By Wilson Morales
Now that the ‘Twilight Saga’ has ended, every producer and studio are coming up with ways to capture the audience the franchise left behind in the hopes of spawning a profitable new series. So long as you have elements of the supernatural filled with a “Romeo and Juliet” love story, they should be able to attract teens and maybe adults looking for a good film to fill the void. With that said comes “Beautiful Creatures,” a film which features a set of newcomers (Alden Ehrenreich, Alice Englert, daughter of The Piano’s Jane Campion) and veterans (Jeremy Irons, Emma Thompson, and Viola Davis). With the exception of some jokes that never connect and a running time a little over two hours, the film is well acted and not as campy one might have expected. It’s an enjoyable evening’s crowd pleasure.
Set in South Carolina, 17 year-old Ethan Wate (Ehrenreich) is a bookworm who reads J. D. Salinger, Kurt Vonnegut, Henry Miller and others, when he’s not dreaming about some red-haired girl who he meets in the Civil War. Unlike his friends, he’s longing to leave the town of Gatlin when it’s time to go to college. With a father who’s never around, his caretaker is his deceased mother’s friend, the librarian Amma (Davis).
His life is about to change when new student Lena Duchannes enters his classroom. Apparently, her family (Ravenwood) is famous around Gatlin and known for being “witches.” She’s staying with her uncle Macon Ravenwood (Irons), who hasn’t been seen or left Ravenwood Manor in years. When classmates, including Ethan’s ex-girlfriend, start to tease Lena about her family, all of a sudden the windows shatter, leaving all to believe their suspicions that she’s a witch is true.
As Ethan starts to befriend Lena, she reluctantly accepts his friendship and tells him about her family background. Her family is not normal. She comes from a legacy of “casters”(instead of being called witches ), and on her upcoming 16th birthday, her destiny is that she will either turn to the dark side like her cousin Ridley (Emma Rossum) and aunt Sarafine (Thompson), or stay good like her uncle. Sarafine is playing both sides of the fence as she has stolen the body of Mrs. Lincoln, the town evangelist. It also seems that Lena and Ethan have been dreaming about each other for quite some time in another century and it’s a question of whether destiny wants them to be together or not.
Based on the novels by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, the leads (Ehrenreich, Englert) actually bring some enchantment to the typical boy-meets-girl drama. Director Richard LaGravenese carefully flushes out the romance between the two without letting it feel forced. In the past, you would normally see the human person (guy or girl) run away once they found out the truth about the other half, but lately, it’s becoming common to accept their supernatural powers and how to combat the forces that opposes the unity. Such is the case with ‘Creatures.’ It’s good to see Emma Thompson back in a film that gives her something creative to do. After a few ‘Nancy McPhee’ films, it almost seemed that the Oscar winner was simply taking in films for a check. She and Jeremy Irons seem to be having fun with their roles here, even when Thompson is overacting in some scenes. Emmy Rossum and Viola Davis are opposites who serve as the guiding forces for good and bad. In the end, ‘Creatures’ offers an entertaining coming-of-age drama filled with romance and fantasy that should appeal to the ‘Twilight’ crowd.