Title: Beautiful Creatures
Director: Richard LaGravenese
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With the completion of the Twilight franchise there was an obvious market opportunity for yet another romantic fantasy involving vampires, werewolves, zombies or witches. The "creatures" in this latest production are witches, and as the film is based on a series of young adult books there is a strong likelihood of sequels.
Richard LaGravenese has an extensive and reasonably distinguished career as a screenwriter, but his occasional tilt at directing does unfortunately include the cringe-worthy PS, I Love You. LaGravenese is writer/director of Beautiful Creatures, which is based on the book of the same name by Kami Potter and Margaret Stohl.
The film is set in smalltown Gatlin, South Carolina, a bible-thumping, book-banning locale where the conservative townsfolk don't like witches or "liberals and Greenpeace and whatever else". Young Ethan Wate (Alden Ehrenreich), an avid reader of banned books, is keen to escape Gatlin when the "girl of his dreams" literally turns up at school. Newcomer Lena Duchannes (Alice Englert) is shunned by the other students mainly because her strange, reclusive uncle Macon Ravenwood (Jeremy Irons) is assumed to be the local devil worshipper.
Lena comes from a family of witches or "casters", and approaching her 16th birthday she faces the all-important teen/witch decision of choosing a life of good or evil. Nonetheless romance blossoms until wacky family matters, age-old family curses and climactic special effects get in the way.
The early parts of Beautiful Creatures actually work well, and the leads Ehrenich and Englert (daughter of Jane Campion) are both charming and even witty.
But as the film plods along, things get seriously out of hand when the Gothic over-kill kicks in with sartorially splendid Jeremy Irons and Emma Thompson, as Lena's mother, chewing the scenery and turning any sense of drama into a damp, camp melodrama.
The cinematography by award-winning Philippe Rousselot is outstanding, but some of the acting is pure ham and this over-long film overstays any early welcome and just gets sillier as it moves towards the inevitable and surprisingly poor CGI climax. But regardless of taste or quality, a healthy box office for Beautiful Creatures will certainly ensure some witchy sequels to fill the Twilight void.
Beautiful Creatures is screening at Birch Carroll & Coyle Cinemas, Lismore.
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