Double, double YOLO and LOL; fire burn, and teenage sexual desires bubble. Welcome to the world of Beautiful Creatures, a film that’s fighting so hard against its mystical lore that the word “witch” has become sacrilege and replaced with “caster” that develops into confusion as to whether the characters in this film are casting spells or just really into fishing. The world of witches has been put through the Hollywood prism of what studio executives and scriptwriters consider to be cool and it’s oozing with the angst of a teen that has just been banned from using Facebook for a week.
Set in a small southern town in America, Ethan Wate (Alden Ehren) meets the mysterious Lena (Alice Englert) and together they uncover dark secrets about their families while a romance develops.
Mature performances and pleasant chemistry between the two young leads, Ehren and Englert (even their names have a nice ring to it) keeps Beautiful Creatures grounded outside of its magical flailing. The love of books displayed by both Ethan and Lena shows they both drop an IQ higher than most characters in films aimed at a young audience and there is even a reading montage; put your hands up for literacy! Sadly, most supporting young characters come across as offspring from the shallow end of Forrest Gump’s family gene pool in contrast to the leads. Emma Thompson plays the film’s villainess with devilish charm but her fellow British passport holder, Jeremy Irons is stuck in accent limbo somewhere between the UK, Mississippi and a mouth full of marbles playing an elder caster.
The plot focuses on the war between good and evil *film translation* a battle between “the light” and “the dark” (been watching any Star Wars’ lately?) over Lena who is approaching her sixteenth birthday that’s a huge metaphor for that time in a girl’s life when tampon commercials start to make sense. For a film with a group of powerful females at its core there is a scary undercurrent of misogyny at work implying heavily that women have two paths in life: crazy evil psycho person or psycho crazy evil person. It’s a shame because Lena’s character is established as a confident and slightly snarky teen best showcased via snippy dialogue provided by screenwriter/director, Richard LaGravenese.
Beautiful Creatures is stacked with too many supernatural platitudes and towards the finale LaGravenese is so focused on films beyond the first effort that a post-credits apology is required if the series doesn’t continue.
Cameron Williams - follow Cam on Twitter here: @popcornjunkies