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|