Having no previous experience with the Beautiful Creatures series, I went into this movie pretty much blind. My only reference was the fairly awesome trailer and the presence of acting heavyweights Jeremy Irons, Viola Davis, and Emma Thompson immediately grabbed my attention. I have a fascination with the supernatural so this was right up my alley.
I went in with no real expectations and I have to say I liked it. I do have some qualms which I will get to but for the most part, I really enjoyed the film. The movie follows Ethan Wate and Lena Duchannes. Lena is a 15 year old “Caster” who moves to the small town of Gatlin where her uncle, Macon Ravenwood (the always awesome Jeremy Irons), the town shut-in, lives. She is immediately labeled a freak in this God-fearing town. Ethan who has just lost his mother is intrigued by Lena and the two eventually embark on a romance. The twist is that on Lena’s 16th birthday in December she will be “claimed” by the light (good) or the dark (evil). There is a potential curse that could take Lena over to the dark so her Uncle Macon is none too thrilled with the romance.
Even though this film centers around Lena and Ethan, the movie doesn’t really become interesting until Jeremy Irons, Viola Davis and Emma Thompson, who is fantastic and is clearly having a blast, enters the picture. In fact, the romance, while sweet, is the least interesting part about this film. I like the characters and the actors do a good job in their roles, and they have decent chemistry, but the love story is just not as interesting. The film is at its best when it focuses on Lena’s forthcoming claiming and the threat of her mother, Sarafine and her cousin, Ridley (the fantastic Emmy Rossum) who have both been claimed by the Dark.
Even though I have not read the novel, I can tell there were plenty of details that were left out which is usually the case with screen adaptations. This is one of those instances where it is noticeable, and this is coming from someone who has not read the book. This doesn’t mean that if you haven’t read the series that you won’t be able to enjoy the film, not at all. However, you get the sense there is more to the story and there just wasn’t enough time to address everything which is interesting as this movie felt long. It didn’t necessarily drag, but it definitely felt like you were waiting for the next big moment.
Beautiful Creatures while not the best film, is an enjoyable one. There are some pacing problems and the central love story is predictable and a little bland, but all in all, the film kept me entertained. I am intrigued enough to read the series so I’ll see how the book and film compare.