Adapted from the popular Caster Chronicle books by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, Beautiful Creatures lands in cinemas this week bringing with it a refreshing new take on this much-played out genre.
So what’s so different about it? For starters Beautiful Creatures stars a fairly impressive cast made up of the likes of Jeremy Irons, Emma Thompson, Viola Davis, Emmy Rossum and newcomers Alice Englert (daughter of director Jane Campion) and Alden Ehrenreich (an actor discovered by Steven Spielberg at a friend’s bat mitzvah).
Another big point of difference is that unlike many films in this genre Beautiful Creatures is told from the perspective of our male lead, 16-year-old Ethan (Ehrenreich), a Southern boy with big dreams of fleeing his fictional hometown of Gatlin – a place where curtain twitching and interfering neighbours is the norm. Ethan’s life is turned upside down and inevitably changed forever when he meets Lena (Englert), a girl who has moved to the town to stay with her uncle, the local recluse. And it’s more than just raging hormones which make Ehtan take notice of her, there’s also the fact that she appears to have literally been plucked from his dreams and dropped right into his sophomore year class. But as the two grow closer Ethan begins to realise that not all is as it seems with the mysterious Lena who he soon discovers has magical powers and a dangerous secret. The secret is this, she’s a caster (not a witch but very similar) who on her 16th birthday will be claimed for either the light or the dark.
As the two lovers embark on a journey to work out how they can stop her being taken for the dark they start to unravel thousands of years’ worth of secrets which highlight that perhaps their romance was an act of fate rather than chance.
For those who’ve judged Beautiful Creatures based on the hype and the trailers alone should think again. Sure it shares certain similarities with the Twilights of the film world – teen angst and a supernatural twist being just two – but there are also glaring differences that should make this film stand alone from its predecessor.
It’s unexpectedly funny, doesn’t turn out the way you would expect and actually bothers to go beyond the teen love story at its centre to try and teach us some wider lessons. Lessons in prejudice, single-mindedness, American history and of course, the dangers of hooking up with a classmate with supernatural capabilities.