Book to movie review: “Beautiful Creatures”

The people who’ve been reading the blog for the past two years know that, with the exemption of “Beautiful Redemption“, I have been a very big supporter of the “Beautiful Creatures” series. I quite frankly bawled at the end of “Beautiful Chaos”.

When news of the movie adaptation came out, I was understandably excited, especially when Jack O’ Connell was first cast in the role of Ethan. Then he got replaced by Alden Ehrenreich, and I was a little bummed.

BUT THEN! Emma Thompson and Jeremy Irons got cast as Sarafine and Macon, respectively, and I felt myself getting excited for the movie adaptation again. Add to that the fact that the movie had some pretty impressive trailers, and I was quite pumped to see it over the weekend.

beautiful-creatures-movie-posterQuite frankly, there’s a lot of things in the movie for people to complain about. Purists will be up in arms at how much the movie differs from the book. Movie critics will lambast it for how sloppily it was made. And somebody from the South will probably make fun of all the accents in the movie.

I can’t say I disagree either. Lots of characters have been jettisoned, and it doesn’t always result  in something good. Combining the characters of Amma and Marion into one streamlines the narrative, but it also resulted in a character that isn’t as memorable as the Amma in the book was.

Link is basically non-existent in the movie, reduced to just making out with Emmy Rossum. Which really isn’t all that bad a gig if you’re a straight guy. But the character is no longer the lovable doof from the book.

In fact, the least likable characters from the book — Ethan and Lena — end up being the most relatable characters in the movie. Their love story comes off as more grounded here in the movie than in the book, and there is an authenticity in their interactions that just wasn’t present in the novel.

Plot also seems to be the least of the film’s considerations. Magical terms are handed out so willy-nilly that those who didn’t read the book will most definitely be confused,  and anything that could set the stage for the second book/film were discarded. It’s like they already knew that this was the first and last time that they would be able to do this.

But having said all that, 10 minutes into the movie I was already hopelessly in love with it. Crazy, right?

Maybe it’s because I grew up reading so much Anne Rice that anything set in the South is immediately fascinating and charming to me. Maybe I just have a thing for anything even remotely gothic — and I think I can still blame Anne Rice for that. But I just found all of the craziness in “Beautiful Creatures” so entertaining.

I also loved how helpless all of the men in this movie were. It was refreshing for me that a supernatural teen romance has the women keeping the men in thrall. The climactic confrontation scene — where it was just Lena, Sarafine, and Ridley — was so fascinating for me to watch because the only male character was dying on the ground and didn’t say a word.

I also liked how it is made more explicit in the movie that Lena chose to be both light and dark. I thought it was very inspiring to have this young girl declare that she isn’t just the Virgin or just the Whore. She can be a little bit of both, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

It was most definitely not a good movie, and I don’t think I’d recommend it to other people who I don’t really know personally. But I most certainly enjoyed it, and if you think the same way that I do, you’ll probably enjoy it too.

Now have some pictures of Alden Ehrenreich.

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