’ll have to choose whether her powers will be claimed for the Light or the Darkness.  Kind of an obvious choice, isn’t it?  Light is good, darkness is bad.  Unless you have a Deconstructionist worldview, it’s a no-brainer; you’re going to go with the Light.  But apparently, Lena is a very dark young woman despite not being Kristen Stewart-level emo, and a relationship with Ethan will only make her more vulnerable to Darkness, even though Ethan seems like a perfectly nice, if bland, young man who encourages and supports Lena.  Not sure how that works.  I don’t know if the conflict was this simplified in the book, but it really shouldn’t be that hard to reject Darkness when you know it’s bad.

Yes, there is so much potential for darkness in this scene.

Yes, there is so much potential for darkness in this scene.

Emmy Rossum comes over and exposits that she was just like Lena before the Darkness claimed her powers.  She then takes off her glasses to reveal … werewolf eyes?  The magic eyes from Merlin?  Whatever, they’re glowing yellow, which I guess is supposed to be menacing, but really they just look like some cool tinted contact lenses.  “And look at what I am now.”  You’re a woman with yellow eyes, Emmy.  It’s abnormal at most.

You know she's evil when the lollipop comes out.

You know she’s evil when the lollipop comes out.

Then we meet Emma Thompson with the world’s most annoying Southern accent.  Jeremy Irons’s accent in this is fantastic, but Emma just can’t seem to pull it off.  It’s almost as distracting as Michael Caine’s accent in Secondhand Lions; it sounds so caricatured coming out of their mouths, especially since you’re expecting a British accent.  But we’re told Sarafine wants to rule or kill all mortals (Voldemort, anyone?), and that despite her being the most powerful Caster in the world, she wants Lena to lead the Magic KKK to victory.  Why couldn’t she just do this herself?  I guess because she knows Lena will be more powerful than her and has a better chance.  How she knows this ahead of time is anyone’s guess.

"I'm gonna be real powerful one day, but until then, I'm gonna mope around.  It worked for Anakin Skywalker."

“I’m gonna be real powerful one day, but until then, I’m gonna mope around. It worked for Anakin Skywalker.”

Finally, we’re treated to the obligatory trailer montage of passion lip action, tornados, Civil War-type scenes, a flipping police car, and a dining room table spinning like an amusement park ride while the people sitting around it argue about Lena’s fate.  Oh, and Emma Thompson asks Lena to “be with” her.  As if the story wasn’t creepy enough already.

"She will not 'be with' anyone until she's married, thank you very much."

“She will not ‘be with’ anyone until she’s married, thank you very much.”

So would I recommend Beautiful Creatures?  Ah, no.  It may not be horrible, but the trailer hasn’t given me much hope that this will be anything but a Twilight knockoff.  If you enjoyed Twilight, you’ll probably like this movie, but if you’re indifferent or in the massive crowd of Twi-haters, it will only waste your time.  Unless your girlfriend likes Twilight, in which case you might could score some points with her by taking her to see the film.  Being blissfully unattached myself, I’ll be skipping out on this one.

What do you think?  Did this review spark your interest in the movie or push you away from it?  Was I unfair to the film, or did I miss an opportunity for a joke?  Let me know in the comments, and if you see the movie, by all means let me know how it was!

 

Beautiful Creatures is owned by Warner Bros.

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