Now The Twilight Saga has come to a close, Summit Entertainment have turned their attention to a new young adults book saga; the ‘Beautiful’ series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. It’s directed by Richard Lagravenese, whose last film was the dire P.S. I Love You. Thankfully he doesn’t kill this adaptation of a popular novel. In fact, it’s a thoroughly entertaining success.
It has a predictable boy-meets-girl-with-magic-powers story at its core (lead by young actors Alden Ehrenreich and Alice Englert). He is human, she is a witch, but they can’t be together because of an ancient curse. The whole thing could have been a watery, silly saga of magic, mayhem and boring teen kissing, but thankfully Lagravenese directs it with terrific style and flare that the derivative plot hardly matters. Cinematographer Philippe Rousselot makes everything – especially the South Carolina countryside – look lush and painfully beautiful. The artistic talent that has gone into this movie deserves praise and recognition.
There are also some bonkers but brilliant over-the-top performances from Brits Jeremy Irons and Emma Thompson, as well as sensitive supporting turns from the wonderful Viola Davis and teen actor Thomas Mann (who we last saw in the nasty and offensive party movie Project X).
Although much of the proceedings are pumped up to one hundred, there are some moments of intelligence and subtlety admits the chaos. The chemistry between the two leads is magnetic and believable, and the touchingly handled ending plucks at your emotional strings without resorting to schmaltz and sickly sentimentality.
Though some may unfairly dismiss it as teenage popcorn nonsense, Beautiful Creatures has a backbone of its own. It’s a well-crafted, imaginatively staged story that really snaps and crackles onscreen with energy and enthusiasm. I’m looking forward to Part II.
Beautiful Creatures (2013), directed by Richard Lagravenese, is distributed in the UK by Entertainment Film Distributors, Certificate 12A.