Written by Kristen Lopez
I enjoy being surprised at a well-done movie, particularly if it’s in the squalid, increasingly boring teen genre. Having never read the original source material from which Beautiful Creatures is adapted from, I had some reservations about its story involving witches and forbidden love. Thankfully, my hesitations were unfounded and Beautiful Creatures is one of the few enjoyable teen films out there today (sadly, its bombing at the box office will put the kibosh on future installments). While the Blu-ray is beautiful, you need to enjoy the movie itself because the bonus features are fairly weak. It’s not a huge problem because the strong cast and script creates a motion picture worth adding to your collection.
In a world of light and dark “casters” (aka witches), a small Southern town is rocked when mysterious Lena Duchannes (Alice Englert) arrives and falls in love with Ethan Wate (Alden Ehrenreich). Unfortunately, a curse is set to doom their love, and Lena must control her powers unless she wants to risk destroying the boy she loves.
The world created by director/screenwriter Richard LaGravenese is what works to great effect in Beautiful Creatures. The audience is never inundated with information, nor are we force-fed to believe this world is real. The characters give necessary exposition as needed, and the mortal characters question the audacity of the mysticism that goes on around them. Kudos to finding such realistic leads in Englert (daughter of director Jane Campion) and Ehrenreich. Both have an organic, passionate chemistry – no chaste romance for these two – and are poised to be great actors; Englert, in particular, has a sensuous, natural quality to her acting. She’s not a woebegone maiden who uses puppy eyes or a blank stare to convey emotion. Her words flow and are said with the necessary weight and gravity they require. Ehrenreich has fun in the mortal role, and gets the humorous lines of the movie. He’s an average American boy, dreaming of getting out of a small town; no supernatural brooding or mellifluous prose for him.
I think what I enjoy the most about Beautiful Creatures is that while it tells a supernatural story, not everything feels that it’s the most serious thing on the planet. Yes, Lena will be “chosen” for either the light or dark side, but she reiterates her dreams of being a normal young girl and the love story allows that side to come out. The rest of the cast is equally superb, again surprising for the teen genre. Adult cast members like Emma Thompson and Jeremy Irons all seem to be having the time of their lives as the two casters at odds throughout the story.
Of course Beautiful Creatures isn’t for everyone. Those who abhor supernatural romance at all will be bored by the story. I also cringed at bit at seeing Academy-Award winner Viola Davis playing the mystical African-American voodoo woman, so the movie is far from perfect. But, considering what is out there for teens at the moment, Beautiful Creatures is the cream of the crop.
The Blu-ray combo pack comes with the DVD and information on how to download the movie through Warner Brothers Ultraviolet software. If you truly enjoy the movie and want all the ways to watch it, the Blu-ray combo pack is the way to go. In terms of bonus content whoever assembled the bunch doesn’t hold much stock in teens actually watching the rest of the features. There are a handful of behind-the-scenes features discussing the characters, the world, and the costumes; each runs about three minutes and doesn’t do more than advertise scenes from the film. If you want them all together, several of them repeat cast interviews, and spend more time showing what you just watched than having the cast give any insight. The costume featurettes is the best in that we go into the costume shop and have the designer discuss his work, although it is still lax at only three minutes. Other than there, there are a few deleted scenes, mostly focused on the character of Ridley (Emmy Rossum), and three trailers for the movie itself. Again, not the best group of features.
Despite the lack of features, Beautiful Creatures is still worth a watch or a purchase on Blu-ray. The story is engaging and the acting is leaps and bounds above most movies marketed to the 12-19 set. Own Beautiful Creatures on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD and Digital Download 5/21.