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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Everyone's a Critic: Beautiful Creatures

Maxing out on the movies this week - see nothing for ages and then all of a sudden I want to see everything.

Went alone (gasp!) to Beautiful Creatures last night, and was treated to a back row full of young teen girls, several of whom considered yelling "SHHHHHHH GUYS!" to be the epitome of polite consideration towards the other 4 audience members.  I have to say, I don't think 'Portia' nor 'Hannah' have a career in Human Resources lurking in their futures.

That aside, and the obligatory SPOILERS warning, this movie too I had no previous exposure to, though now I am thinking I will ferret out the book to read (there are 4 books in the series, at this point), since my major bugbear with the movie was the lack of substantial background given.  I wonder if this is how other people have felt seeing all of the previous movies to which I was intimately familiar with the books.  (LOTR, HP, P&P, Jack Reacher etc etc)  I think you must fill in a lot of the background knowledge you have obtained from the book into the fabric of the movie and not even consciously notice you are doing it, and so miss all the holes.

So - Beautiful Creatures.  A girl moves to a town in the horrific bible-belt south of the United States, to live with her uncle, the wealthy descendent of the towns establishing family and a bit of a 'spooky' recluse.  She attends school and blows out the windows of the classroom when the popular girls start praying for her salvation in English class, opposed to studying TKAMB because it is on the list of their church's banned books.  Honestly - I don't understand how any child could be told such a thing and not automatically seek to read the book in secret.  God knows I only read Fifty Shades (Oh yeah I did) because of all the fuss and bother.

Anyway - this girl, Lena, has apparent 'power'.  The male lead, Ethan, is a jock who aspires to greater intelligence and is struck with the new girl, and dumps the bible bashing bitch in the first scenes.  He cannot wait to leave the small town, is applying for all colleges as long as they are 'at least a thousand miles away' and who's Mother died, and father is a shut-in   Right, that's pretty much him for the whole movie.  He, obviously, falls in love with the lead, and she eventually takes all of his memories of her to keep him safe.  Glorious southern accents abound, be warned.

Basic plot summary - girl will be 'claimed' by either the 'light' or the 'dark' on her 16th birthday, depending on the judging of her 'true nature'.  Boys, apparently, have the will to choose.  Don't even get me started on that wee gem.

Gah!  GAH!!

Ahem.  Her mother and closest cousin turned dark and were subsequently ejected from the family (boys can stay - need I say GAH! again?!), and you wonder why they are filled with hate and resentment?!  "No, sorry, against your will you have been labelled 'bad', get out of my house you naughty 16 year old!"

I think I am judging this shit harsher than I normally would...

The darkness always claiming the women is apparently the result of a curse invoked by their ancestor whom brought back her lover to life after seeing him shot in a civil war skirmish, a spell forbidden in its use to any 'caster' ('witch' is a derogatory term, did you not know?!), so of course all the women who come after have to be punished.  After a lengthy search in a secret underground 'caster' library, Lena discovers that for the curse to be be broken, someone whom she loves has to die in payment.  (her uncle disguises himself as Ethan and dies in his place, just to ruin the whole ending twist for you, straight up.  You're welcome).

Overall, I fail to see how this is labelled 'Gothic' - she has darkish hair, and a penchant for copious amounts of dark eye-liner  and the family estate is sufficiently 'spooky', read = 'overgrown and messy'.  I did like how her hair was frizzy as fuck, and she was not immediately strikingly beautiful, so extra points in that regards for avoiding clichés (like pretty face+horrible hair='ugly', magic makeover - suddenly beautiful.  Fuck off).

There were no limits given to her power, though we are told that she will be the most powerful of all current casters and will usher them into a new cycle, governed by whichever power claims her.  Her uncles dark power is also supposedly waning since he is 'pretending' to be light.  Her cousin is a siren, with no explanation as to how she received that particular skill on her 16th birthday, nor if the phenomenon was common.  Her mother is only able to inhabit other peoples bodies with no explanation of how she came to lose her own (or indeed if she never had one, how she birthed a child).  Her mother possesses Professor Trelawney at one point and pulls the line "name one species that would miss them [mortals]" to the uncle, arguing that they all should be killed off.  She immediately continues talking, because obviously I thought of 5 species straight off whom would miss us very much, and I'll give you a clue for one - rhymes with cubic mice.

Several times we are told that Lena's powers are growing fast and she cannot control them, yet there is no mention of learning or training or anything of the sort; 'casting' seems to be instinctual - a canon I am not at all a fan of.

So the uncle dies looking like Ethan, shot by Ethan's best friend who was under the sway of the siren-cousin at the behest of the mother, the curse is supposedly lifted and Lena turns out to be both light and dark, and only has fire in one iris.  Yeah, that's a thing.  She kills her mother and just...goes back to school.

Ethan goes on a road trip to visit colleges with his bestie, whom survived the siren, and regains his taken memories of Lena as he drives out of town, pulling over the car he jumps out and screams her name, of which she hears way back in the library.  End film.

Overall impression?  Not great, but not the worst flick I've ever sat through.  I think if you like supposed (weak) 'Gothic fantasy' you might be willing to see this as a diversion, but don't expect to be blown away.  I hate to say it but...Twilight had more substance.  Groan.  Parts were quite funny and other parts were quite reminiscent of Dark Shadows, so not a total loss.

3 out of 5 (where: 1=actively burning it, 2=waste of time, 3=don't regret having seen it, but... 4=good movie, recommended, 5=blewmymindwhyhaven'tyouseenityetI'vegottoseeitagaintalktoyoulater).

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