Monday, February 25, 2013

Beautiful Creatures ★★★★


Have you noticed there is a lot of supernatural loving going on lately at the cinema? Every trailer before the screening of BEAUTIFUL CREATURES was for a Fantasy-Romance film with either zombies, vampires or aliens.  Of course, it’s the story of Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ for the modern age.   And why not?  Star-crossed lovers, fighting to be together against all reason and parental approval, makes for a great story.   If it’s good enough for the mythical Gods of Greece, then it is good enough for the electronic-gadgetry-toting youth of today.
This year in book and film, it is going to be hard to avoid this genre, and Beautiful Creatures is a good example (please note Twilight producers) of how to make an entertaining, authentic film which can please fans of supernatural love as well as the non-converted.  The New York Times bestselling book of the same name is the first in the series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.
Ethan (Alden Ehrenreich), a high school senior wants nothing more than to escape the Southern town of Gatlin and bid adieu to his Father who has withdrawn from life since the sudden death of his Mother.   For months he has dreamed of a strange, dark-haired girl he has never met.   Arriving suddenly in his class is a new girl, Lena Duchannes (Alice Englert), looking a lot like his dream sweetheart.  She is immediately ostracized, as she is the niece of Macon Ravenwood (Jeremy Irons), the reclusive owner of Ravenwood Manor who most townsfolk believe is in cahoots with the devil.  Let’s face it, people who live in those big, creepy mansions usually are.
Mrs. Lincoln (Emma Thompson), mother of Ethan’s best friend is adamant that Lena must be banished from the town and spends a good deal of time pointing fingers and rallying the townsfolk against the young girl.
Despite strange happenings that surround Lena, and her spurning of his advances, Ethan ardently pursues her.    Lena reveals that she is a Caster, as is her Uncle, and each Caster has a special power.   On her sixteenth birthday Lena will discover which side she will practice her Casting based on her true inner self. Will she be chosen for the much more charming Light or the evil-doing Dark?  The entire clan, including Lena, fear she will be taken by the Dark which will prove to be very bad for the human race.  There’s also a curse hanging over Lena’s family and she and Ethan face many spells and dangers and even their love may prove fatal.
Beautiful Creatures is a stylish story, a cut above the Twilight Saga’s progressively more outlandish portrayals. There is a wit in the script and Thompson and Irons, who could have lapsed into overdramatics, rein it in enough to lend a sophistication that is usually lacking in these supernatural tales. 
Whilst I am not an urban-fantasy fan, I certainly can appreciate a story well-told.  And as the great man said himself, “a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.” This love story smells of success and with four more books ,no doubt the sequels will be gracing our screens in the years to come.   If they’re as good as this, we are definitely on the side of Light.

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