Beautiful Creatures Review
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When the first Twilight movie hit theaters in 2008, it kicked off a new trend in moody supernatural teen dramas. Since then, one franchise after another has jumped on the bandwagon, trying to capitalize on Twilight’s success. Very few of them, however, have been particularly memorable—including the teen witch drama, Beautiful Creatures.

When Lena Duchannes (Alice Englert) arrives in the small town of Gatlin, South Carolina, she causes quite a stir. The townspeople seem to think that her uncle, Macon Ravenwood (Jeremy Irons), is some kind of devil worshipper—so Lena must be evil, too.

But Ethan Wate (Alden Ehrenreich) doesn’t believe their silly rumors. He’s intrigued by the beautiful loner who shares his love of reading—so he sets out to befriend her, no matter how much she resists. He soon learns that Lena has a secret: she comes from a family of Casters (a.k.a. witches). When she turns 16, in just a matter of days, she’ll be claimed for either the dark or the light—and if she’s claimed for the dark, it could bring about the end for mortals.

For the most part, Beautiful Creatures is like every other supernatural teen romance that you’ve seen (or skipped) in the last four or five years. It’s dark and moody and melodramatic, and it features an ill-advised relationship between a reluctant supernatural teen and an unsuspecting (but obsessively, recklessly devoted) mortal. It’s all a little overdone—and the romance is often unbearably sappy for anyone who’s old enough to vote.

The story, meanwhile, is weak and forgettable. The conflict isn’t particularly well-developed—nor is it especially interesting. Perhaps fans of the book (by author Kami Garcia) will have a better grasp of the characters’ background—and the curse that threatens to wreak havoc in some unspecified way. But, considering its drawn-out, two-hour runtime, the film should have been a lot more interesting and suspenseful.

The one thing about the film that truly stands out is its cast. While Englert is nothing special as the sullen teen witch-in-waiting, Ehrenreich is anything but the usual teen hunk. He’s folksy and overwhelmingly Southern, with a kind of dim-witted, Gomer Pyle quality to him. At times, it’s endearing—but the aw, shucks act eventually wears a bit thin.

The adult cast, however, is the big surprise. It’s rare to find big names like Jeremy Irons, Emma Thompson, and Viola Davis in a teen romance like this one—and all three seem to give the film a little more credibility. If nothing else, their performances are enjoyable—from Thompson’s wild performance as the prim-and-proper but possessed Mrs. Lincoln to Irons’s smooth turn as the mysterious Southern gentleman.

Beautiful Creatures definitely has its share of highs (like the beautifully creepy South Carolina setting) and lows (like the laughably cheesy effects). But, in the end, they generally balance each other out, resulting in a passable but completely forgettable teens-only supernatural romance.

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