Sunday, 17 February 2013

Beautiful Creatures Film Review

Beautiful Creatures 2013

  Yesterday (Feb. 16 2013) we went to see the Beautiful Creatures movie at the theater. Needless to say, we had a case of the fangirl squees while waiting for the film to start. We have been waiting to see the film since we all read the book.  
            Unfortunately, there were many times when we looked at each other and mouthed “what?!” I am adamant that adaptations from book to film cannot be exactly alike. What works in a book does not necessarily work in a film. However, while watching this film, there is the moment when you realize the film has gone crazy and has started adding unnecessary things to the story. Some of the additions are ridiculous, and I will address them, but those sections might contain spoilers and will be marked. I try not to repeat myself so while some comments could appear under many headings, I try to keep some kind of semblance of organization.

Main Characters
            Ethan does not behave as I thought he did in the book. Admittedly, I thought their banter was much more interesting in the book, and overall he had more personality. (Lena: Can we just have a normal, awkward teenager date? Ethan: I won’t even call you the next day. *note: this is not an exact quote, only what I can remember.) I still stand by my opinion that he looks older than he should, and he doesn’t have the hair that needs cutting as stated in the book. It would be one thing if the film simply ignored it, but no, it doesn’t. In the first few moments of the film Amma reminds Ethan that he needs a haircut (when he obviously doesn’t). It was a moment when the writer tells the audience “Hey, I read the book too, I know what I’m writing about.” And by the way, he doesn’t know what he’s writing about.  
            Lena is a decent actor, though like Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss in the Hunger Games film, I feel that they should have been more aware of how her face looks in certain angles. That’s something the camera and the actress needs to be aware of. My only major gripe with Lena is that her wardrobe doesn’t have the otherworldly feel like it does in the book. She is supposed to look different and out of place. Sure, she might not look exactly like her class mates, but it’s close, and maybe she is from the next town over. She is supposed to look noticeably different, and she doesn’t. Also, the charm necklace is never explained and should therefore just be taken out of the film.    

            The atmosphere was well-done in the film, though I have actually never been to the south (yet). At least it looks like what other films tell me the American South looks like. However, I hate it when films have a narrative frame, trying to emulate Twilight. It would have been more effective to have Ethan speaking to someone for the set-up. Ethan: Hey Link. I hate Gatlin. You know what my mom always said, right? That we should strive to get out of this town full of religious zealots. She was right. All Gatlin talks about is the Battle of Honey Hill. Etc. There is at least one other point in the film that uses voice-over narrative that is unnecessary and shows lazy writing. Also, throwing around terms like “naturalist” without explanation is lazy writing and confusing for the audience, whether they have read the book or not.   
            I do dislike how the term southern Gothic is automatically stapled to this film. Yes, it takes place in the south and has the religious overtones known in the Bible Belt. Does it really have the abandoned, spooky buildings or other iconic symbolism? Not really. Everything is overdramatic and not scary at all. In fact, most of the scenes are in happy daylight. Southern Gothic also involves the grotesque in some way. It’s not here. So let’s stop using terms we don’t understand, shall we? It’s a teen romance movie, don’t paint it as something that it is not.

Book to Film-What Was Changed
(Mild Spoilers)

Light Vs Dark
            This change I actually liked. In the book, why you wouldn’t want to go Dark isn’t particularly clear. I assumed it has something to do with going to the dark side and you get to shoot lightning out of your fingers, but nothing is said in the book, as far as we can recall. With the exception of the “OMG once you go Dark you’ll hurt everybody you love!” you don’t know anything besides Dark=Bad.
            In the film, Dark Casters are actually bad. Ridley, a siren, actually hurts people. Sarafine has an agenda that will hurt mortals. Even Macon Ravenwood is a total jerk at one point and does something mean to Ethan.   

All Duchannes are Claimed, male or female, in the book. In the film, only the men get to choose and the girls still get Claimed. Why did they change this in the film? They made it a girl only curse that is directly related to their bloodline. I think this was a stupid idea that was totally unnecessary. Why change what isn't broken? 

Secondary Characters
            A lot of fail here. Why don’t we get to hear about any of the family’s powers? Where are all the other family members? Larkin’s purpose in the film has been so altered, I have to ask: why is he even in the film? Marian has been cut and replaced with Amma. Amma is supposed to be the Caster and Public Library librarian, on top of being Ethan’s caretaker (which is not explained, to my recollection) and a seer. This doesn’t give her much time to do all the other things she is supposed to do in the story, and I hate how the film just neglects logic and piles all this on her character. Ethan’s father never makes an appearance and he is swiftly forgotten. Not much mentioning of Ethan’s mother, either, when she plays a role in the first book even though she is absent. Don’t even get me started on what they did to Macon in the end of the film.   

Why is Sarafine introduced so early? The whole “OMG she’s been influencing everyone the entire time!” falls flat because in the film, we are SHOWN a huge reveal too soon. The audience is left here’s Sarafine, being evil. I guess she’s the bad guy. The film tells us: Please be afraid of her now. This doesn’t really work.  

            The ending was ridiculous. I will not apologize for my statement either. It was stupid and uninspired. It was like whoever wrote the screenplay felt pressured to throw in a mish-mash of overused tripe and call it a day. Even the lines the actors were given are just awful. Why did they deviate from the source material so badly? I can't stand what they did to Macon and Ridley.

            An alright movie for people who have not read the book and are into paranormal romances. The ending was rubbish. The beginning was more than decent for this kind of film. It had some interesting and thrilling scenes with magic like spinning tables. The love story was alright. Better than Twilight. Atmosphere and acting was enjoyable. If the second film is made despite the abysmal ending, I hope they get a better screen writer.   


  1. I completely agree with everything you said. Especially the about the ending.

  2. I think I figured out what happened: they let an 8 year-old-girl write the ending.

    Worst. Ending. Ever.