Beautiful Creatures


“Beautiful Creatures” is a dull, silly movie overburdened with exposition in order to establish its vapid mythology, all surrounding a tween-targeted romance between two low-wattage young stars.

Suffice it to say, I’m not a fan.

In Gatlin, South Carolina, a small southern town, a new girl, Lena (Alice Englert), arrives at the local high school. She’s immediately greeted by the girls in her class with accusations of witchcraft and Satan worship, based on her family’s reputation. In spite of some bizarre occurrences that coincide with her arrival, Ethan (Alden Ehrenreich), a classmate of hers, is smitten by her. He doggedly pursues her affection in spite of her reluctance.
Once she finally begins to open up to him, he quickly discovers that the rumors surrounding her family are true. They’re witches, or as they prefer to be called, “Casters”. Worse still, she’s approaching her sixteenth birthday, a time when Casters will turn either into wielders of dark magic or light magic, in an event known as “The Claiming”. Rival factions within her family are trying to push her towards one side or another, and her affection for Ethan becomes one of the many cards in play.
So as Lena approaches her claiming, she’s forced to stave off the dark forces within her family and straighten out her feelings for Ethan.
It’s gobbledy goop with a tween romantic bent. The romance between the two teens is forbidden, yet destined. The impending “Claiming” could bring about a new era. Lena is the chosen one allowed to read the protected tome of spells. It’s all overwrought nonsense with two teens making puppy eyes at each other at the core of it. I honestly have no idea how this fim is batting .500 on Rotten Tomatoes.  
I could tell “Beautiful Creatures” was an adaptation of a novel, because it felt as if they were trying to cram a thousand details in via the exposition. Where a novel can take its time with such details, a lot of times a film will come across like someone hurriedly yelling things to get at the store at you as you pull out of the driveway. Like “Beautiful Creatures” does. Its dialogue is absolutely stuffed to the gills with the mythos of the “Beautiful Creatures” world. The characters’ history. The rules for “Casters”. Explaining the “Claiming”. Explaining the “Curse”. On and on and on. It barely left any time for the characters to actually do things or say things for themselves, they were all so busy freaking explaining things.
The supporting cast here is worthy of far better things. Jeremy Irons, Viola Davis, Emma Thompson and even Emmy Rossum all add a touch of gravitas that the film surely doesn’t deserve. It was tough to watch them all do their best, and see the material weigh them down like an albatross. They’re also betrayed by the lack of charisma in the two leads. Alden Ehrenreich and Alice Englert were both flat-out dull, and he frequently strayed into “bad”. I can’t imagine either of them carrying a project on their own (based on what I saw here) and I openly wondered how they landed these parts. Perhaps the casting director spent all their time on obtaining the services of the stars in support.
I’m not in the frame of mind to cut this film much slack. It was a silly, stilted, supernatural soap opera. No one over the age of 12 need apply.


Daniel Fogarty

54 thoughts on “Beautiful Creatures

  1. Funny how Warm Bodies comes out and has something interesting to say about its subject matter and YA fare as a whole, and then this comes out weeks later and…sucks. Beautiful Creatures might be my “worst of” for this year so far, but given that I’m calling on a small sample size, that distinction feels pretty trite. Regardless, the film is a pile, and what’s worse, it really didn’t need to be; its leads are charming, and both Irons and Thompson have a ball chewing the scenery. (Plus: Emmy Rossum looks great in everything she wears here, even if her character is less than useless.)

    The problem is that only Irons and Thompson get what kind of film they’re in. Englert and Ehrenreich, well, they don’t really seem to care, but they also have good chemistry, so there’s that. Everything swirling around them, though, is so self-serious despite being undeniably silly that it’s impossible to take the non-character elements at face value. It’s just absurd. Of course destiny is driving all of this bullshit forward; teens feel like they’re not in control of their own lives, and that’s doubly true when a mystical curse inexplicably draws them together and dictates their fates. Of course all of this pegs Lena as being “special”, a’la Harry Potter; of course Amma is actually involved in the world of the casters. Of course, of course, of course. All of this stuff is pat and expected– it is because it has to be, and it has to be because the people driving it forward have no frigging imagination.

    Seriously, screw this movie.

    • “Funny how Warm Bodies comes out and has something interesting to say about its subject matter and YA fare as a whole, and then this comes out weeks later and…sucks.”

      You know whats funny is that line. LOL

      I agree, if the year ended today, this is on my prorated worst list. No doubt. It probably actually stands a chance at the true worst list at the end of the year.

      See? I didnt even find the leads “Charming” or that they had Good Chemistry so I’m even worse off. 😮 LOL

      “Seriously, screw this movie” is right. Can you believe its at 50% (well, 45) on Rotten Tomatoes? Thats the shocker of the year to me. WTF are those people thinking. This one deserves like a 10-15%.

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