Supernatural teen romance based on the best-selling fantasy novel, co-starring Oscar veterans Emma Thompson, Jeremy Irons and Viola Davis. Now playing nationwide.
It might not be wise to challenge the almighty Twilight in a game of Rock, Paper, Sparkle. But with the conclusion of that saga behind us (supposedly), the young adult fantasy romance genre is ripe for the taking. Beautiful Creatures steps onto the stage and gives a bold performance, but ends up bowing its head down and shuffling into the wings alongside I Am Number Four.
Ambitious teen Ethan (Alden Ehrenreich) wants to escape a life destined for blandness – shown in an awesomely creepy scene where he’s forced to forecast his entire life in a minute. His desire for the extraordinary draws him to Lena (Alice Englert), a ‘caster’ with supernatural abilities.
The always-reliable Jeremy Irons is great as Lena’s protective uncle, though he tends to forget that he has a Southern accent. Emma Thompson holds a more natural Texan twang, but brings a big plate of ham to her performance. However, it’s the fresh-faced leads that liven the film up. What Ehrenreich lacks in facial features he makes up for heavily in charisma while Englert plays off his fascination. Between the outcast seeking normality and the ‘average Joe’ seeking abnormality, the relationship carries an infectious dynamic that brims with personality.
Unfortunately, the elusive world of ‘casters’ isn’t all that wondrous. There is no Hogwarts castle to be in awe of and the weird Lazy Susan dinner-table whirlwind battle scene doesn’t come close to dethroning The Craft for best witch-vs-witch battle. It’s a damn shame Beautiful Creatures fumbles with its own fantasy lore, for it presents a young romantic couple worth caring about; a quality it has over its predecessors.