Friday, February 15, 2013

Beautiful Creatures (2013)

Beautiful Creatures
Directed by Richard LaGravenese
Starring: Alden Ehrenreich, Alice Englert, Jeremy Irons, Viola Davis, Emma Thompson, Emmy Rossum, Dame Eileen Atkins, Margo Martindale
Grade: B

What is being billed as a potential new franchise aimed primarily at teen audiences – in the vein of “The Hunger Games” or “Twilight” – “Beautiful Creatures,” adapted from a novel by Kami Garcia, shows no signs of limiting itself to romantic young minds.  While this story of love and magic will likely appeal to a target demographic, surrounding the young central couple of Ehrenreich and Englert with a host of reputable actors, from Viola Davis to Dame Eileen Atkins, ensures that the film is more accessible to an older audience. Of course, it helps that LaGravenese’s deft script gives these actors so much to do, the dynamic between the spell-casting members of the mysterious Ravenwood family fascinatingly volatile, Jeremy Irons and Emma Thompson’s bristling standoff in a church allowing both actors to flex their acting muscle in ways we haven’t seen in a while, and Emmy Rossum an electric presence as the film's catty villain.

As the young lead of the film, Ehrenreich exerts such charm and charisma, elitist in the way that he observes the narrow-minded members of his small town, itching for an alien form of excitement he gratefully receives. He and Englert have a winning chemistry together, and it’s somewhat of a relief that the strength of their romance isn’t diluted by the overkill of the obstacles and constraints which come between them. Nevertheless, “Beautiful Creatures” has its problems: An excellent first hour is undone by some convoluted plot twists in the second, and its finale strangely appears to betray the already-established mechanics of its world. But once it has you in its stranglehold “Beautiful Creatures” won’t let go, beautifully nostalgic with its horror elements and lovingly new-age in its impression of star-crossed lovers separated by supernature. 

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