Saturday, March 02, 2013

Beautiful Creatures

Winter Sonata

The word on the street is that this is the expected successor after the conclusion of the Twilight film franchise, having some parallels in its tale that deals with the supernatural, and love between a being of higher power and that of an ordinary human except for the reversal of genders, and set in a schooling environment of an idyllic small town where people know just about everyone else. It's also based on a successful series of novels by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, so it's everyone's bet just how this first installment would perform that would determine its future as a potential film franchise, where many other potentials have fallen after its initial start - The Dark is Rising, The Golden Compass, and I am Number Four, to name but a few in this genre.

Beautiful Creatures starts off rather beautifully, with awesome visuals that would set to engage and create that visual feast for the eyes, crafting a mystery from the onset in the dreams of protagonist Ethan Wate (Alden Ehrenreich), who see an ominous sequence of events, only to not see who that raven haired female is due to a deliberate obscuring by her long tresses. But soon enough the latest stranger in town happens to be Lena Duchannes (Alice Englert), who brings forth with her immense powers, conveniently unleashed against those who taunt her because of their small town mentality, especially that of Ethan's ex Emily (Zoey Deutch).

But Lena has other problems to worry about, and that's due to an internal family feud, with different camps set up who want her pledged allegiance, being a caster and thought to be one of the most powerful ones yet. On one hand there's Macon (Jeremy Irons) her uncle who serves as adviser and father figure. But on the other, is mom Safarine (Emma Thompson) and evil cousin Ridley (Emmy Rossum) who try to turn her, all of whom come together for that merry celebration of computer generated imagery that in all honesty, are gorgeously rendered, making Beautiful Creatures live up to its namesake. It's almost like Star Wars with Safarine dead set in getting Lena turn to the dark side when it's her 16th birthday, so that they can rule the universe and galaxy with their powers, between mother and daughter. Lofty ambitions, but that's what evil folks fantasize about.

The romance is something you'd have to get used to though, since it forms the bulk of the story here. If you're a fan of Twilight and its treatment of first love between two unlikely beings separated by life, then this would be something quite up the same alley, with inherent powers that define the abilities of one side of the couple, which are used for that effective courtship. There's plenty of cooing between the love birds here as they spend time together like any teenager in love, if not researching with Amma (Viola Davis), who is a seer of the town, and an ally in Lena's identity crisis.

If I had to give this film its due credit, it will be how it set up the hook for that emotional resonance in the final scene. There has to be some personal sacrifice in store for our protagonists in order to cement their relationship, although the solution presented here was of a taller order, that called for some twists during the big magical battle set against the recreation of the Civil War's Battle of Honey Hill. It was in fact, the final few minutes that became the movie's saving grace, and lifted it from mediocrity, providing it that bit of a heart beat and soul that primed itself for subsequent episodes in the series.

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