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Lauren's Movie Reviews (5)

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2.5/4
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Beautiful Creatures (2013) 
All That Glitters Is Not Gold
1.5/4 stars

The mad dash to find a replacement for the Twilight franchise has lead to the translation of "Beautiful Creatures" from page to screen. The themes, substance, and depth of the book were lost in that translation, much to the disappointment of most fans of this book series. I agree with Paula in that the writers and director chose scenes from the book that would be the most beautiful and visually interesting to focus on, while leaving any moments of substance on the cutting room floor. Fan of the book series or not, this film is the victim of sloppy story telling that depends entirely on the cast, costume, and special effects. I’m guessing that the cutting and combining of characters was meant to simplify the storyline and cut costs, but the result is a sequence of confusing scenes that lack cohesion.

Any and all surprises and emotion inducing moments that would have showcased the skills of this amazing cast were condensed between “Twilight-esque” stare offs between the two leads. This particularly dreadful because the central themes of the “Beautiful Creatures” novels series revolve around questions about what makes a family and the incredible sacrifices made for the greater good of those you love and community at large. Considering that the director decided to focus so heavily on this romance, Alice Englert and Alden Ehrenreich have no chemistry. Everything that could have shown and developed their chemistry was left on the cutting room floor. The debute for these actors did nothing to show off whatever talent they might have.

The filmmakers created a beautiful magical world that they didn’t want to spend any time explaining. Any explanation they did offer was labored, forced, and condensed to forgettable moments that you would have missed if you blinked. They reconstructed the story line, but then didn’t stick to the rules or explanations they gave for it to where all that’s left with is disappointment and questions. It was almost like they were afraid the source material would overtake them, so they barely touched it. The Amma character was so tightly condensed and packaged that all of her scenes made little to no sense. She was the catch all and scapegoat used to tie up any loose ends or things they didn’t want to explain. The talent of Viola Davis is wasted on this character and I have no idea how she got pulled into to this movie.

Emma Thompson’s Sarafine was to be the stuff of nightmares but fell flat and she came off like the neighborhood crazy lady that got super powers. Jeremy Irons’ character was originally a completely different species of person which perfectly explained his actions and motivations. This was changed in the movie, but the film never figured out another way to answer how his character the is the head of the family and was able to overcome the monstrous transformation into a Dark Caster for the sake of his niece if every other character’s personality instantaneously changed after they “turned dark” and they were immediately ejected from this family?

Like many movies targeted to the teen scene, this movie had problems with dealing with bigotry and racism. They water down any moments of bigotry or hatred with excuses for their characters. Mrs. Lincoln is horrible because her husband died, not because that was how she was raised. Emily is awful because she's dumb and doesn't know any better. There's this over arching idea that "people aren't really like this, it's just a movie, it's ok." They didn’t want to get their hands dirty by addressing these issues and it made this aspect of the story and these characters a joke in the wrong way. Can anyone explain to me how after they make sure that everything Creole and southern is ripped from the Amma character and then she ends up in a swamp, having convulsion visions, half naked, covered I tribal tattoos? Yeah. (I sited more of this in the Talk Forum Section.)

The set design and locations were beautiful and beautifully done. But some of the concepts were as restrained as the story telling. The source material treats each location as its own living character. Some places are ominous and all of them have a heavy feeling of history and a sense of age. In the film, each location is just a back drop for the story and isn’t really part of the story, with the exception of Ravenwood. There’s no sense that it matters that this story is set in this particular town because it has no personality. I find the stereo typical watered down Hollywood style depiction of the South to be insulting and more of a caricature of what it’s like in those small towns without meaning to be. The women who wrote these books did their homework and they understand what it’s like in the South, this is something else that did not translate to the movies.

Recommendations:

Reading the book before seeing this movie doesn’t do the movie any favors.

Seeing the movie works if:

-you’ll accept and are excited by any interpretation that brings these characters to life
-costumes are your thing
-you are really into stage sets and special effects
-you want to see Emmy Rossem being evil and sexy
-you want to see Emma Thompson impersonating Tilda Swinton


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