New York Comic-Con: BEAUTIFUL CREATURES Panel Recap; Unfolding a Southern-Set Coming-of-Age Romantic Drama with Sorceresses

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Even though the trailer for Richard LaGraveneseBeautiful Creatures is online, I decided to go into the New York Comic-Con panel cold.  This approach worked well for The Conjuring, and I’m always ready to be pleasantly surprised by a film.  LaGravenese’s film certainly has a cast worthy of our attention: Emma Thompson, Viola Davis, Jeremy Irons, and Emmy Rossum star alongside up-and-coming lead actors Alice Englert and Alden Ehrenreich.  But as for what the movie is about, that’s a bit harder to explain.

Hit the jump for my recap of the Beautiful Creatures panel, and click here for all of our New York Comic-Con coverage.

emmy-rossum-beautiful-creaturesThe panel opens with the moderator bringing on stage LaGravenese, Ehrenreich, Rossum, co-stars Thomas Mann and Zoey Deutch, authors Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, and producer Broderick Johnson.  Then they show us a featurette for the film, which doesn’t really make the plot very clear beyond the romance between caster (a.k.a. witch) Lena (Englert) and regular-guy Ethan (Ehrenreich), and the looming threats of Lena’s cousin Ridley (Rossum) and Mrs. Lincoln (Thompson).  Macon Ravenwood (Irons) and Amma (Davis) also factor into the film in some place, and I think they’re casters, but I’m not absolutely sure.  We also take a look at the costumes, and all of the cast talks up the movie without actually conveying what the movie is about.  It’s a “something-for-everyone” kind of film according to the talking heads.

LaGravenese tries to set up a clip where we’re supposed to see a magic fight between Lena and Ridley at the dinner table, but instead we get a new trailer (there were technical difficulties throughout the day at the IGN theater), which does a better job than the featurette of explaining the movie’s setting and conflicts.  In the trailer, we see how Ridley is “claimed dark” and why that’s a threat to Lena.  After the trailer, Rossum says the flashback is a way to show what Lena could become.  Garcia says that it’s called “the claiming” because you’re claimed a light-caster or a dark-caster, but Lena wants to make the decision for herself.

beautiful-creatures-viola-davis-alice-englert-alden-ehrenreichNotes from the Q&A:

  • Rossum said she had read the three or four of the books before joining the film.
  • Ridley is a “siren-caster”, so she can control people, while Lena is a “natural-caster”, which means she can control the elements (air, earth, wind, etc).
  • Panelists talk about their favorite things when it came to making the film: Johnson liked LaGravenese’s attention to detail with regards to characters.  Rossum said she liked filming her scenes because the character gets to eats candy, fruits, and other sweet things.  Alden liked working with the cast, as well as getting to do wire work to “fly like Peter Pan”.
  • Rossum said she just recorded a new album, and there will also be some of her singing in the film.  Her new album will be out at the beginning of 2013.
  • Johnson said he thought Beautiful Creatures would be a good movie as opposed to a TV series because it has the elements that make the genre popular, but he could then combine it with LaGravenese’s skills.
  • The writers felt that they had a “kindred spirits” meeting with LaGravenese and gave him carte blanche from then on.

Final thoughts: I’m still not sure what to expect from Beautiful Creatures.  The plot may be too convoluted for a trailer and a featurette, or it may be too complex.  I’m hoping it’s the latter.

Beautiful Creatures opens February 13, 2013.

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