Review: "Beautiful Creatures" Is a Supernatural Romance That Can't Get It Up

Don't expect this to be the next Twilight.

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Complex Original

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Review by Tara Aquino (@t_akino

Director: Richard LaGravenese
Stars: Alice Englert, Viola Davis, Emma Thompson, Alden Ehrenreich, Jeremy Irons, Emmy Rossum, Thomas Mann, Zoey Deutch
Running time: 124 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Score: 5/10

To summarize the experience of watching Beautiful Creatures: You just keep waiting, to no avail, for the climax.

Based on the first of three books in the Caster Chronicles series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, Beautiful Creatures tells the story of the cursed romance between Ethan Wate (newcomer Alden Ehrenreich) and Lena Duchannes (Jane Campion's daughter, Alice Englert), a pair of hormonal teens who make out every chance they get—on a bed, in a car, under pretty tree branches, et cetera—in the South-iest part of Southern Carolina. But this isn't regular heavy petting; Lena is a witch, er, "caster," and about to be claimed for either the light or the dark side, because that's what happens to girls like her when they turn 16. Which means that Ethan better GTFO of the way before the evil—Lena's natural inclination, as made evident by the lightning that strikes every time she's the least bit peeved—inevitably overcomes her and destroys her mortal boyfriend.

Of course, considering Wate is basically Leonardo DiCaprio's Romeo in Allen Ginsberg's glasses, he stubbornly refuses to let his beloved go. After all, as the legend has it, he's inextricably tied to her. On top of dreaming about each other before they even meet, Lena introduces Ethan to the work of his new favorite writer, Charles Bukowski, another author with idears he can add to his growing shelf of banned books. And this is a no-no in a town whose only acceptable book is the Bible.

And right when the tension's ratcheting up between the two and you really start to give a shit that they're together, the eye-rolling begins. As Lena's dueling guardians—basically the angel and the devil on her shoulders—Jeremy Irons and Emma Thompson, respectively, take you out of the movie and place you into another one in entirely, perhaps a screener passed over by Mystery Science Theater. Their over-the-top flamboyance, on top of the unconvincing CGI, on top of an anticlimactic climax, drowns out the original passion between the star-crossed lovers.

It's as if director Richard LaGravenese didn't realize that movies don't function like novels—they don't go chapter by chapter. And by the middle of the film, you start to wish it was actually a book you could skip through. Or burn, just to get some heat from the damn thing.

You can count on the film to launch Alden Ehrenreich and Alice Englert into those "most promising in young Hollywood" lists, but don't expect it to immediately inspire 50 Shades of Grey-type fanfiction a la Twilight. With all the time the movie spends untangling the mythology for its audience, anything irresistibly carnal, which is what made Twilight so popular despite its flaws, becomes a footnote.

Review by Tara Aquino (@t_akino

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