When I was finished with “Beautiful Creatures” I was surprised to learn that it wasn’t that bad of a movie. Surely, it takes a while to start up, and the mythos behind the Caster family is somewhat hard to follow, but once you manage to catch up, “Beautiful Creatures” manages to be an entertaining fantasy romance. Normally I detest fantasy films aimed at the only the female crowds, but “Beautiful Creatures” could be for everyone. It has some interesting performances, a great storyline, and some truly creative special effects I had a blast with. There’s even a scene involving two casters doing battle as an entire dining room spins like a top. It’s damn fun, if you’re in the right mindset for this big screen adaptation.
Alice Englert gives a great performance as the inadvertent heroine Lena Duchannes, a young girl who moves to South Carolina to stay with her uncle Macon in his mansion. Lena is blamed for many of the odd occurrences around town, and is soon rumored to be a satanic witch. What’s worse is she never actually bothers to defy the rumors. She catches the attention of high school jock Ethan, who befriends her and is quickly smitten with her mysterious attitude, and no nonsense personality. After being plagued with dreams about her, Ethan seeks out Lena, and discovers there is so much more to her than meets the eye. She is a part of a legacy of Casters, many of whom are evil and good. Unlike the men in her family, Lena will someday be called to good or evil, and she will have no choice.
To stray for a moment, kudos to co-star Emmy Rossum for Michelle Pfeiffering “Beautiful Creatures” the entire time she’s on-screen. Much like Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman, the movie tells the audience we’re supposed to root against her but, but damn it, she’s just so sexy, charismatic, and alluring, you will find yourself wishing she were on-screen for ninety percent of the movie. Hell, I’d have loved her picture being the background for the closing credits. Emmy Rossum takes on the role of bad girl Ridley with 100 percent sexual voraciousness, and I wanted more. Now back to the review. “Beautiful Creatures” is slow in many respects, but manages to keep the central conflict compelling and very mystifying.
Surely, Lena will have no real say if she becomes a Dark Caster, and her boyfriend Ethan will ultimately spell doom or success for her destiny. Their relationship becomes a gradual pleasing element of the narrative, and it helps that the cast is strong enough to keep the film from falling off the rails. Emma Thompson is menacing as the evil Sarafina, while Jeremy Irons is memorable as Uncle Macon, desperately trying to retain Lena’s innocence and heart. “Beautiful Creatures” is not so much the epic fantasy many will crave going in, but as a drama based around escaping fate, and deciding your own life, it works well. I wanted to know more about the Casters, and hopefully we’ll get a sequel to round out the mythos better.
The Release from Warner comes with a twenty four minute Behind the Scenes Featurette set to the Warner Focus point that’s distracting and gaudy, but sets the tone for a typical feature about the making of the film with various looks at the production and story. Finally, there’s an eight minute reel of Delete Scenes.