Now, I had no idea that this was a popular book. I looked up a movie to watch and when I looked at reviews, it was an onslaught of “WHAT DID THEY DO?” posts. So, I got curious. Way back in the day, I went and saw The Last Airbender and I really enjoyed it (because I had no context). I then watched the television show Avatar and I could see why the movie failed, but I was curious if I would like Beautiful Creatures without the context.
Ethan (Alden Ehrenreich) is stuck in his little Southern town and dreams of the world beyond. When newcomer Lena (Alice Englert) comes to town, she disrupts the norm and calls everything into question. He soon falls for her but finds out that she’s a “caster,” which is a sort of witch, and that in just a few months, she’ll either become a powerful caster for good or the epitome of evil. Will her relationship with Ethan save her goodness or corrupt her beyond saving?
I liked the two leads. I was expecting a very Twilightish experience but luckily both of these actors gave more than Pattinson or Stewart did in their entire franchise. There was emotion and heartfelt reactions and it seemed like a much more plausible romance. Their chemistry was definitely tangible. I also appreciated that neither of them are the stereotypical hero/heroine in a story like this. Ehrenreich is kind of an interesting looking guy (not traditionally handsome) and Englert is somewhat plain and uninteresting. This also creates a sense of realism, that it’s not this overly romanticized version of high school.
Carrying the movie are veterans Jeremy Irons and Emma Thompson. Both of them have a sense of power that makes this supernatural world seem plausible and walk the fine line between understatement and overstatement. Irons is mysterious and when he speaks, you listen. As the town hermit, he turns out very different from what you’d expect. Emma Thompson stars as a local mother who’s concerned with the likes of these “witches” living amongst them. She is the definite antagonist in this story and she does an incredible job. She has a scene with just her and Irons and that scene stole the show for me. Incredible work by both.
What didn’t work?
There were definite moments where the movie veered too close to traditional supernatural romance dramas and it came on a little heavy-handed. This isn’t a movie like Twilight though, there’s definitely more going on here and it was really interesting.
Now, if you’ve read the book, I’m going add this paragraph as a placeholder for all of your anger and misplaced rage. But me, I had no qualms about the story.
Without context, I enjoyed Beautiful Creatures. It was fairly unpredictable and managed to walk the fine line between supernatural drama and romance. The young leads were believable and the older actors really carried the movie. If you’re looking for escapism, this movie may give you that. Don’t let negative ratings from people who “loved the book” turn you away, there’s some cool stuff to be found here if you give it a chance.