Fantasy films are on the up and up in the weird and wonderful world of Hollywood. Most early to mid twenties actors look for these roles to kick start their careers, hoping for worldwide domination, Twilight style. Beautiful Creatures like many films as of present, is based on a collection of novels. A cast of credible actors Emma Thompson, Jeremy Irons and Viola Davis support the young actors that act as the protagonists in this story of love, magic and dysfunctional families. Ethan Wate (Alden Ehrenreich) and Lena Duchannes (Alice Englert) are the young teens destined to meet, and disturb the status quo of Gatlin, South Carolina.
Small town syndrome is how to describe Ethan and his current predicament. Whilst he constantly reads banned books and thinks about his late mothers wish for him to see the rest of the world, he dreams of a girl he has fallen in love with but never met. It’s now Junior year, and the start to a new semester brings about a new student, Lena Duchannes. The moody and lonesome new girl who has no priority to make friends or fit in with any particular high school crowd. This may sound like an all too familiar tale but the narration is what makes it stand out, identifying the small town, holier than thou attitude that a large number of residents sign up to adds to the southernism.
As in most towns that rarely see newcomers arrive or residents leave, the teenagers within the community instantly dislike Lena, learning from their parents that she is to be isolated and ignored. Kids and likewise adults can be extremely mean. Spreading vicious rumours that she and her family believe in Satan and worship the darker powers other than their Christian god, she is not welcome. Ethan, of course, is the only one to ignore the speculation and on accidentally running into her finds out why people fear the Duchannes and co.
From the start the screenwriting and story felt discordant, and I am merely assuming but perhaps much detail was left out of the book. Occurrences happened with no real explanation of why and I am certainly not one that needs the plot to be simply laid out in front of me, but this film was simply there and that’s that. It lacked depth mainly as I in the end I just didn’t care what happened to any of the characters. Madagascar would be more believable than this. This film is aimed at children which is clear but moved from one scene to another mechanically rather than naturally, but then would children worry about this. I think not.
Alden Ehrenreich is an up and coming actor, and the only positive attribute I can say he has is some southern charm and a huge smile. The few times I laughed were when his gleaming grin took over the screen. The film was not written to test his acting ability but it also didn’t showcase it either. The same can be said for Alice Englert, and whilst being a young attractive woman, did she even care about being part of the film? She did however pull off the grungy loner perfectly, mainly because they don’t really care about anything either.
Jeremy Iron’s character Macon Ravenwood did not bowl me over, the only performance I did marginally like was Emma Thompson’s. Being a professional with many years of experience under her hat she played the god loving Mavis Lincoln/Sara Fine (incarnate) with ease. She outshone anyone else in the cast, moving from one character to the other when needed, but again I consider her to be bigger and better than this film. Her previous roles display this, even Nanny McPhee.
Despite my lack of love for the screenwriting and acting ability the location chosen was spectacularly perfect. It is the right combination of dark and eerie with Weeping Willows, thick foliage and greenery taking over every part of the town and residence. The camera shot I fell in love with showed the lead up to the Ravenwood House complete with a lush driveway, long drooping trees and plants closing in on the large manor house which was draped in moss, weeds and shrubbery. Whilst this may sound like a landscapers nightmare, it looked stunning. A real South Carolina plantation house, with the sprawling grounds to top it off.
When they release the next instalment, I hope they look at beefing up the storyline. Just because it’s for a young audience doesn’t mean it needs to be simple.