Beautiful Creatures, if it pleases any audience, will certainly make the fans of the blockbuster book series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl very happy. Their novel is a bestselling saga in dozens of countries with millions of fans and the film could achieve a Twilight franchise-type pop culture earthquake. But, for those who either have not heard of the phenomenon or simply haven't read the books, does Beautiful Creatures make a good film?
Introduced in the Beautiful Creatures trailer, Alice Englert is Lena, a Caster (kind of a witch) who is quickly approaching her 16th birthday. She has moved back to her family's ancestral home in South Carolina as fate is knocking on her door. It seems that when a Caster turns 16, she is either called to the dark or light side of the magical world.
Watching over her is her uncle Macon (a wickedly good Jeremy Irons), who is determined that his niece belongs on the more admirable side of good versus evil. But, when she catches the eye of a fellow high school student named Ethan (Alden Ehrenreich)... her future may be threatened -- or so Macon believes.
Abruptly as all of this drama is swirling, her cousin shows up. Ridley is a mischievous Caster who seems to want to push Lena over to the dark side as she causes havoc in the small town. Emmy Rossum chews up the scenery in the role and Movie Fanatic would love to see her play more devilish roles in the future!
The entire Beautiful Creatures cast is pure magic. They all have a blast living in this world, but if there is someone who steals the entire film, it is Emma Thompson. The British actress straddles two roles (we're not giving any more details than that!). When we spoke exclusively to authors Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, they said they expected one of the roles that Thompson plays would be created via CG. But with Thompson's uncanny talents, she is a marvel and needs no computer-generated help.
Viola Davis tackles a character that was two people in the book series and effortlessly molds them into one magical person. She, in many ways, is the heart of the film and the actress continues her stellar streak that could have been capped with her Oscar-nominated turn in The Help.
And don't get us started on Irons. He sinks his teeth into the role of Macon and enthralls us further as the film goes on. But, as this is the story of two teens in forbidden love, the young actors portraying Ethan and Lena are up to the task of meeting and exceeding the acting gauntlet thrown down by the veterans on this cast.
Englert and Ehrenreich have an electric chemistry that elevates the movie beyond young adult novel stereotypes and into a cinematic world of romance worthy of the film's Valentine's Day release date. For one, Ehrenreich should be an actor we hear a lot more from in the future.
Overall, our Beautiful Creatures review has to state that at some points in the story, we found ourselves lost. Being aware of the story in the books may have helped, but filmmakers have to assume making their movie that their audience is a blank slate and it is their job to fill in all the blanks. Unfortunately, some blanks are still left open to interpretation and what happens in a few parts of the film may have audiences thinking completely different things.
But Beautiful Creatures is a solid start to introducing us to the world created by Garcia and Stohl. We do look forward to subsequent cinematic chapters of the world and are keenly curious as to how Lena and Ethan will fare.