“Beautiful Creatures” owes its existence to the unfortunate Twilight phenomenon, and suffers because of it.
The Twilight movies had Vampires and Werewolves, and pasty faced mopes glaring at each other- this one has Witches and a slightly higher grade of pasty faced mopes glaring at each other.
Based on a popular novel, Beautiful Creatures centers on a young frustrated high school student named Ethan (Alden Ehrenreich) who longs to escape the small minded thinking of his small town. On the first day of school he falls for a mysterious new girl named Lena (Alice Englert).
The catty cliques of the high school see her as a freak, but he loves her precisely because she’s not like everyone else in town. Turns out she’s a witch (or caster as they’re called). But her relationship with the thoughtful, introspective and challenging human threatens the entire world.
The film highlights the spooky southern gothic undercurrent lying just beneath the weeping willows of backwoods South Carolina. There are also the talented adults slumming in this ridiculous Y-A hokum. This time it’s a pair of Oscar winners in Jeremy Irons- playing up his devilish charm and aristocratic restraint- and Emma Thompson- who gets to go all Al Pacino on the place. They’re fighting over the soul of Lena.
When she turns 16 she will learn whether she is predestined to be a good witch or a bad witch. Female witches can’t change their nature- if they’re bad they’re bad no matter how hard they try. Men however can change at will. They can turn good after a lifetime of evil deeds. Irons was bad but has turned good to help influence his niece and save the souls of casters and humans alike. Thompson wants Lena to come to the dark side and rule the world.
You’d think a movie with the fate of the world at stake would contain some actual action. But instead it pretty much has the characters engage in what are essentially epic staring contests while a whirlwind of CGI swirls around them.
While the young couple at the center of it all are appealing, and thankfully Alice Englert is no Kristen Stewart- they’re frequently given next to nothing to do except recite overripe groan-inducing dialogue and scream in the rain. Irons and Thompson sink their teeth into their roles and sometimes overcome the limits of the subject matter and the unfortunately lame special effects department. But overall this is really just a Beautiful Bore.