I read the book a while ago, so I needed a little refresher course to jog my memory before diving into the movie adaptation. My impression of the first installment itself swayed a bit into the negative territory, as I deemed the book to be way too long for a series and guilty of over-description act. I guess that is what happened when you put two female authors to work on the same book.
Beautiful Creatures tells the story of a guy named Ethan Wate, played by Alden Ehrenreich, who has been having the same dream over and over about a dark-haired girl he doesn’t know. He lives in Gatlin, a small Southern town, which is famous for its civil war reenactments and nothing else. Being bored out of his mind with little to do, he can’t wait to get out of town and start his college life somewhere far, far away. That was his plan until he meets Lena Duchannes, an out-of-town girl who is a relative of the infamous Ravenwood family in town. Ethan begins to slowly pierce the barrier between Lena’s reclusive uncle and the town’s people, and integrate himself into the family’s life. He gets to know Lena as the girl from his dream and as one of the Casters – a breed of people capable of performing magic of good or bad nature. Casters are claimed as Light or Dark on their 16th birthday, a day that Lena dreads as she thinks her nature would steer her to follow her mother’s footsteps and turn her into a Dark Caster. The fate of each of the Duchannes’s name bearers turning Dark when they reach sixteen is avoidable. A curse from Lena’s great-great-great grandmother binds every Duchannes to go Dark, including Lena’s cousin, Ridley. Sarafine, Lena’s mother, and Ridley are adamant that Lena would follow the tradition no matter how hard she resists, but Ethan and Lena try to look for the curse’s breaker anyway before Lena’s 16th birthday. It finally manifests through the help of Amma, Ethan’s family friend, in the form of a promise – that Lena’s would have to kill someone she loved most in order to avoid going Dark.
I won’t spoil the story any further for those who haven’t watched it, but I can say that the movie adaptation does stick to the major points in the book’s story-telling, though somewhat weaker in script. Some conversations come off as awkward and forced, and some scenes are even so blatantly cut and re-shot, ruining the atmosphere in the room and the chemistry of the characters. This movie possesses quite a collection of talented actors, with my favorite being Emma Thompson, Emmy Rossum, and one supporting actor named Zoey Deutch. What about the main characters, you ask? Well, Alice Englert just doesn’t have the same kind of presence that Alden Ehrenreichher, her paramour in the movie, commands. She is out-shined by her counterpart – big time – which shows in the chemistry. Say what you want about Twilight, but Robert and Kristen would still win this chemistry contest, hands down. Besides the solid acting from the supporting actors, the art direction and costumes in the movie are also commendable. Props for the director for being detail-oriented.
Overall, Beautiful Creatures is neither the best YA novel adaptation that I have ever watched nor the worst. In my opinion, it is a light, romantic, fantasy film that would be well-suited for girls from the age of 13+. I am too old for this movie to find it appealing. 6 out of 10.