Beautiful Creatures (12A)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner15/02/2013

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 119 mins

Watchable teen fantasy romance enlivened by strong performances and some nice ideas, though it's a little early to tell if it has the full-on Twilight potential the filmmakers are clearly hoping for.

What's it all about?
Directed by Richard LaGravenese and based on the novels by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, Beautiful Creatures is set in present day smalltown South Carolina and stars Alden Ehrenreich as teenager Ethan Wate, who gets something of a shock when a raven-haired girl he has been dreaming about but has never met shows up at school as a new student. The girl turns out to be Lena Duchannes (Alice Englert) and the pair eventually begin a tentative romance, despite the fact that the she's immediately designated as an outcast by Ethan's female classmates.

However, high school hierarchy turns out to be the least of their problems when Ethan discovers that Lena is a witch or ‘caster’ and that on the occasion of her 16th birthday she will be claimed by either the forces of Light or the forces of Darkness. To complicate matters still further, Lena's own family have differing opinions on which side she should join, with her father Macon (Jeremy Irons) pushing for good and her mother Sarafine (Emma Thompson) stumping for the dark side.

The Good
Alice Englert (Ginger and Rosa) and Alden Ehrenreich make an appealing central couple and both have a darn sight more personality than certain other star-crossed teen fantasy lovers one might care to mention. In addition, there are enjoyably hammy turns from both Irons and Thompson, while Emmy Rossum is a lot of fun as Lena's vampy cousin Ridley, who makes a fairly convincing argument for choosing the dark side, if only because the outfits are sexier.

The production design is impressive throughout and the script has some engaging flashes of humour and invention, notably a running gag about Leonardo DiCaprio movies and Lena giving Ethan his own personal rain cloud when she's annoyed with him. It also pushes all the right buttons in the romance department and has an agreeably edgy take on religion (especially for America) as well as a subtle but effective feminist slant.

The Bad
The main problem with the film is that it's hard to care too much whether Lena chooses good or evil; this is partly the script's fault, since it seems to be saving a detailed explanation of the consequences for the proposed future instalments. In addition, the film is saddled with a fairly tedious voiceover (from Ethan's character) that's as grating and unnecessary as Bella's monotonous droning in the Twilight movies.

Worth seeing?
As fantasy teen romances go, Beautiful Creatures is entirely watchable, thanks to an inventive script and likeable performances from Ehrenreich and star-in-the-making Englert.

Film Trailer

Beautiful Creatures (12A)
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Content updated: 23/07/2018 12:54

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