There is absolutely no doubt in our minds that Warner Bros. produced Beautiful Creatures in order to feed the hungry teens who crave movies like Twilight. The two share a lot of the same elements, but the Richard LaGravenese-directed fantasy has something the original never had: a sense of humor about itself.

The Players:

The Plot:

Ethan (Ehrenreich) is a typical 17-year-old living in the small town of Gatlin, South Carolina. One day, he meets a mysterious new girl in class, Lena (Englert), who lives at the forbidden Ravenwood Manor. When he follows her home, he meets her eccentric uncle Macon (Irons) and soon starts to uncover dark secrets about his and Lena’s respective families, their history and their town.

The Good:

  • The Performances: LaGravenese brought together a nice assortment of actors, from Jeremy Irons to Viola Davis to the young and mostly unknown leads. Irons is particularly great in the role of uncle Macon. It’s like this character was specifically made for him. Emmy Rossum doesn’t appear until the second half of the movie, but she makes a striking and sensuous entrance. Her evil Ridley is one of the most fun characters to watch, along with Emma Thompson’s wicked Sarafine. But even with these amazing veteran actors, it’s the Alice Englert and Alden Ehrenreich who carry the movie with their performances and palpable chemistry.
  • The Chemistry: This movie has casters (a.k.a. witches) and seers and magical libraries, but the main focus is on the love story. Fortunately, the chemistry between Englert and Ehrenreich feels real. The director took the time to develop their romance, and allows the audience to fall in love with them as they fall in love with each other. This is the glue that holds this movie together.
  • Clever & Funny: There’s a lot of intentional laughs in this movie. For once, the characters are in on the joke. The comedy does a nice job of balancing the drama, romance and magical elements. It’s nice to have a teen movie like this that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

The Bad:

  • The Special Effects: What is it with these movies and special effects? There’s one scene where the Ravenwood family comes together for dinner, and Lena and Ridley get into a huge argument. Soon, the table starts spinning and food is flying everywhere. It’s a fun scene… with absolutely horrible visual effects.
  • Not Enough Evil: This film is based on the young adult novel by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. The book is nearly 600-pages long so a lot didn’t make it into the movie. We haven’t read the books so we don’t know what’s missing, but at times, it felt like there wasn’t enough evil in the mix. Thompson’s Sarafine is a wicked character, but she’s no Voldemort. Macon refers to her as the most powerful caster of all, but we don’t really get a sense of that. We would’ve liked to see more of Sarafine in order to really grasp her darkness.

Overall:

Beautiful Creatures is a genre movie with its own DNA. It’s a clever and funny fantasy that offers great performances, solid chemistry and a heartfelt Romeo and Juliet-type story. Despite the poor visual effects, it’s worth watching.

The Rating: 7.5/10

Beautiful Creatures opens in theaters January 14, 2013.

Photo Gallery:

Trailer:

Will you be seeing Beautiful Creatures this weekend?