It has been claimed by the defendant, Mr. Ryan Syrek, that the film Beautiful Creatures is neither “reductive Twilight barf” nor “derivative young-adult hormonal daydreaming” but that it is, instead, “charming and kinda fun.” The prosecution points to Mr. Syrek’s questionable celebration of such films as Miss Congeniality 2 and Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters as evidence of his compromised mental state. Let the record also state that Beautiful Creatures has a score of 45% on Rotten Tomatoes, an aggregate Metacritic score that ranks it below the Arnold Schwarzenegger/Johnny Knoxville film The Last Stand and a target audience of newly postadolescent girls. With this, the prosecution rests and turns the floor to Mr. Syrek.
Are we not enjoyers of movies of all shapes and sizes? Must we damn to obscurity and shame those films with ignoble beginnings? Are we not willing to judge movies by the content of their characters and not the color of the lipstick and nail polish worn by the target demographic? I stand before you today not to assert that writer/director Richard LaGravenese’s adaptation of Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl’s popular young adult novel is a classic. Nay, I only assert that it hits that sweet, sweet honey spot between goofy and serious, between campy and sincere. It is, dare I say it, “good.”
Although besmirched by the taint of Twilight, this is anything but. Lena (Alice Englert) may be a beautiful, pasty, angst-ridden teen surrounded by supernatural creatures, but she does not implicitly support semi-abusive stalker behavior like the brain-dead protagonist of said other franchise. Her beau, Ethan (Alden Ehrenreich) is actually a decent person, even if he looks like the love child of Bill Hader and John Mayer. The two may be “destined for one another,” but at least they have common interests like reading Bukowski. Rather than torment her mind, Ethan actually defends her honor after her uncle, Macon Ravenwood (Jeremy Irons), moves her to his small town to watch over her as she is “claimed” on her 16th birthday as a good or bad witch, depending on her “true nature.”
And what of the cast that comprises this town? I’ll be damned if that isn’t Viola Davis as a caretaker, Emma Thompson as an overbearing Christian crusader and Emmy Rossum as Lena’s cousin! Let the record show, Thompson’s accent alone is enough to stake my reputation in this film’s defense! Even newbies Englert and Ehrenreich bring a strange flavor beyond simple teenaged pouting.
Exhibit A: Tasteful and well-timed effects.
Exibit B: A never-too-serious-but-never-too-silly tone.
Exhibit C: The explicit message that attempts to blow apart the despicable “virgin/whore” archetypal female character dichotomy.
Exhibit D: It doesn’t even step into mimicry of the pop pseudo-goth demigod Tim Burton!
Exhibit E: Did I mention Thompson’s accent yet? Well, it’s worth mentioning again!
In closing, condemn me if you must. Cast my recommendations to the prison of irrelevance. But If I don’t speak for Beautiful Creatures, then who will? I ask you. Who. Will?
Grade = B+