Beautiful Creatures

Jeremy Irons IS a beautiful creature
I suppose.
"Dark secrets will come to light."

Good morning, and welcome back to The Tagline! Today's feature presentation is Beautiful Creatures, a recent entry into that hyper-overexposed genre, supernatural teen romance based on a young adult novel. Just typing that sentence made me gag a little, see?! This particular entry stars Alden Ehrenreich (who incidentally had a supporting role in Stoker which I reviewed last week) as Ethan Wate, a boy growing up in a nowhere town in the deep south called Gatlin. Ethan dreams about a girl whose face he can't see, until one day Lena Duchannes (Alice Englert) moves to town. After the typical teenage butting of heads, Lena reveals that she's been dreaming about Ethan too, and also that she is some sort of immortal magic person (they call them casters in this series which just seems lazy) Lena has moved to Gatlin with her uncle, Macon Ravenwood (Jeremy Irons, and it pains me to say this is the best movie I've seen him in for a LONG time) because of her approaching 16th birthday. You see when girls of Lena's persuasion turn 16, they become either light or dark casters, and signs are pointing towards Lena going super duper dark, partly because of a curse, and also because of the interference of her mother Sarafine (who only ever appears in the possession of another woman, portrayed by Emma Thompson) and her cousin Ridley (Emmy Rossum, who I think I last saw ages ago in The Day After Tomorrow yuck, no wait it was Dragonball: Evolution...not better.). Ethan meanwhile, as a mortal, is caught in the middle of this supernatural confluence of events, and mostly, is determined to keep Lena from going bad.

Look how relieved he is that this movie
isn't Eragon.
If this all sounds kind of familiar to you, I'm right there with you. There's nothing new under the sun, and even if there WERE this certainly is not it. We can safely assume that, ever since Twilight became a thing, whenever a script involving a supernatural teen love drama hits the table that all the execs in the room break out into a sweat, just imagining that they might be holding the key to the candy store. This particular entry into the genre adapts a fairly recent book (the first entry in the series, after which the movie is named, was published in late 2009) and while its competent, it isn't even sort of original. I can't speak for the book that the film is sourced from, but the movie gives an incredibly vague impression of "light" and "dark" casters, not explaining in any detail anything about them that you don't need to know for the immediate romance/drama unfolding in the film. The movie seems to approach the matter with a dismissive wave of the hand, to indicate "you know, SUPERNATURAL STUFF, sirens and vampires or something, you know the drill." If a movie can't be bothered to establish its lore, it becomes kind of hard for me to feign interest either.

In scenes where people are reading stuff, I like to imagine
they are actually looking at a copy of the script.
That being said, while the story is a generic rehash of so many other romances, this movie is at least competently acted. The leads are likable and unlike certain others I might think of, are capable of emoting. More than that, They perform in a way that makes you believe they are actually two teens who care about each other (also who fight a lot, which makes it much more believable for me I mean come on she's supposed to be turning 16 here). Again, the story is kind of light on detail, and I found certain scenes really corny, but overall the actors sell their roles, and having Emma Thompson and Jeremy Irons as the supporting leads does not hurt the movie at all. It was just nice to see Jeremy Irons in a movie that had a script I could refer to as "not the worst script ever penned for its genre." Shame on you Eragon, shame on you forever.

When you're comparing a movie to things like Eragon, or Twilight or something similar, it becomes easy to accept competence as excellence. My expectations were so seriously low for this movie that I was delighted when it was merely okay. I'm not saying that you should run out and see it, but it compares favorably to a lot of the recent garbage that's been churned out. worth noting also is that this movie is generally a lot more attractive and present's less lousy special effects than Twilight. Again, that's not saying much, but credit where credit is due. My major gripe with the movie is the sort of vague, open ending that the movie resorts to. I can more or less gather for myself what happens, but I shouldn't have to guess.

Are you ready for severely lacking southern hospitality?
Ultimately, unless you're a fan of this sort of thing, you'll survive not seeing it. Certainly most people already did that when the film was released in February, as it grossed around 60 million, which barely recouped its production costs. This was a considerable under-performance compared to the expectations indicated by the movie's promotion, and I figure that the weak showing dashed any hopes for attempting a sequel. To quote Steven King, no great loss.

That's it for today! Join me on Thursday for my feelings about hopefully not a teen drama of any variety.

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