Saturday, June 7, 2014

Beautiful Creatures

I literally just finished watching this movie for the first time.  I wasn't really sure what to think about it.  I had heard so many things about it.  That it was great.  That the book was so much better, etc.  Naturally the book is always better in my opinion, because there are some imaginative thoughts that can never make be imagined the same way as my mind sees them, so I will always have a disappointment factor.  I always try to see the movie first so that I can enjoy them both separately.  With that being said, I have NOT read this book yet (but I definitely will now), and I have to say that I was really intrigued by the story.  Overall I felt that the filming was interesting in that there were very few close ups of people faces, I felt like the characters were all being filmed from far away for the majority of the movie.  They really included the setting as a big part of the filming.  I was left wanting to know more about the background (as is normal in most book to movie stories).  Watching this movie knowing it was based on a book made me feel like the movie was just scratching the surface of an expansive new world.  I loved the glimpse that I got into this world, but I felt like this movie that was beautiful creatures did not have enough time to really tell it's story.  It seemed like with so much to tell that it should have been a 2 part movie to really let the ancillary characters come to life.  Don't shy away from it though, it is still totally worth seeing.

Beautiful creatures was released in February of 2013.  It is considered a romantic fantasy film and is based on the novel Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl.  It starts off with a boy named Ethan Wate living in small town Gatlin, South Caroline, he reigns as the narrator.  It also features a new girl to school named Lena Duchannes who is automatically shunned in a religious zealot town as a devil worshiper.  We learn that lena is something called a caster (akin to a witch), that considers themselves a separate race from mortals (normal boring powerless humans).  Of course it is Romeo & Juliet-esque in that they fall in love.  I won't say too much more for fear of spoilers, but it is definitely a romance, but not in the sort of chick flick manner.  More of an epic story fantasy romance. It is also a challenge between light and dark forces in nature, life, and even a religious aspect.

Alcon entertainment purchased the rights to the movie back in 2009.  Casting began in late 2011.  Jack O'Connell was originally slated to play the Ethan but dropped out of the film due to a scheduling conflict. The filming took place in New Orleans.  Filming included practical special effects as well as computer based ones, in the dining room scene, the table, chairs and chandeliers all really moved.

The cast included:
Alden Ehrenreich as Ethan ( Blue Jasmine, Stoker, Tetro)
Alice Englert as Lena (In Fear, Ginger & Rosa)
Jeremy Irons as Macon (Lion King, Man in the Iron Mask, Borgias, Eragon, Kingdom of Heaven)
Viola Davis as Amma (The Help, Ender's Game, State of Play, Law & Order: SVU, Antwone Fisher)
Emmy Rossum as Ridley (Devil Wears Prada, Phantom of the Opera, Shameless, Poseidon, Nola)
Emma Thompson as Mrs. Lincoln/Sarafine (Nanny McPhee, Saving Mr. Banks, Harry Potter)

Beautiful Creatures was considered a box office flop in America bringing in only $19 million domestically against a $60 million budget.  Internationally it reached $40 million in sales for a total of just over $60 million, barely recouping it's budget.  The film received mixed reviews averaging at about a 50%.  Most critics considered it a watered down Twilight with roles in reverse. 

Overall I give this movie a 3.5 star out of 5 total stars.  I think the storyline and potential was there, but the time limit was not enough to show the full story.  I was left wanting to know a lot of details that I felt were left out.  Jeremy Irons did a great job of playing Macon in a development role and I felt that Ethan was played well as a developing character as well.  However, I feel like outside of Emmy and Viola, the women fell short.  They didn't seem to embrace their roles and really bring the characters out.  I didn't really like Ethan's "ignorant mortal" character until about 40-50% into the movie.  There were some great sweeping shots, but overall the story was lacking.  The ending definitely left you off at a possible major cliffhanger.  I also felt like the dark side was emphasized a lot, while the light side was only the alternative you want, but never really explained much.  Even so, it was still worth a watch.

Here is the official website for the movie: Beautiful Creatures

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