I Actually Enjoyed It! – Beautiful Creatures

Directed by: Richard LaGravenese
Produced by: Andrew A. Kosove, Broderick Johnson, Erwin Stoff & David Valdes
Starring: Alden Ehrenreich, Alice Englert, Jeremy Irons, Viola Davis, Emmy Rossum, Thomas Mann, Emma Thompson, Eileen Atkins, Margo Martindale, Zoey Deutch & Tiffany Boone
Budget: $60 million
Box office: $60,052,138
Release Date: February 14, 2013

You know there’s little worse than having what was a thoroughly enjoyable experience ruined right at the end because of one oversight or bad decision. Take for example a 3 course dinner at a Michelin Star restaurant; the scallops for starter are spot on, the steak for the main course is cooked just to the level you like and the service so far has been exceptional. Then just as you finish telling your lady how much your thoroughly rating the experience a greasy haired teenager whose work clothes look like they’ve been slept in unceremoniously drops an out-of-date jam sponge onto the table, thrusts the evenings tab into your chest and calls you a ‘bell-end’ before sauntering back to the kitchen.

Now believe me I’m far from an expert on any restaurants that have any type of star rating that they feel is worth flaunting but I can imagine the feeling after the above being at least mildly similar to how I felt after watching Beautiful Creatures.

Beautiful Creatures, adapted from the novel of the same name by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, was released just over 2 years ago during the peak of the Young Adult Adaptation boom and much like Divergent it offers little in the way of originality. In fact it was labelled by some as a Twilight clone that does nothing to distinguish itself except reverse the roles between the two protagonists. Due to this the film struggled with the critics and currently holds 46% on Rotten Tomatoes, a rating that’s criminally low in my opinion but perhaps even more criminally the thing didn’t make any money! Unlike many other films in this series Beautiful Creatures barely recouped its budget. However, it offers strong performances from its solid cast that make you genuinely root for the heroes, a familiar but heart-felt and engrossing plot and some pretty neat special effects sprinkled throughout and because of this I actually enjoyed it.

As already mentioned one of the strongest things about Beautiful Creatures is the cast; they are, in my opinion, exceptional. Alden Ehrenreich’s portrayal of love-sick protagonist Ethan is charming, witty and achieves the one thing that so many lead males fail to achieve in these modern YA Adaptations in that he actually comes across as a nice guy! Seriously, you can’t help but get behind him and want things to go right for him because he seems like such a genuine kid and achieves a level of likeability that the likes of Robert Pattison could only dream of. Similar can be said for Alice Englert as witch/caster Lena and the only thing that can be faulted with Emma Thompson’s performance is that we don’t really see enough of her. I can’t finish this paragraph without mentioning Jeremy Irons and predictably enough he is full of his usual eccentric energy and natural charm giving you the impression that he’s thoroughly enjoying himself. Too often high profile actors of his kind are bought into this type of film purely for names sake so it’s refreshing to see such enthusiasm.

It’s not hard to see early on that this adventure is of a far smaller scale than that of Twilight and certainly Hunger Games but most uses of special effects are well done and never feel shoe-horned in due to the fact that they are used sparingly. A scene involving a spinning dinner table is a particular highlight along with one involving Ethan repeatedly trying to enter the gate of Lena’s home but having it pulled further ahead of him each time.

As already mentioned, the plot is far from original but it’s executed in such an intriguing way that it almost feels like it is. I hate to spend so much time comparing Beautiful Creatures to Twilight but it ultimately succeeds by providing a similar premise and executing it in a vastly superior manor. The characters are likeable and relatable instead of broody and un-grounded, the behaviour of said characters in the situations presented is believable and the film has a surprisingly dark sense of humour throughout that succeeds most of the time.

…But then it ends and unfortunately the one problem I had with Beautiful Creatures is with its ending. I’m not in the business of posting spoilers, so relax, but this ending just didn’t sit well. What makes the story of Beautiful Creatures so powerful is that unlike most YA Adaptations it has the stones to deal with the inevitable truth that no matter how much you might love someone sometimes it’s just not meant to be and sometimes if you love someone you have to let them go. An admirable concept but one that ultimately gets made to feel a bit redundant with this ending and in all honesty it does sour the experience slightly.

On the whole though, Beautiful Creatures is a film with a lot of heart and good intention that only lets itself down marginally with its ending. The acting is stellar, the effects are creative and it has a great sense of humour. Due to it being about as well received commercially as Terry Bollea’s sex tape; Beautiful Creatures is a pretty well-kept secret. However, it’s easily as good as any of its peers and I would wholly recommend it.

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