Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Beautiful Creatures movie review & Blizzard photos

Three years ago I reviewed Beautiful Creatures on its print debut and interviewed the authors, Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. Yesterday I went to a prescreening of the movie adaptation, which will be released on Valentine's Day. Familiar elements were the star-crossed lovers and the casters (the politically correct term for witches and wizards), but the deep south setting with Gothic undertones made this young adult novel unique. Dripping moss, crumbling tombstones, a dilapidated plantation and a timeless small town translated well to the big screen.

Richard LaGravenese's clever screenplay was true to the spirit of the book with a few modifications. Alice Englert (Jane Campion's daughter and a dead ringer for Debra Winger) was well cast as caster Lena, bringing more heart to the character than she had on the page. Alden Ehrenreich is a likable Ethan, a popular jock who reads Kurt Vonnegut and dreams of college. His bond with Lena is as much intellectual as passionate, quite unusual for a teen movie. Amma, played by the superb Viola Davies, is now the librarian. I missed Amma's southern cooking, but that was worth sacrificing to avoid the cliché of the big-hearted African American maid. Sadly, there is only a hint of her voodoo magic. Uncle Macon, no longer a vampire, is a more compelling character played by Jeremy Irons. The actress who steals the show is Emma Thompson, delighting in her wicked role.

Beautiful Creatures is a teen movie that parents won't mind seeing with the kids. The few violent scenes are not especially graphic and sex is barely implied, making it appropriate for tweens as well. The special effects, although quite cool, are a bit distracting; this is a big budget Hollywood production. The literary tie-in To Kill a Mockingbird is weaker in the movie, but it's still there. For complexity and depth, a 563-page novel beats a two-hour movie. Still, fans of the book won't be disappointed, and hopefully the movie will lead more teens to discover the marvelous book, the first in a series, so expect sequel movies too.

Reviewers Disclosure: I watched a free prescreening but was not paid to write this review.



For those of you who asked how Maine fared in Blizzard Nemo:

Our back deck
Henry shoveling after 6 hours

Scout in the backyard with 26 inches of snow

18 comments:

tina said...

Aw Scout is snowed in! I've been seeing the trailer for Beautiful Creatures-it looks quite interesting!

Jane and Lance Hattatt said...

Hello Sarah:
It sounds as if 'Beautiful Creatures' has transferred to the screen more successfully than most. We have to say that, in general, we remain firmly on the side of the novel but, just occasionally, the film can be superior. It would appear that the novel is still the stronger partner here but, as you say, the film may be just enticing enough to bring readers to the novel and this can be no bad thing.

Your snowy images are amazing. Only a light covering here in comparison....it must all have come to you this year!!

A Cuban In London said...

Debra Winger! There's a "caster" from my past. :-) I didn't know Jane Campion's daughter was an actress. If she's half as good as her mum is I will have to check her out soon. Thanks a lot for your review.

Greetings from London.

Nantucket Daffodil said...

Scout looks so pretty in ALL of that snow :)

troutbirder said...

Wow! I think that more snow in one shot than we've had total in the last three years here in Minnesnowda. Our drought continues in Bluff Country and is very worrisome....

walk2write said...

Someone else I know in Maine has been keeping us updated on the weather conditions there. It looks like fun (except for shovelling it, driving in it, hearing your roof creaking and crackling because of its weight...)

The movie and book will be interesting to see side-by-side. Funny you should mention Harper Lee's TKAM. Someone we know grew up near the town where she's from and said there's a play performed there every year based on the novel. The townsfolk perform all the roles. One of these days I'll have to travel up there (it's not far from here) and see it.

Petra said...

A nice portion of snow! :)

I've read your interview and feel intrigued by finding out that the novel was written by two authors. I can only admire the way they cooperated. Wow.

I like the Ethan's (?) statement in the trailer: "I don't believe that we have one fate and no choice." I don't believe that too.

Gloria said...

this is a nice review Sarah.I love your dogh picture in the snow!! ohmy!! a lot of snow!!
Have a nice day tomorrow°

Donna said...

I really enjoyed your movie review and I'm going to go back and re-read your interview with the authors. I had forgotten about that!
I'm reading Beautiful Creatures right now and I'm planning on seeing the movie on Saturday. When I saw the preview at the theater a few weeks ago and saw that Emma Thompson was in it, that sealed the deal that I need to read the book and see the movie. She's one of my favorite actresses. I've been meaning to read the Beautiful Creatures series for awhile. I am really enjoying the first book. I love the blend of magic, the Southern gothic feel, the literary tie-ins with To Kill a Mockingbird, and yes, I'll admit, it reminds me a little of Twilight, which I loved!
26 inches of snow--wow! I sure do miss those Nor'easters!

E Wix said...

Scout probably loved it more than anyone else....!
Keep safe and warm. Going to be 50'F here tomorrow!

Alyson (New England Living) said...

I may just have to take my two daughters with me and go see that movie! While I am not a fan of Twilight, this looks like it might be more up my alley.

I love that picture of Scout in the snow! Looks like he is in heaven.

Les said...

At least one of you seems to have enjoyed the snow.

kacky said...

Yeah, you could say you got some snow. Look at Scout. Too cute. I can't get over all that snow!!!!! It is beautiful but then, I am not living in it.....

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I saw the previews and thought Emma Thompson looked as though she was having so much fun. A good popcorn movie.

Edward is incredibly envious of Scout's snow!!

Amanda said...

i've been seeing this film trailer a lot and didn't know it was adapted from a book, and a good one from the sound of your review.

i was wondering about how you fared in the blizzard. there is something adorable about seeing a dog snorkleing in the snow - scout looks like she's enjoying herself immensely!

Cid said...

So glad to read your review but I think I'll wait til it comes out on DVD and read the book in the meantime.

cynthia newberry martin said...

So happy to see your photos! And so jealous--would love to see all that snow. Hope you kept your power and were able to stay close to home and enjoy it.

Carol said...

Sarah, The trailer of Beautiful Creatures sure packs a whack. Quite the love story. I think I may have to see it to see Emma Thompson's performance too. Your load of snow covers the darkness and Scout too. It was quite the storm. My back hurts seeing Henry's shovel load . . . I had a similar entrance to yours and I cannot say ever remembering the snow climbing up the doors so that I was only able to get out through a door that opened in . . . with no storm door. White on white is quite beautiful.