Beautiful Creatures, a supernatural romance, is the latest film in a long line of book adaptations. This is always a risky road for a film to take, with such films as ‘The Golden Compass’ and ‘Eragon’ highlighting the potential dangers. But, if a film is lucky and based on a concise, neat and interesting plot, it may flourish into a ‘Harry Potter’. This film was not one of the fortunate ones.
In a small, God-loving town called Gatlin (located in the south, in case the accents weren’t a dead give-away), Ethan Wate finds himself drawn to a new girl named Lena Duchannes. After much persistence and awkward foreplay, Ethan discovers Lena is a witch, or ‘Caster’. And she only has a few weeks until she turns 16, after which her powers will be claimed for the Light or the Dark. To complicate matters even further, Lena and Ethan fall in love, which triggers a curse that will turn Lena Dark unless she breaks it. Will she turn Dark? Will she choose the Light? Does anyone actually care? Because, lets face it, I’ve seen more chemistry in a biology lecture than between these two actors.
The plot of the film was rapidly paced through, scenes which may have been important skimmed over in a hurried manner. The only time when the film seems to slow down and allow the audience to catch up is when Emmy Rossum’s character enters. But besides putting the beautiful in Beautiful Creatures, her character seems to have little purpose. Time spent showing what a cold bitch she is could have easily been allocated to the actual romance of the story, which I felt was lacking in development.
On a positive note, Emma Thompson’s performance as Mrs. Lincoln and Sarafine was delightful to watch. She played the contrast between God-fearing, wholesome Christian and psychotic, frivolous Caster very well. But unfortunately, like most other positive aspects of the film, her character was not given enough screen time to live up to her full potential. Jeremy Irons also did a good job with his character, Macon Ravenwood.
Sadly, even the best acting from these brilliant actors could not bail this film out of the pits. With cheesy special effects, a love that seems to blossom for no reason, and a disappointing, uneventful climax, this film was a big, ugly mess. I see it more as a set up for sequels than a decent stand-alone film. Which is a shame, because I am sure that the producers had high hopes for this franchise.
Beautiful Creatures (2013), directed by Richard LaGravenese, is distributed in the UK by Entertainment Film Distributors, Certificate 12A.