Earlier this year, writer-director Richard LaGravenese (P.S. I Love You) brought a modern-day star-crossed romance to life in his adaptation of the young adult novel, Beautiful Creatures. The supernatural Southern Gothic tale from authors Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl centers on Ethan, a teenage boy in South Carolina who reconsiders his plans to leave the small town of Gatlin behind him when a mysterious new girl arrives at school. Ethan bites off more than he can chew with Lena, a descendant of a supernatural family of Casters with powerful abilities and deadly curses. Starring Alden Ehrenreich, Alice Englert, Zoey Deutch, Thomas Mann, Viola Davis, Emmy Rossum, Emma Thompson and Jeremy Irons, Beautiful Creatures is now available on Blu-ray. Hit the jump for my review.
Since we didn’t review Beautiful Creatures during its theatrical release, I’ll add my thoughts here. I should say that I haven’t read the books, so I won’t be able to comment on how faithful LaGravenese’s adaptation was. I’m not entirely sure if a negative reaction from novel fans was responsible for the ugly box office results or if the following simply didn’t have the fervor that The Twilight Saga enjoyed. From the getgo, I was impressed with LaGravenese’s sense of style and world building in this small Southern town. It’s a testament to authors Garcia and Stohl that this particular love story was more unique and engaging than others I’ve seen in recent years, as it’s told from the point of view of Ethan (Ehrenreich), who meets a supernatural and powerful heroine in Lena (Englert). This puts all the power in Lena’s hands and all of the responsibilities of courting on Ethan’s shoulders. The relationship works for the most part; it’s the over-reliance on the supporting cast and a fizzling third act that really hinders Beautiful Creatures.
Make no mistake, when your supporting cast features Irons, Thompson and Davis, it makes sense to rely on them. But when it comes to the star-crossed lovers, the focus and the major plot points should feature the leads and not the co-stars. Nowhere is this more evident than in Rossum’s character, Ridley, who is featured quite a bit in the film without even factoring in the number of deleted scenes she would have appeared in. Rossum is quite capable but her character feels forced in this particular story. There’s a major plot point that happens towards the middle of the third act that makes the climactic moment lose a bit of steam, however, I don’t think it’s nearly as bad as the reviews paint it. If nothing else, it’s a twist on a paranormal love story set in a lush Southern Gothic environment that’s a rather fun world to visit. Be sure to give this one a rent if you missed it in the theaters.
Book to Screen
- Cast and crew talk about focusing on the male perspective of a love story, as well as working in the Southern Gothic aesthetic. Authors Garcia and Stohl also comment on LaGravenese’s interpretation of their vision.
- An explanation of the light and dark powers of the Casters, as well as the central ceremony, “The Claiming.”
Between Two Worlds
- Commentary on the collision of the normal and the magical world, plus a character breakdown of the dark Casters, Ridley and Sarafine.
- A featurette about the love story and chance meeting between Lena and Ethan.
- A featurette focusing on the film’s visual effects. Though LaGravenese didn’t want to rely only on special effects, there are over 500 shots throughout the film that are a mixture of basic composites and CG-heavy effects.
- The production team goes into detail on such scenes as the spinning dining room, the ghost world, Genevieve’s transformation, dark energy taking over various characters, the bounding spell and the final storm.
- Costume Designer Jeffrey Kurland talks about designing costumes for the Civil War reenactment, the outfits of the Casters for the Claiming ceremony, the antebellum dresses and Ridley’s diverse set of costumes.
- Ridley Entices Link
- Ethan Calls on Emily
- Caster Party (with a better look at the costumes during the Claiming)
- Movie Theater (Showing Link and Lena meet)