“Beautiful Creatures,” adapted from the book by the same name, is a story of young love, magic and the choice between good and evil. Unfortunately, the film’s lackluster acting and directing makes the movie a poor adaptation.
Set in the fictional small town of Gatlin, the movie tells the tale of Ethan Wate (Alden Ehrenreich) and Lena Duchannes (Alice Englert). Ethan, a junior in high school, falls for the mysterious new girl with strange powers, Lena. She has a dark past and a potentially even more troubling future. Their love story unfolds under the impending threat of Lena’s 16th birthday, when her magical gift will be claimed either for good or for evil.
Fans of the book series will be displeased to learn the movie holds only the faintest resemblance to the novel. Entire characters are missing from the film, and there are significant changes to the overall plot as well. The script is inconsistent at best, with many cheesy or unbelievable scenes.
Many of the characters are cliched stereotypes, such as Ethan’s character, the nice and attractive guy with no personality, and Ethan’s ex, Emily, the beautiful and popular mean girl. The actors do their best to overcome the weak writing and plot, and at times their natural talent shines through. However, it remains difficult to find the characters realistic, because the over-the-top scenes inhibit genuine character development. There are far too many scenes that lean on hyped-up teenage emotion and exaggerated special effects to give them urgency. To add to the film’s insincerity, several actors struggled to maintain a Southern accent throughout the film.
Despite the problematic script and acting performances, the remarkable visual aesthetics manage to redeem “Beautiful Creatures.” The green and vibrant views of nature shown throughout the film give it a burst of energy and add to the magical feel of the movie. The set design is also visually striking, particularly the inside of the Ravenwood Manor, which changes several times during the course of the movie. The characters’ costumes and the set design of the historical and magical scenes add elegance and drama to the piece.
“Beautiful Creatures” falls short of the mark on many counts. Its two-hour length, lack of character development and poor plot structure all make what could have been a great movie average at best. Diehard fans of the series who don’t mind the wild liberties taken might find it worth their time. Otherwise, this film is a good one to skip.
1 ½ stars
Acting and writing fail to stimulate in the film adaptation of the original novel, “Beautiful Creatures.”