I always intend to review book-based movies after seeing them (to the point that, on the way home from the movie, I'm drafting the review in my head, and all the clever* things I'm going to say...), but I never seem to sit down and actually write them.
Well, enough of that.
The very best Evie I know (aka my bestie) and I were each other's Vday dates for a matinee of Beautiful Creatures, and this time, you guys are gonna hear about it.
Okay, so I can't speak to accuracy from the text because I sort of haven't read it yet. I mean, I own it and was going to before seeing the movie, but then I realized that was just setting it up for failure. When does the movie ever live up? A: it doesn't. That just doesn't happen. And this would be doubly true if I were to read the book right before the movie, and then suffer through all the glaringly obvious differences or mistakes, etc. I mean, that way lies dissatisfaction, so I decided to hold off on reading the book so I could go into the movie unbiased. So if you're a diehard fan of the book series, I'm sorry, I can't tell you how it measures up. But if you're not a fan, or you haven't read it yet, or you haven't even wanted to, then perfect! This review is aimed at you, because I'm approaching it solely on its success as a movie.
So, the story is of a teen named Ethan in a narrow-minded small-town in the South, when behold! a wild teen
As far as it goes, the story is solid enough, (predictable, of course, but when aren't these things?); the timeline, though, is a little too compressed. Things happen very quickly, and the passing of days is shown mostly through a flip-calendar style tattoo, so some of the depth or slow-build I would have liked is kinda non-existent. At one point, almost a month had passed and I thought it was the next morning until 1/2 through the scene. But for all that, once your mind plays catch up with the characters, the story is solid enough to be enjoyable and tick all the teen romance/paranormal/Southern gothic boxes.
I mean... its got Jeremy Irons and Emma Thompson in it. And Viola Davis. And Emmy Rossum. And Eileen Atkins. And the kid who played Cassidy
|Beaver! You've grown up|
...and joined Flock of Seagulls?
I'm not gonna lie when I say it was the casting that convinced me to see this movie. Jeremy Irons and Emma Thompson. I figured, with those two in the movie, it's gotta be good, right? Well, yes and no. Jeremy Irons is
Viola Davis & Emmy Rossum are solid; Eileen Atkins has a more bit part, but she has lavender hair, so...she wins.**
But the stars of the show are Lena and Ethan, and they're probably who you really want to hear about. Relative newcomers Alden Ehrenreich and Alice Englert have the job of carrying most of the movie, and for the most part, do a good job. Alden-as-Ethan was unbelievably adorkable. For serious cutes, and it is worth it for his performance alone, I'd say. Lena says something along the lines of Ethan not being able to stop himself from drooling charm, and I think Alden absolutely got that right. I'm a little more lukewarm on Englert, who won me over much of the time, but occasionally was a little too angsty for my tastes. And her sort of pan-Southern accent wavered (as did a number of the non-Southern castmates), and I found that distracting. But overall, the chemisty between the two is believable and the cast worth it.
This is where the movie shines.
If it isn't clear already from the way I organize my books or this month's Book Chat, I'm a visual person. The look of a movie - both in cinematography and costuming - can win me over when I'm otherwise not sold (and is in fact the reason I've come to love the 2005 Pride & Prejudice, which I originally found horribly disappointing...).
Now, the special effects were by turns awesome and atrocious. They waffled from Ooh, that was cool! to, really? is this a syfy channel B movie? I mean, it's not like seeing-the-strings bad, but sometimes it was just a bit...off. I think the good times outweighed the bad, though, and I liked the special effects in the end.
But the costumes! THE COSTUMES! Oh, the wardrobe department had a field day, and I would rewatch it just to get a better look at all of that. There's a real artistic vision guiding the costume and set design choices in the movie - and the way they worked together/played off each other - and the movie is enjoyable for that alone.
Emmy Rossum gets to wear all teh things
Similar to the special fx, the scoring was by turns fabulous and jarring. Personally, I really liked it nearly all the time, but I think the scoring and music choices will either make people fall in love or drive them completely away, according to personal tastes. Generally, the score is something you don't really notice - it's in the background, and you think of it only after the fact, or when it's obtrusive. But I think everyone will notice the scoring of this - and for some, that will jar them out of the story. Others - like myself - will think, Oooh, I like how that compliments this scene, or Ohhh, that's pretty/neat/ominous...
So for me this is a win, and I'd actually like to look into the score more, but I think for others, this will be a complete fail, just for how strong a part of the movie it is. This is not subtle background music...
It's a teen supernatural romance. There's angst. There's insta-love. There's dark, gloomy, smolderingness. This one's down to tastes, and I'll watch and love a lot of things in a movie that I'd never tolerate in books, so for me, it works. These are fun bits of escapism, and I think this one does it better than most.
As I said, I can't speak to the accuracy compared to the book, but as a movie it really worked for me, and I hope they make the entire series and don't just peter out like a lot of book-movie franchises do.
* I'm very modest.
**Note to self, must have lavender old lady hair when am old lady.