Well… time for another review, and this time out it’s for the recent 2013 US adaption of the romantic fantasy novel “Beautiful Creatures”. What? An English language film? Yep… my sweet Carolyn got to pick one for a change, and this tale of witches, curses, and romance was her way of trying to find that illusive movie that would please both our movie watchin’ styles. Awwww!! She’s such a sweetheart… 😉
Quick synopsis? Gotcha covered… 😉 “In Gatlin, South Carolina, Ethan Wate longs to escape his boring life in his small sleepy Southern town. He meets a mysterious new girl, Lena. Together, they uncover dark secrets about their respective families, their history and their town while falling into a forbidden romance.”
So can this one successfully combine the two genres of both tender romantic fiction and supernatural drama? Will both me and my sweetie like it? Oooohh!! Most importantly… will it just plain be any darn good? Just one way for you to find out o’ Gentle Visitor, and that’s to “Read On”…. 😉
Remember that old TV show “Bewitched”? Obviously somebody in Hollywood does…. and they figured that the romantic hi-jinx to be had in that old idea had enough merit to recycle it and put it through that same formula of adding angst ridden young people that “Dawson’s Creek” loved so much and try and mine it once again for some box-office success. Sigh…. It’s times like this I run smack dab into the reality that I’m not a fresh faced romantically starved 20-something girl anymore…. 😉
If I was… then this movie probably would have been right up my alley.
It’s an easy enough story to get a handle on. Our hero Ethan Wate (played by Alden Ehrenreich) starts off our film giving us the quick thumbnail sketch of his sleepy little southern hometown Gatlin, South Carolina. Somehow… in the early 21st century we’re supposed to believe that such a bigoted, book banning, narrow minded town of religious fanatics could even still exist in this day and age, but hey…. without this anachronistic setting the story can’t really play out at all so I guess we’ll have to roll with it.
Our boy Ethan is supposed to be the one single person in this entire town with any desire to think for himself or question authority. Given that, it’s natural that he’s the only person willing to welcome pretty Lena Duchannes (played by Alice Englert) upon her return to Gatlin to live with her reclusive uncle, Macon Ravenwood (played by Jeremy Irons), whom suspicious locals have always believed to be up to all sorts of unsavory things. Naturally that includes nasty rumors of devil worship and witchcraft and instantly makes “emo” girl Lena “persona non grata” with her fellow students.
Basically it isn’t long before he finds out that those scandalous rumors floating around town aren’t too far off the mark. Lena’s family are “casters”… a new-agey way of saying witch, I guess… and that on her 16th birthday our heroine will be claimed by the Power of Magic to embrace either the “Light” or “Dark” side whether she wants to or not. Ummmm…? OK. So sort of like “Harry Potter” meets the Jedi… Yep. Neko’s got it.
That should mean that the bulk of our story revolves around the struggle as our two young lovers try to beat the forces of Evil trying to claim sweet Lena while somehow beating all the odds to find happiness. Unfortunately there’s really only one problem. There’s just absolutely no chemistry… no passion… to this romance and no amount of CGI witchcraft and convoluted “reincarnation/ curse” subplot can distract one from that big honking problem. Darn it….
I’ve often said that your Favorite Catgirl can enjoy just about any film as long as there are characters I like.. that I can sympathize with and root for. “Beautiful Creatures” quite honestly just doesn’t have any… Not Ethan nor Lena… nor her maybe evil, maybe good Uncle Macon… certainly not Lena’s once inseparable BFF and now tragically evil cousin Ridley (played by Emmy Rossum), nor Ethan’s best buddy Link (played by Thomas Mann). They are all just thin cardboard characters left to wander through this meandering exercise of a story without any feeling or depth to them at all.
Given that, it’s hard to become involved in the story or even care if the two will end the curse that binds them to each other or stop Lena from becoming nothing more than her sinister mother Sarafine’s (played by Emma Thompson) evil tool to purge the world of Mortals so the casters may rule in their place. By the finale I just couldn’t care enough…. Sigh… and my sweetie really wanted an American film for us that we’d both like…. darn it. Even she couldn’t bring herself to enjoy it, I’m afraid. And I soooo sooo wanted to…. 😦
But this was not to be. I’m afraid your Favorite Catgirl can only give “Beautiful Creatures” a paltry 2 “Meows” out of 5. For a story about Witches, Magic, and the power of Love conquering any obstacles, it just couldn’t overcome it’s own flaws and make you care whether our lovers lived or died, let alone whether the world of Mortals came to an end. How exactly does it end? Trust this wee Catgirl… you wouldn’t care to know either if I told you… A shame… but there it is.
The Region 1 DVD for this one is readily available for around 12-15$ US, but I’d have to say, unless you were a young adult girl obsessed with romantic supernatural stories, you really wouldn’t miss anything by giving it a pass. (Psssst!! And if you are a young adult girl obsessed with romantic supernatural stories… then I’d say you could do soooo darn much better with the classic “A Chinese Ghost Story”…. now that one will make you cry. 😉 )
As always…. good movie or bad… your Favorite Catgirl’s got you a Trailer! Enjoy!