Beautiful Creatures (2013 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Richard LaGravenese|
|Screenplay by||Richard LaGravenese|
|Based on||Beautiful Creatures
by Kami Garcia
|Editing by||David Moritz|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|Running time||124 minutes|
Beautiful Creatures is a 2013 American romantic fantasy film based upon the novel of the same name by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. The film was adapted for the screen and directed by Richard LaGravenese and stars Alden Ehrenreich, Alice Englert, Jeremy Irons, Viola Davis, Emmy Rossum, Thomas Mann, and Emma Thompson.
The film was released February 14, 2013. It received mixed reviews from critics and was a box office disappointment.
In Gatlin, South Carolina, Ethan Wate awakens from a recurring dream of a girl he does not know. In voice-over narration, he describes his enjoyment of reading banned books, his despair of his small-town existence, and his dreams of leaving for college. Arriving for his first day of junior year, Ethan notices newcomer Lena Duchannes, who resembles the girl he has been dreaming about. The other students do not take kindly to her and spread gossip regarding Lena's reclusive uncle, Macon Ravenwood, and suggest that her family includes devil worshippers. Overhearing these whispers, Lena tenses, and the classroom windows shatter, amplifying the fears and suspicions of the class and the townspeople at large that she is a witch.
On a drive home, Ethan nearly runs over Lena, whose car has broken down. He gives her a ride home, and the two bond over their shared love of poetry and having both lost their mothers. Ethan drops Lena off but later finds a locket and returns to the mansion to give it to her as a present. Touching the locket triggers a shared flashback to the American Civil War, after which Ethan awakens at his home. Macon disapproves of their love and fondness of each other, and conspires with Ethan's family friend, Amma, to keep the two separated. However, Ethan continues to pursue Lena until she confesses that she and her family are "casters" capable of performing magical spells that change the weather or create illusions. On her sixteenth birthday, Lena's true nature will steer her towards either the light or the dark; Lena fears the latter, as it entails being consumed by evil and hurting those she loves. Ethan insists she is responsible for her own choices and reassures her that she is a good person.
Matters are complicated by the arrival of two immensely powerful dark casters who aim to push Lena to the dark: Ridley, Lena's provocative cousin/childhood friend, and Sarafine, Lena's mother, who has possessed Mrs. Lincoln, the mother of Ethan's friend Link. Sarafine foresees that Lena will become an even more powerful caster and intends for Lena to use her newfound power to purge the Earth of humans, leaving casters to rule in their wake. Lena and Ethan use the locket to re-experience the whole flashback, which reveals their ancestors, caster Genevieve Duchannes and mortal Confederate soldier Ethan Carter Wate were in love. Ethan Carter was shot in battle, and Genevieve revived him using a forbidden spell that caused her to go dark and curse all the Duchannes family's women. They consult with Amma, who is in a seer/keeper of a caster library beneath the town library. The most ancient of these books, the Book of Moons, reveals the secret to undoing the curse: someone Lena loves has to die. Unwilling to take Ethan's life, Lena has a final moment together with Ethan in which Lena makes it snow and then erases all his memories of their time together.
Ridley seduces Link and gives him a bullet to use in an upcoming Civil War reenactment of the Battle of Honey Hill which will take place on Lena's birthday. During the reenactment, Link and Ethan agree to "kill" each other so they can ditch the reenactment. While at the ceremony for her 16th birthday, Lena feels the shock of the curse being broken and runs off to Ethan, clutching his dying body as Ridley and Sarafine encourage her to surrender to grief and accept the dark. Lena lashes out in anger, sending lightning strikes through the crowd of reenactors until Ethan transforms into Macon, who had previously disguised himself as Ethan to become the needed sacrifice. His dying words encourage Lena to "claim yourself"; she then causes the moon to disappear, so it cannot claim her for the dark. Lena allows Ridley to flee and pulls Sarafine from Mrs. Lincoln's body, using her power to seal Sarafine's spirit away.
Six months later, a still-amnesiac Ethan stops by the library to visit Amma before leaving for an NYU college tour with Link. He apologizes to Lena for not having got to know her during their time in Gatlin. When he inquires if a "banned book" by Charles Bukowski (which she had shared with him when they first met) is any good and Lena asks him to define good (the same reply she gave the first time he asked), Lena then presents it to him as a "getting out of Gatlin present". As Link drives away, Ethan reads a passage in the book that he had earlier associated with Lena, while Lena is revealed in the caster library to be a half light/dark caster. As they drive past the town line, Ethan glimpses the town's burned welcome sign and remembers everything. The car skids to a halt, Ethan gets out of the car and yells Lena's name. She hears him call, and is freed of her dark side before the screen fades to black.
- Alden Ehrenreich as Ethan Lawson Wate
- Alice Englert as Lena Duchannes
- Jeremy Irons as Macon Melchizedek Ravenwood
- Viola Davis as Amarie "Amma" Treadeau
- Emmy Rossum as Ridley Duchannes
- Thomas Mann as Wesley Jefferson "Link" Lincoln
- Emma Thompson as Mavis Lincoln / Sarafine Duchannes
- Margo Martindale as Delphine Duchannes "Aunt Del"
- Eileen Atkins as Emmaline Duchannes "Gramma"
- Zoey Deutch as Emily Asher
- Tiffany Boone as Savannah Snow
- Kyle Gallner as Larkin Kent
- Rachel Brosnahan as Genevieve Katherine Duchannes
- Pruitt Taylor Vince as Mr. Lee
- Robin Skye as Mrs. Hester
- Randy Redd as Reverend Stephens
- Lance E. Nichols as Mayor Snow
- Leslie Castay as Principal Herbert
- Sam Gilroy as Ethan Carter Wate
- Gwendolyn Mulamba as Mrs. Snow
- Cindy Hogan as Mrs. Asher
Alcon Entertainment purchased the rights to Beautiful Creatures in 2009, with director Richard LaGravenese signing on soon after to write and direct the movie. Casting for the film began in late 2011, and in February 2012, Viola Davis was cast as Amma. Soon after, Jack O'Connell and Alice Englert were announced to be playing the lead characters of Ethan Wate and Lena Duchannes. O'Connell later dropped out of the film due to a scheduling conflict, with Alden Ehrenreich assuming the role of Ethan. Further casting included Emma Thompson as Sarafine and Mrs. Lincoln and Jeremy Irons as Lena's uncle Macon Ravenwood. Of the character of Lena, Englert stated that "Lena is like most girls when you feel massively insecure".
Principal photography was originally scheduled to begin April 23, 2012, in New Orleans, and took place, said LaGravenese, beginning "I think, April 16th, and then we shot until June 26th, and then post[-production] was for me from July 5th to December 17th." LaGravenese chose to incorporate practical special effects along with computer-based ones for certain scenes, as Emmy Rossum described: "[W]hen we walked on to the stage and realized the chandelier does actually move, the chairs did actually spin, the table did actually spin... it was all very exciting." On September 19, 2012, the first trailer for Beautiful Creatures was released.
Camille Balsamo played Katherine Duchannes in a sequence cut from the film, LaGravenese said:
There was one part that I shot on green screen where I had all these actresses playing all the different Duchannes women from different periods [from the Civil War on]. And my costume designer, Jeffrey Kurland, had gowns and things, one was from the turn of the century, one was from the ’20s, one was from the ’40s, one was from the '60s, and they were going to appear in the first flashback and at the end of the movie, and then I cut them. ... It was just an idea that didn't work.
Differences from the novel
The film is overall loyal to the book in some aspects though there are some significant changes which have brought mixed reactions from fans of the books themselves with some declaring their outright hatred of the film for it's differences with the novel while other fans favored the film for the way it was layed out and they accepted it for what it was.
Although most main characters remained in the film their physical descriptions differ from the novel. In the novel Lena Duchannes is described as having jet black curly hair and dressing in a goth-like manner always wearing black nail polish and gothic clothing which eventually became her trademark. However in the film Lena has wavy brown hair and always dresses in a mostly beige and plain old-fashioned style. In the novel Savannah Snow is described as being white with blonde hair whereas in the film she is African American. The film depicts Ridley Duchannes as having red cropped hair as opposed to her long blonde hair with pink streaks in the novel and because of her status as a siren she is capable of shape shifting, a detail which isn't in the novel. Ridley's trademark lollipop in the novel doesn't appear as often in the film and Ridley is shown to usually eat a large variety of sweets instead. Several important characters from the novel were excluded from the film such as: The Sisters, Thelma, Fatty, Reece Duchannes, Ryan Duchannes, and Mitchell Wate (though Mitchell is constantly mentioned throughout the film and appeared only in a deleted scene excluded from the final cut). Marian Ashcroft, another main character from the novel, has also been cut from the film and instead has been combined with Amma's character to create one "elegant" character as stated by the director. Ethan and Lena's special Kelting connection is omitted from the movie. In the novel Macon Ravenwood is portrayed as an Incubus who feeds on dreams instead of blood as opposed to the film where he is portrayed as a powerful dark caster instead. Emily Asher does not seem to hate Ethan in the film and even states that she missed him during the summer. In the novel Ethan and Emily break up after Ethan takes her to the formal in a rusty volvo, which ruins her hair. As a result she begins to harbor a deep hatred for him. In the novel Lena had a choice of whether she wanted to be a light or dark caster unlike the rest of her family whereas in the film she had no choice and in order to break the family curse someone she loved had to die which is a detail that isn't a part of the novel. Lena also never erases Ethan's mind of their time as a couple together in the novel. Ethan and Lena's main relationship problem in the novel is their physical / sexual intimacy problem, not being able to barely even kiss without Ethan suffering physical repercussions. This detail is omitted from the film entirely and the film even implies that they have sex during one scene. Larkin is revealed to be a dark caster in the novel, only pretending to be light. This never occurs in the film. In the novel Ethan dies after being fatally stabbed by Sarafine, Lena and Amma then resurrect him by making a deal with The Book of Moons by trading his life with someone else's therefore setting up the events for Beautiful Chaos. Ethan however does not die in the film. Ridley and Link's relationship in the film isn't as obvious as it was in the novel as the film puts more emphasis on Ethan and Lena's relationship. Lena drives a pale yellow-white Mercedes Benz in the film instead of the signature black hearse in the novel.
Beautiful Creatures' release date was originally scheduled to be on February 13, 2013, but distributor Warner Bros. later pushed the date to Thursday, February 14, 2013. The film was still released in Sweden on the 13th, a day before the film's North American release date. The film held its official US premiere on February 11, 2013, in New York City.
Beautiful Creatures was released on DVD and Blu-ray on May 21, 2013. In its first month in release, the film sold around 428,792 copies in both DVD and Blu-ray formats combined, bringing in a consumer revenue of $7,377,859. As of June 16, 2013, the film has grossed an estimated $10,054,331 in DVD and Blu-ray sales.
While the film was considered to be a flop domestically, only grossing $19,452,138 by the end of its North American domestic theatrical run (against a $60 million production budget) it did better internationally, where it has grossed $40,600,000. As of April 21, 2013, the film has grossed a worldwide total of $60,052,138, barely recouping its production budget, making it a loss.
The film has received average reviews from critics; it has a 46% rating on review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 169 reviews, with the site's consensus stating: "Charming romantic leads and esteemed supporting cast aside, Beautiful Creatures is a plodding YA novel adaptation that feels watered down for the Twilight set". On Metacritic, the film received a score of 52% based on 40 reviews, indicating mixed or average reviews.
Owen Gleiberman, in Entertainment Weekly, gave the film a "B-", writing, "Beautiful Creatures is arriving in a market-place full of Twilight junkies still eager for their supernatural teen-romantic fix, and the film's concept couldn't be clearer: It's Twilight with the sexes reversed. This time it's the boy who's the mortal: moody, bookish Ethan, the outsider in his sleepy small town." Gleiberman added that though the film "is lushly pictorial and not-too-badly acted...[but] the audience, like Ethan, spends way too much time waiting around for Lena to learn whether she's a good girl or a bad girl."
The film review website ScreenRant called the film "a choppy and melodramatic experience with very little payoff beyond the central love story. Worse yet, overlooking the usual on-the-nose dialogue about eternal love and sacrifice, this tale of star-crossed sweethearts is especially cheesy and unconvincing – even when compared to similarly heavy-handed young adult novel-turned-movies. Fans of the supernatural romance sub-genre will get about what they expect..."
David Denby of The New Yorker wrote that the movie "is a classic example of the confusions and the outright blunders that can overtake talented people who commit themselves to a concept driven purely by the movie marketplace... Alas, the satirical energy and Ethan's bright talk dissipate after a while." He praises a scene from the Civil War flashback which "appears as Ethan and Lena are watching a movie in a local theatre, but only they can see it" as "an interesting idea that I wish LaGravenese had pursued as a parallel narrative. This kind of movie, however, demands not interesting ideas but whooshing spectacle and madly redundant climaxes and a soundtrack filled with thuds and a shouting female chorus."
Scott Mendelson of Forbes magazine called the film "shockingly good" and encouraged viewers who missed it to check it out on video.
Cinemascore audience polls gave the film a B grade.
|2013 Teen Choice Awards||Choice Movie Romance||Nominated|
|Choice Movie Actor Romance||Alden Ehrenreich||Nominated|
|Choice Movie Actress Romance||Alice Englert||Nominated|
|Choice Movie: Sci-Fi/Fantasy||Nominated|
|Choice Movie Breakout||Alice Englert||Nominated|
|Choice Movie Liplock||Alden Ehrenreich and Alice Englert||Nominated|
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- Ray Subers (February 19, 2013). "Around-the-World Roundup: Fifth 'Die Hard' Has 'Good Day' Overseas". Box Office Mojo. "Domestic dissapointment"
- Grady Smith (Feb 14). "Box office preview: 'Die Hard' gunning for No. 1 over holiday weekend". Inside Movies | EW.com. Time Inc. Retrieved September 28, 2013. "Beautiful Creatures will likely have to settle for rather ugly $15 million four-day weekend"
- Ray Subers (February 14, 2013). "Forecast: Fifth 'Die Hard' Should Blow Up Presidents Weekend". Box Office Mojo. "... all had four-day starts north of $20 million, which is a reasonable expectation for Beautiful Creatures."
- Dorothy Pomerantz, Forbes Staff (2013-08-20). "'The Mortal Instruments' Is Not The Next 'Hunger Games.' So What Is?". "The film went on to earn just $60 million, about the same as it cost to make the movie. But considering only half the ticket money goes back to studio (in this case Warner Bros.), the film was a loss"
- Beautiful Creatures at Rotten Tomatoes
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- Scott Mendelson (2013-08-24). "'The Butler' Tops Again, 'The Mortal Instruments' Bombs". Forbes.
- Smith, Grady (February 17, 2013). "Movies Box office report: 'Die Hard' holds off 'Safe Haven' with $25 million; 'Beautiful Creatures' has ugly debut". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved April 18, 2014.
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- Official website
- Beautiful Creatures at the Internet Movie Database
- Beautiful Creatures at Box Office Mojo
- Beautiful Creatures at Rotten Tomatoes
- Beautiful Creatures at Metacritic