Rental Review - Beautiful Creatures

Beautiful Creatures (2013), PG-13, 124 minutes - One of my favorite things to do is to compare and contrast how a film differs from its source material.  Now before you give yourself a headache wondering when or why I read Beautiful Creatures, don't bother because I didn't.  My fiance did however.  From about half way through reading the book, she couldn't stop talking about wanting to see the movie.  So when she finished, I picked it up from redbox and we gave it a watch. I mention all of this because I was quite amused seeing someone else go through the struggle of watching something that doesn't quite meet their expectations.

Lena Duchannes (Alice Englert) is the new kid in school and a bit of an outcast because she keeps to herself as much as because of her family's odd reputation around the small southern town of Gatlin, South Carolina.  She also happens to be a witch (they prefer to be called Casters).  Ethan Wate (Alden Ehrenreich) is smart kid with aspirations of escaping the small town in which he was raised.  He falls for Lena when the town's reaction to her presence solidifies his feelings about wanting to leave the small, stuck in their ways, narrow minded town.  So there's the love story angle, but that's not all.  Lena is approaching her sixteenth birthday.  A birthday on which she will be 'claimed' by either the light or the dark (think Star Wars).  Her Grandfather, Macon Ravenwood (Jeremy Irons) has brought her to Gatlin in an attempt to hide her from the dark, but both her mother Sarafine (Emma Thompson) and her cousin Ridley (Emmy Rossum) are both trying to manipulate her towards the dark.  While trying to deal with all of this, Leva and Ethan also discover that his family has connections to the Caster world as well.

The story may focus on two younger actors/actresses, but the cast's strength is built on a trifecta of Oscar nominees and winners.  I've already mentioned Jeremy Irons and Emma Thompson (both Oscar winners), but Viola Davis (nominated twice) also gets in on the action.  Her role is relatively limited in this film, but from the looks of the story, she'll play a larger role in future installments (assuming they get made).

Beautiful Creatures is based on the first novel of the Caster Chronicles by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.  According to my better half, it begins and ends in about the same place that the book does, but that the journey is quite different.  Having not read the book I can't speak for this personally, but I can say that there were a couple of points in the movie that seemed a little disjointed to me (or were a bit confusing).  I can only assume that they wouldn't have been so muddy if I already had an understanding of what was supposed to be going on.  There are currently four books in the Caster Chronicles, and I have little doubt that the studios where hoping to turn Beautiful Creatures into the next supernatural franchise.  I was entertained enough to be curious about what comes next, but I don't have any plans to read the books.  So with a little luck, another film will be made and my maybe my questions will be addressed.


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