With the blockbuster success of YA-lit-adapted film franchises like "Harry Potter," "Twilight" and "The Hunger Games," it seems every Hollywood producer is now eagerly raiding his 15-year-old niece's bookshelf in search of the next big thing. One of the latest teen-centric tales to get the big-screen treatment is Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl's Southern gothic "Beautiful Creatures," the first novel in their four-part "Caster Chronicles" series.
The story centers around small-town teen Ethan Wate, who's been having troubling dreams about a beautiful girl whom he's never met. Her identity doesn't remain a mystery for long, though, as she turns up in town to live with her reclusive uncle. There's clearly something different about this girl—and not just because she's Gatlin County's first transplant in years. No, Lena Duchannes is a "caster," what mere mortals would refer to as a witch, and though she and Ethan have an immediate, electric connection, their bond will be tested as she faces an uncertain destiny. Will Lena go dark or remain light?
The first trailer for the supernatural romance, starring newcomers Alice Englert and Alden Ehrenreich, debuted Wednesday on iTunes. Let's break down the clip's five key scenes.
Lena gets an inauspicious introduction to town as concerned mother (and staunch Christian) Mrs. Lincoln (played by Emma Thompson) relays Lena's colorful past. "We all know the Duchannes history," Mrs. Lincoln drawls. "In the last year, Lena Duchannes has been in three different schools in three different towns, and in every one of those schools, they had accidents and even deaths. I'm not afraid of you or your evil kind." Or are you, Mrs. Lincoln?
At 15 years old, Lena is still learning to harness her magical abilities, and we see as much in a classroom scene in which the windows shatter in magnificent fashion. (The same scene we witnessed during our visit to the New Orleans set earlier this year.) You see, Lena's a "natural" caster, which means her powers are far greater than most. She's able to bend the elements to her will, hence the torrid of glass raining down on her classmates. But first impressions are overrated, right?
Lena's powers come with a big caveat: On her 16th birthday, she will be "claimed," either for the light or the dark side. Much of Garcia and Stohl's first novel focuses on the lead up to this life-changing moment, and it's a constant worry for Lena who fears she'll become evil. "I have 75 days left," she informs mortal love Ethan.
At a family gathering (to which she most certainly was not invited), Lena's banished dark-caster cousin Ridley (played by Emmy Rossum) returns, however momentarily, as a cautionary tale to Lena. "If she goes dark, will you shut her out too?" the siren simpers. "You think Lena's a good girl now, but it won't matter."
And, lest we forget, this is a romance, after all. Bring on the make-out scenes! Sure, Lena knows she shouldn't be with Ethan, but their connection (which they soon discover spans the centuries) cannot be denied. Will Ethan pay the ultimate price (his life) for loving her?
"Beautiful Creatures" hits theaters February 13, 2013.
Check out everything we've got on "Beautiful Creatures."