Beautiful Creatures movie review

Why is this movie called Beautiful Creatures?  I don’t even have a guess…  (IE, I recall no creatures, just people.)  But as far as “the protagonist is a special snowflake in this young adult novel fantasy romance adaptation” genre goes, it’s a decent movie with some great actors turning in quality performances. 

The thing that separates Beautiful Creatures from its brethren is that the special snowflake isn’t exactly the primary protagonist, and this was a BRILLIANT move.  Since the movie shows us the story through Ethan, we learn all the exposition through him and therefore not only form a bond with his character but also aren’t bored to tears listening to people we don’t know or like spew stuff that pushes the plot forward.  Instead, we go along with Ethan on the ride, and this makes a mostly predictable story that much more bearable.

spoiler alert

Speaking of Ethan, hats off to Alden Ehrenreich, who I don’t know but want to see again.  (Oh right, he was in Blue Jasmine… right.  Well, there was a lot going on there.)  Alice Englert plays an atypical special snowflake in Lena. She’s a rare character; the audience has to like her, but she’s not exactly nice – and yet, she’s still a good person.  The movie (and the actress) pulls this off perfectly.  We also get Jeremy Irons (who does not get enough work) and Emma Thompson as Sarafine, the badie – both are awesome and have ample room to shine, so if you like these two, that’s enough reason to watch the movie in itself.

The idea that Sarafine always looks different could have been a cool device in subsequent sequels; they could bring in a different big star every time – this could have been awesome.  Meryl Streep would have been awesome… of course, Meryl Streep is awesome in everything, so that’s not exactly outside the box casting.

The American south is the perfect setting for this movie; too bad it doesn’t take place in the 50s.  This makes the town seem that much more believable even though you don’t see much of it or many of its people because your brain can fill in the blanks because as soon as you hear people talk – BOOM.  You know what’s up.

It’s not all wine and roses, though.

Once we get into the second act, the pace takes a nose dive.  The protagonists have that argument on the side of the road (they sure did shoot a lot more of that movie on that street than I thought they would) – are we in the middle of a scene?  It just kinda starts.  I know the movie is running long at two hours so they must have cut that scene down, but it’s so awkward and there’s not really any new information in that scene – they probably could have found a way to cut the entire scene, but what they really needed to do was keep this entire scene and make cuts elsewhere – for example, the library gets old fast.

The climax has a nice little twist; I liked the whole Ethan death fakeout.  I also like the cleverness of Jeremy Irons’ character and the idea of Lena having to move forward in a dangerous world without her uncle’s protection.  It’s all working nicely, Lena makes Ethan forget her… and then, the safe ending.  Boo!  Just when I thought this movie had some balls, it went all happy ending on us.  I thought the point of this story was bad things happen, but you still have to stand up and do what’s right… but no.  Everything mostly works out.  So much for the star-crossed lovers thing.

The biggest problem with Beautiful Creatures is when the pace dies off and the movie gets bloated – the first hour flies by, but in the end, two hours and four minutes… yeoch.  There’s some slow times in that second act.  A much tighter 90 minute version that isn’t super redundant would be most welcome, but it’s too late for that.  This franchise is dead: there’s not going to be another one of these Beautiful Creatures movies as it barely made its budget back and probably lost money on its advertising campaign, which I’d wager was in the five million range.

Beautiful Creatures is a decent little story powered by great performances.  There are a few cool images, but it’s mostly pedestrian, but worth a look if you like strong actors and this genre… or either of those things.  I’m giving it a 7 out of 10 – I wouldn’t go out of my way to see it again, but I wouldn’t walk out of the room if it was on.

About Jamie Insalaco

Jamie Insalaco is the author of, and editor in chief of

Posted on March 4, 2015, in movie review and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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