Science fiction and fantasy
directed by Richard LaGravenese
The concept is absurdly black and white: basically female magic users get claimed for good or evil, after which they have to go all one way or another without any free will. I don't expect much realism from a fantasy about magic and witches, but this idea doesn't have psychological credibility either. People don't have to become entirely good or evil in real life, so this seemed rather like firing at dead Nazis instead of taking up an issue of real importance. It's no fun when the drama is all about something everyone agrees is wrong.
Most of Beautiful Creatures is told from Ethan's point of view, which is unusual but refreshing for such a sweet, romantic film. It would make a great date movie. There's also an enjoyable literary angle, with Ethan's reading tending towards the forbidden list, although in Gatlin that seems to include almost anything that isn't the Bible or the church newsletter.
I liked the character of Amma (Viola Davis), who is something of a mother figure for Ethan, who lost his own mother when he was younger. Amma is sharp and sassy, a mix of secrets of intriguing contradictions. Macon is a similar tangle of conflict with a hidden past and depths of his own. Emma Thompson's performance as Mrs. Lincoln and Sarafine is entertaining and impressive, although her characters aren't as subtle as the others.
The magic is ill-defined; there don't seem to be any limits on what it can do. This puts the story firmly in the realm of unthreatening frivolity, because no matter what happens there's always the sense that the right spell could put it right. Nevertheless the plot is compelling and it moves quickly. The students tend to cluster in the usual high school tribes, especially the bitchy Emily, but the main characters are endearingly quirky. I especially loved the way Lena's acid tongue contrasted with Ethan's cheerful enthusiasm. It's these small touches that elevate the story from yet another teen drama with added sparkles to become a moving story that merits a second viewing.
24th February 2013
If you like this, try:Warm Bodies by Jonathan Levine
A zombie falls in love with a human. But can he protect her from the dead, and can she stop her father from shooting him, in this story of love across the boundary of life and death?
Beastly by Daniel Barnz
A vain and unpleasant high school student is cursed with ugliness in this modern interpretation on Beauty and the Beast.
Twilight by Catherine Hardwicke
Bella Swan is worried about being the new girl in school. But making friends turns out to be the least of her problems when she falls for a vampire.
Review © Ros Jackson
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