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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Mar 3, 2013

Beautiful Creatures: Unattractive Leads and Slow Moving Narrative

Based on the book by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl from the Caster Chronicles, “Beautiful Creatures” obviously wants to cash in on the huge success of the “Twilight” series about two Romeo and Juliet young lovers who come from totally different worlds. In “Twilight”, the boy is a vampire and the girl is human. Here, the boy is human and it’s the girl who is a witch, called caster here, for a change.

The boy is Ethan Wate (Alden Ehrenreich) and the girl is Lena Duchannes (Alice Englert). And just like Edward and Bella, they first meet in high school, not in a cold and rainy Washington town up North but in a small South Carolina village. Lena, the new girl in town, is the niece of the dreaded hermit in their place, Macon Ravenwood (Jeremy Irons). Her 16th birthday is fast approaching and she will soon be claimed by the forces of good or the forces of evil.
Because of this, she tries to push Ethan away but they still fall in love. Ethan has a caretaker in the town’s librarian (Viola Davis) while Lena is surrounded by other female casters who wield great magic powers (Emma Thompson, Emmy Rossum, Eileen Atkins, Margo Martindale).

If this were a hit, then for sure, we can wait for its sequel. But this didn’t do so well at the U.S. box office so there might not be a Part 2 anymore and it won’t be a franchise. There are many reasons why it’s a dud.
First of all, the two lead actors are both unattractive. They’re supposed to be high school students but they look more like they’re taking post-graduate courses. They also absolutely have no chemistry with each other and give lifeless performances. As such, we don’t sympathize at all with their struggles on screen.

Then, writer-director Richard Lagravenese (who did a fairly good job in his screen adaptation of “Bridges of Madison County”) has come up with a boringly slow way of telling his story. There were moments when we’re really about to fall asleep, aided and abetted by the film’s Southern gothic atmosphere. We really pity the good supporting cast as even the likes of Irons, Thompson and Davis’ chewing the scenery cannot help redeem the tediousness of the whole proceedings.