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Beautiful Creatures - Film Review

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by Chrystal Byrne (subscribe)
Freelance writer living on Brisbane's north side. Studied creative industries - currently studying library and information services.
Published March 4th 2013
Dark Secrets will come to light
Ethan Wate just wants to get out of Gatlin, the small South American town that his family has inhabited since before the Civil War. But Ethan is about to start junior high, and this would be fine except that he's been experiencing a lot of interrupted sleep. Every night he dreams of a girl. A girl clothed in black, with long dark hair shielding her face, standing out under the large tree on the hill where a great battle was waged in the name of the Civil War many years ago. She's standing solitary in a storm, and Ethan feels that he loves her, that he's losing her. Every night it's the same dream, he reaches out towards her and a sharp bolt of lightning strikes the ground before her. He wakes.

Ethan returns to school amongst whispers of a newcomer. Lena Duchannes, niece of the curious recluse Macon Ravenwood, has come to town – and she's staying. This causes all sorts of problems as it is widely believed amongst the god-fearing pillars of the Gatlin community that the Ravenwood family, and its descendants, practice witchcraft and worship the devil. Despite warnings from his pious ex-girlfriend Emily, and family friend Amma, Ethan is drawn to Lena, and she to him.

As time goes by Ethan experiences much unease, confusion and trouble in his efforts to court the mysterious Lena, as Uncle Macon seems determined to keep him away. But that's not the least of it. Lena Duchannes has powers, and on her upcoming 16th birthday they're going to claim her, for good or evil.

Throw in lots of sweet southern drawl, an evil w(b?)itch of a mother, sirens, Civil War re-enactments, a Ravenwood family curse and a joint family love story dating back to the Civil War and this makes for an interesting tale. But will Ethan and Lena beat the odds?

Beautiful Creatures (2013)
Beautiful Creatures (2013)

Beautiful Creatures (2013) is the film adaptation of the 2009 novel, Beautiful Creatures, by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. The novel is the first in the series Caster Chronicles and is classified as Young Adult Fiction. It was first published by both Little, Brown and Company and Penguin Books respectively. The film is directed and written by Richard LaGravenese and stars Alden Ehrenreich as Ethan Wate, Alice Englert as Lena Duchannes, Jeremy Irons as Macon Ravenwood and Viola Davis as Amma.

Beautiful Creatures promotional poster
Beautiful Creatures promotional poster

Although watching the film I can see why it was intended for a teenage market, I did still enjoy it myself. It did feel a little Twilight-esque at times, but with so many supernatural romance stories on the scene these days, I wasn't too surprised or miffed by it. Besides, Ethan Wate is too cheery, persistent and goofy to resemble any Edward Cullens and Lena Duchannes emanates a power that Bella Swan could never have.

I enjoyed the characters of Ethan and Lena, and felt that their blossoming youth and love brought me back to my better days (without the magic powers and crazy family of course). They weren't too complex as characters, and I believed in them and their individual and coupled stories. They were genuine and quite likeable. Ethan's goofy optimism was really heart-warming and Lena's strength of character, her sacrifice at the end (no spoilers here) was endearing.

I would recommend Beautiful Creatures (2013) to youth and adults alike. It's not a complicated story to follow, but it's sweet and has elements of dark and light that I'm sure we can all relate to in our own ways. The characters are likeable and sassy (Lena's cousin Ridley in particular), the visual effects and scenery is beautiful, the dialogue is lovely and thickened with that South American accent and the overarching idea behind it is heart-warming.

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