HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Beautiful Creatures
HTS Overall Score:74.5
Ahh, it didn’t take long before the “Twilight” clones started showing up in droves. After the success of Stephanie Meyer’s “Twilight” book, we have a new variation on the romantic supernatural novellas. This time, it’s in the form of spell casters and seers instead of werewolves and vampires. The “Caster Chronicles” series isn’t as well known as the “Twilight” books, but still had a strong following behind them. As with most modern books, it was bound to get its attention on the silver screen and does so with mixed results. “Beautiful Creatures” is based on the very first book of the “Caster” series and is a definite step up in both writing quality and film quality to Stephanie Meyer’s fare. I personally cannot STAND the “Twilight” movies and was dreading the thought of another journey down that horrible memory with “Beautiful Creatures.” Luckily, I was pleasantly surprised by the enjoyment level and quality level given to us here.
Ethan Wate (Alden Ehrenreich) is a young high school student stuck in a dingy little town in South Carolina. A dreamer at heart, he longs for something more than just growing up to work in the lumber mill and marry his high school girlfriend. Unfortunately, life is pretty much the same hum-drum existence that most of the other townsfolk experience until a girl with checkered family reputation come to town. Lena Duchannes (Alice Englert), is the daughter of one of the town founder’s descendants, a rich and standoffish family that the townsfolk chew through the rumor mill as “Satanists” and “Magic users” and other such sundry tidbits of gossip. Now the problem is, they aren’t completely wrong. The Duchannes are “casters,” otherwise known as practitioners of magic. Keeping themselves hidden, they have shifted from one town to the next trying to keep Lena safe. It appears that a family curse has haunted them for generations and with Lena rapidly approaching her “coming of age” ceremony, her powers will be claimed for either the light side or the dark side. Now, as you could have guessed, our two main characters are destined to be star crossed lovers. No matter what, Ethan is the perfect gentleman: charismatic, caring, sweet as can be and devoted beyond belief (basically everything a young girl dreams about). Even the roadblocks thrown up by her uncle Macon (Jeremy Irons) seems to have no effect on the young boy.
The real problem comes when Lena’s mother Sarafine (Emma Thompson) shows up to wield her dark sway over the girl, hoping to convert her to the dark side of the magical realm. Macon is struggling his best to keep Lena from giving into her darker emotions and hopes to keep her for the light side. His worry is that her feelings of Ethan will cause her to lose control if manipulated and have her give in to the evil of Sarafine. As guessed, the two lovers have to figure out a way to break the curse, stay together, if at all possible and defeat Sarafine all in the course of a 2 hour film.
“Beautiful Creatures” is by no means an awful film. Its clichéd romantically (as guessed), and it struggles to define itself, but if you’re a fan of the “Twilight” type of movie (or are married to someone who is) then this will definitely be right down your alley. Ethan and Lena’s romance is about as clichéd as you can really get. Both of them are passionately in love and no force on earth can keep them apart. Even the powerful magic of her uncle Macon is ineffective. The accents are just a bit forced and a little too fake for my liking, but you get used to them soon enough. The real fun is given by the enigmatic and perfectly evil Ridley (Emmy Rossum) and Jeremy Irons. Like Peter Stormaire, Jeremy Irons is just a master at eating the entire scenery in a film. A standout actor, he breathes some life into what otherwise is a stale and by the numbers film.
The main issue with the film is that it takes itself WAAAAAAAAAAAY too seriously. Had it gone in the direction of being a bit more lighthearted and tongue in cheek it might have been a good bit better, but it seems the author and directors decided to make this a “reverse Twilight" and have it be just as serious and brooding. Instead of a supernatural boy who falls for the normal girl, we have a powerful female character and the boy is the one who’s out of his league. The melodrama just seeps through every pore and eventually taints the movie.
Strangely enough, they played it safe with this film and tried to keep it self-contained. No other film is really needed to “get” the storyline, but they STILL kept it wide open for a sequel. As a result the film just can’t seem to make up its mind and tries to straddle the fence, and as we know, straddling the fence just tends to end up hurting the one straddling.
Rated PG-13 for violence, scary images and some sexual material
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=11735[/img]The video for “Beautiful Creatures” is a very serviceable 2.39:1 AVC encode, not as luscious and fantastic as they have been for quite some time, it tends to lose a lot of detail from a very soft encode. I never saw the film in the theater, so I can’t comment on if it was intentional or not, but there seemed to be a soft “layer” over the entire film. It didn’t help that the film was shot in the dark for most of the movie and as a result made shadow detail and blacks a bit hit or miss. The black levels themselves were very good, but that softness just seeps into just about every scene robbing us of fine detail. Many of the close up shots had stunning picture quality only to be inconsistently shifted to another shot devoid of all that lovely detail. Colors were decent, given a dark Teal hue for the dark scenes and that famous orange tinge for the outdoor daylight scenes tended to give the film a dark and muted palette. Still the colors that WERE present were well saturated. Deep rich hues of blues and blacks dominate the screen with intermittent primary colors showing up vividly in contrast. There were a few issues of banding and aliasing, but that was fairly rare. Overall a decent encode, but nothing to call home about
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=11733[/img]The audio was definitely a step up. Rich and encompassing for the most part it livens up the sound stage with some deep and shuddering LFE scenes. When the casters are pulling out the big guns, the subs just shake the walls with intensity and power. Surrounds are used extremely well and draw the user into the world of magic and spells. Dialogue is crisp and clean, locked to the front speakers with mild panning. Well balanced, the track never once makes you raise or lower the volume to make up sound effects blasting you in your seat or muted vocals. It can be a bit front heavy at times, but that's to be expected from a dramatic film with lots of personal interaction rather than a straight up action film, and doesn't have any negativity shown on the actual encode.
• Behind the Scenes
• Deleted Scenes
“Beautiful Creatures” is trying so hard to gain the popularity and appeal of “Twilight”, but seemed to fail in the box office in that regard. Personallyb I find the film a definite step up from the insipid vampire films that it tries to emulate, and has its own charms and attractions. The problem is that film stumbles in its quest for mimicking “Twilight” and that will be its undoing. Mix that with some fairly mediocre video and extras and I recommend this only for “Twilight” fans or at the very most a rental for everyone else.
Starring: Alice Englert, Alden Ehrenreich, Emma Watson, Jeremy Irons
Directed by: Richard LaGravenese
Written by: Richard LaGravenese
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, Spanish, French DD 5.1
Studio: Warner Brothers
Runtime: 124 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: May 21st, 2013
Available on Blu-ray combo pack, DVD and Digital Download
Buy Beautiful Creatures Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Rent It
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