In late 2009, with Harry Potter’s Hogwarts graduation in sight, Warner Bros. scooped up the film rights to yet another magically minded story, Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl’s “Beautiful Creatures,” which had yet to be published. Fast-forward more than three years, and the book series’ first installment, adapted and directed by Richard LaGravenese, will attempt to spell-bind audiences when it opens on Valentine’s Day (February 14).
Starring newcomers Alden Ehrenreich and Alice Englert, the film centers around Southern boy Ethan Wate (Ehrenreich), whose life is turned upside when caster Lena Duchannes (Englert) moves to town.
Critics are split on the merits of the supernatural romance, but they all seem to agree on one thing: It’s got “Twilight” blood running through its veins (without the pesky urge to bite someone). Check out a sampling of reviews.
“Told, at least at first, from the point of view of the boy, Ethan Wate (Alden Ehrenreich), this is literally the story of a dream of his come true — a recurring dream of a young woman partly obscured from view on a Civil War battlefield but one in which Ethan always ends up getting hit by lightning. That’s pretty much what Ethan feels like is happening to him when a dark-haired beauty, Lena Duchannes (Alice Englert), arrives at school and gives him something to think about other than applying to college.” — Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter
The Inevitable “Twilight” Comparison
” ’Beautiful Creatures’ is arriving in a marketplace full of ’Twilight’ junkies still eager for their supernatural teen-romantic fix, and the film’s concept couldn’t be clearer: It’s ’Twilight’ with the sexes reversed. This time it’s the boy who’s the mortal: moody, bookish Ethan, the outsider in his sleepy small town of Gatlin, S.C., though Alden Ehrenreich plays him more like a sensitive jock on Glee. Lena (Alice Englert), the new girl at school, comes from a family of witches (or, as they’re known here, Casters), and on the day she turns 16 she’ll be ’claimed,’ either by the light side or (more likely, due to a family curse) the dark side.” — Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly
On Newcomers Ehrenreich and Englert
“Enrenreich [sic] oozes southern charm while reminding us in looks and charisma of a young Leonardo DiCaprio (he has DiCaprio’s over-enunciation thing down-pat). Englert, looking like a cross between Jennifer Lawrence and Rooney Mara, is a comparatively moodier and subtler character, but she too gets moments of wry amusement and sarcastic biting wit, especially in her earlier moments. Point being, the two young leads are terrific and are terrific together, which means you actually care about how the central romance is resolved even as the supernatural mythology takes over in the last act.” — Scott Mendelson, Huffington Post
Faithfulness to the Source Material
“Sometimes it doesn’t pay to read the book. Based on the whimpers of the young women coming out of a preview screening, ’Beautiful Creatures,’ the movie, isn’t nearly faithful enough to ’Beautiful Creatures,’ the novel. Double-checking with the one person I know who’s a fan of the four-volume ’Caster Chronicles’ by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (of which ’Creatures’ is the first installment), the teenage hero’s father is a crucial figure in the book but nowhere to be seen in the film. Two key characters have been mooshed into one. And there are other sins against the cosmos. Which only proves the foolishness of expecting Hollywood to do right by a cherished source when there’s money to be made and a franchise to launch.” — Ty Burr, Boston Globe
The Last Word
“The film ultimately plays like so much teenage girl poetry, heavy on the angst, endearingly naive in its notions of love and yet brought vividly to life by a game cast, evocative locations (both indoors and out) and stunning anamorphic lensing. Louisiana works nicely for Civil War-obsessed Gatlin, suggesting a tween-friendly ’True Blood.’ ” — Peter Debruge, Variety
Check out everything we’ve got on “Beautiful Creatures”.