Beautiful Creatures is hardly a perfect fantasy movie but it did at least surpass my expectations thanks to the fact it’s a competently film that is way above anything the Twilight movies have done. The two leads are amazing and some of the visual effects are well done even if the story grows a tad thin for its two-hour running time.
Genre(s): Fantasy, Drama, Romance
Warner Bros. | PG13 – 124 min. – $35.99 | May 21, 2013
Directed by: Richard LaGravenese
Writer(s): Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (novel); Richard LaGravenese (screenplay)
Cast: Alden Ehrenreich, Alice Englert, Jeremy Irons, Viola Davis, Emmy Rossum, Thomas Mann, Emma Thompson
Theatrical Release Date: February 14, 2013
Features: Featurettes, Deleted Scenes, Theatrical Trailers, DVD Copy, UltraViolet
Number of Discs: 2
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 2.40
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Disc Size: 32.3 GB
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Region(s): A, B, C
THE MOVIE – 3.5/5
In any cinematic era, there are trends to which Hollywood execs latch on to the latest and greatest thing, one of two still currently going on are comic book movies and the other: anything fantasy related, although vampires take priority. With the onslaught success that was the Twilight franchise, a poorly filmed series that never quite improved all that much with each blasé entry, other studios wanted to follow suit. Warner’s entrance to the trend is entitled Beautiful Creatures based on the novel by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.
The story takes place in a middle-of-nowhere overly religious South Carolina town where high schooler Ethan Wate (ALDEN EHRENREICH) meets new girl-in-town Lena Duchannes (ALICE ENGLERT) who lives at the Ravenwood plantation house owned by her reclusive uncle, Macon Ravenwood (JEREMY IRONS) who also founded the town. As Ethan rides home during a storm, he finds Lena on the side of the road, her car in a ditch, and offers a ride home which she reluctantly accepts. The pair chit chats but Lena doesn’t seem receptive to Ethan’s interest in her…
At school, Lena is heavily berated by the school bitches including Ethan’s especially bitchy ex, Emily (ZOEY DEUTCH). As she rants, and prays, about her disdain for the Ravenwood family, something supernatural occurs as the classroom windows burst sending shards of class into everybody… Does this scare Ethan? Of course not and his fascination and obvious crush on Lena only grows. He stops by the Ravenwood estate, overgrown by vines and other vegetation, Ethan steps inside to a modern style that any snobby L.A. artist would envious of (spiral staircase, oversized fireplace, furniture that looks unusable and uncomfortable, etc.). After a weird encounter with Macon, in which Macon outlines Ethan’s path in life via his mouth, Ethan still isn’t scared away and further pursues Lena.
After some back and forth, and pithy dialogue not even adults have, Lena begins to warm up towards Ethan and soon enough a romance sparks and she opens up to him about herself and the Ravenwood family: Lena is one of many “casters” who have special and extraordinary powers. As Lena’s 16th birthday approaches, as marked via a tattoo on her hand, her destiny is determined where she could be a white (good) or dark (bad) caster. Her mother, Sarafine (EMMA THOMPSON), taking over the body of one of the townsfolk, and cousin Ridley (EMMY ROSSUM) attempt to sway Lena to go to the dark side while Macon, who was once a dark caster before choosing to go good, wants to save Lena. Complicating matters, and why Lena is so important, her birthday lands on a day where the moon aligns and she could become the most powerful caster in history.
So basically you’ve got one half of a “Romeo & Juliet” thing going on as Macon wants to protect Lena and her relationship with Ethan could put her, and the town, in jeopardy as any possible love could put her at risk to going over to the dark side. Making matters worse, there’s also a curse in the mix that began during the civil war in which a young man and woman were in love, he got shot during a battle and she utilized her powers to bring him back to life only for her to soul (or what have you) be vanquished leaving behind only darkness…
Although not as polished as some fantasy movies, aside from the Twilight movies, Beautiful Creatures actually is passable entertainment. The two leads are wonderful and hopefully are on the rise for bigger and better projects in the future, especially Alice Englert, an actress who possesses natural charm. Also fun are the supporting characters. Yes, the overly religious aspects are clichéd to the max, although the lovelorn romance also is, but the actors, Emma Thompson especially, have fun with it. Another highlight is Emmy Rossum playing a devilish seductress; I only wish she had more screen time…
Directed and adapted by Richard LaGravenese, Beautiful Creatures has a lot going for it from great production design, good casting as mentioned before and a good premise but for all that’s good, the story does tend to spread itself thin half way through before picking up the pace towards a cool finale that features some solid CGI work. And although yes the two hour time might’ve been too long, I also wonder if this wouldn’t have better been served as a 12/13-episode series (on the CW) expanding on the supporting characters and the drama they insert to expand more into the mythology of the Casters. Still, as a feature-length film, and coming from somebody who never read, let alone even heard of, the novel, I enjoyed the movie, warts and all.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 2.5/5
This release comes with a nice slip cover. Inside the case is the standard DVD Copy and a download code for the UltraViolet Digital Copy.
Although there are quite a few features, none of them are especially expansive and seemed to have been created with advertising in mind (maybe they were first shown online?). All told, the 6 featurettes add up to 24-minutes, some of which include the same sound bites.
Book to Screen (3:58; HD) – This short featurette looks at adapting the novel for the big screen and getting comments from the cast, crew and the authors.
The Casters (3:22; HD) examines the species of the supernatural inhabiting the universe and the part they play in the plot.
Between Two Worlds (4:17; HD) is about the clashes between the supernatural and human worlds. Like the others, it focuses on the interactions between the main characters.
Forbidden Romance (3:12; HD) explores Lena and Ethan’s romance and how outside forces threaten to separate them.
Alternate Worlds (5:17; HD) – Director Richard LaGravenese and the visual effects team show how the Casters live alongside humans but in their own world.
Beautiful Creatures: Designing the Costumes (3:51; HD) – The costume designer and the cast explain how wardrobe influenced the tone of the film.
Last up are four Deleted Scenes (8:10; HD), a few Theatrical Trailers & TV Spots and a Book Trailer for “ICONS”.
Preview – The Great Gatsby
VIDEO – 4.75/5
Beautiful Creatures casts its spell onto Blu-ray presented on a dual-layered disc (MPEG-4 AVC codec) and in its original theatrical 2.40 widescreen aspect ratio. Unsurprising, but this transfer looks brilliant with bright colors, fine details and no obvious signs of artifacting or any other flaws. Even background objects look good with some decent detail level making for a lovely looking 1080p high-definition transfer.
AUDIO – 4.5/5
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track offers a wide array of depth throughout from the quieter moments where characters speak to the action-oriented one’s with heavy storms brewing and crashing and wrecking havoc amongst the small townsfolk. The center channel is the clearest while the front and rear speakers sound quite good.
OVERALL – 3.5/5
Overall, Beautiful Creatures is hardly a perfect fantasy movie but it did at least surpass my expectations thanks to the fact it’s a competently film that is way above anything the Twilight movies have done. The two leads are amazing and some of the visual effects are well done even if the story grows a tad thin for its two-hour running time. The Blu-ray release offers great audio/video transfers and the features are rather short and not very expansive.