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Review: Beautiful Creatures

Warner bros. Pictures: Alden Ehrenreich and Alice Englert in "Beautiful Creatures"With the huge success of Twilight, the book turned film franchise that raked in millions upon millions of dollars, you had to know that it was only a matter of time before we saw more books geared toward teenage girls hit the big screen. That would explain why we have a movie entitled Beautiful Creatures. Like Twilight, it’s set in a world where the supernatural survives in secret and became very popular amongst teenage girls.

The story in Beautiful Creatures follows Ethan Wate (Alden Ehrenreich), a young southern teenager from the small town of Gatlin, South Carolina. He’s a romantic who dreams of girl that he’s never met and one he feels he can never have. At this point and time, the young man with the wild imagination doesn’t truly know what he wants in his life right now. He has a girlfriend named Emily (Zoey Deutch) who he’s chosen not to see or speak to since the end of the last school year, and he doesn’t appear to have any further interest in the high maintenance southern belle.

He does have a dream of leaving Gatlin one day, but it looks as if that may be close to impossible if you hear that it’s described as a town where ever leaves or moves in. Being the dreamer that he is though, that saying belief that many carry with them doesn’t dissuade him from wanting to get out-of-town and moving on to other more exciting adventures in life. If his wish comes true his first action will be to go off to college outside of what he knows and begin to discover the life he sees as worth living.

I guess the fantasies of a more exciting life keeps him from falling into the slumber that others might be experiencing in Gatlin, but with the arrival of the mysterious Lena Duchannes (Alice Englert) into the closed off community, things may be about to change. As soon as he lays eyes on her, Ethan takes an immediate liking to the new girl in school and wants to know more about her. For some reason, she’s fascinating to him and it doesn’t hurt that he finds her to be physically attractive.

He quickly forgets his former girl and does all that he can to know more about Lena, the damsel of mysterious origins. As he moves in on his goal, he meets resistance from her over protective uncle, Macon Ravenwood (Jeremy Irons). He’s mysterious in his own right and no one really knows anything about him or his family. For Ravenwood, that’s exactly the way he wants it and anyone who comes too close to his family will be denied.

However, that doesn’t prevent Ethan from trying to make a new acquaintance with the niece of Macon and she begins to notice and become attached to him as well. What he doesn’t know, but soon finds out is that there is more than just her uncle that separates them. Overtime, the young dreamer discovers that his new high school crush is actually what we call a witch with powers that are growing by the day. This is one of the reasons why Ravenwood has always been secretive for all of these years. They have powers that are seen as nothing more than a myth which can also look like a threat to anyone on the outside.

As of right now, the two youngster feel their romance blossoming and don’t want anything to get in the way, but they don’t really have a say in the matter and Lena knows it. See, her powers haven’t finished developing yet and her mood may change right along with it. That’s because on her sixteenth birthday, the powers that have been bestowed upon her will either be claimed by the light or dark forces in the world of witchcraft and she doesn’t have a say in the matter. If she stays on the light side of things, she may be able to continue her relationship with Ethan and live a more normal existence, but if the dark conquers her soul, she’ll be pure evil.

Anyone who isn’t a fan of the Beautiful Creatures story may find it hard to believe that a sixteen year old guy would fall in love with an average looking girl so easily without ever really getting know her. I’m pretty sure the average male on this planet will tell you the same thing. Especially when it comes to average looking females, that all takes time. Plus when you’re talking about that age, a sixteen year old boy isn’t thinking “love” when he’s thinking about girls. Dudes just aren’t built like that.

Luckily for all of you fans of Beautiful Creatures, this movie is rightfully geared toward the card-carrying female supporters of the books. I know that many women love these kinds of stories no matter how unrealistic they are. It’s the same reason why Pretty Woman is so popular amongst a large portion of women. With that in mind, many of you will run to the theaters to check this out and you’ll likely find it to be entertaining. For you guys, they might not need to spell everything out like I would have liked for them to have done, because you already know the story and can fill in the holes for yourself while losing nothing in the process.

For people like me however, this may not be the case. I’ve never heard of this franchise before, because books of this genre go largely unnoticed by me. Watching for the first time and knowing nothing about it didn’t really help in this case as much as it usually does. The approach taken by LaGravenese and company leaves Beautiful Creatures feeling empty for folks like myself. It’s essentially two hours long, so you’d think they could establish some kind of actual connection between the two teenage lovebirds, but we didn’t get that.

We got a story that told us they were in love, but we never have a chance to feel it or legitimately show it. What made Ethan fall for Lena so hard after getting to meet her and find out who she was? She’s not exactly the most outgoing person you’ll ever meet and she’s not the most beautiful either. He meets her, talk to her and is all of a sudden in love with her. Is he that desperate, because he lives in this town with no new people that he’d fall for anyone? I don’t know, they never tell you.

I’m not criticizing the cast at all in this movie’s failure to properly translate to the big screen. The blame falls solely on the shoulders of the people behind bringing it to the feature film format. The lack of a proper build up and the seemingly incomplete  story that we witness are the primary reasons why Beautiful Creatures can’t succeed. Like any other novel turned into a film, I’d expect they’d have to shave some of it down, but you don’t want to leave out those small portions of a story that builds the chemistry and connectivity that’s necessary for tales about love, faith and fate to prevail.

Beautiful Creatures is a largely forgettable movie, that hopes to make a good sum of money off of the heels of flicks like the ones in the Twilight series. I personally don’t mind anyone trying to earn some cash, but it would have been nice if I was able to witness a story that felt more complete and well-developed. Maybe they’ll do this in the sequels to this movie. Then again, if they’re following Twilight in every way, that won’t be the case.

Score: 2/5

Rating: PG-13

Director: Richard LaGravenese

Alden Ehrenreich
Alice Englert
Jeremy Irons
Viola Davis
Emmy Rossum
Thomas Mann
Emma Thompson

Film Length: 118 minutes

Release Date: February 14, 2013

Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures

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