“Beautiful Creatures” surprisingly charming supernatural romance

“Beautiful Creatures” is a supernatural romance movie based on a series of novels, as many movies of the last decade seem to be. The story revolves around supernatural beings, known as Casters (which is to say, Spellcasters, or hereditary witches), whom are pulled between Light and Dark. The females of the family are destined to be claimed by one or the other on their 16th birthday. Lena, the protagonist, has just moved to Gatlin, and is nearing her 16th birthday, dreading that she’ll be claimed by the Dark.

What seemed to be a derivative piece of drivel made purely to jump on the supernatural romance bandwagon instead stands apart from that genre. It naturally invites comparisons to “Twilight,” given that “Twilight” brought the genre to mainstream awareness.  There is an idea in physics that every action has an opposite and/or reaction, and “Beautiful Creatures” represents that. One might expect, as I did, a story full of clichéd stereotypes, horrible mental deviance masquerading as “love,” and a heroine who is more akin to a prop than a character.

Instead, “Beautiful Creatures” has smart dialogue. The movie name-drops some of the greatest controversial novels of the western world, such as “Slaughterhouse Five,” and “Clockwork Orange.” For example, the contempt displayed for small town xenophobic fundamentalist attitudes is palpable.

“Beautiful Creatures” seems to have studied “Twilight,” so it could do the exact opposite of what “Twilight” did, and, consequently, it has become the model of Supernatural Romance. It did not derail the mundane love interest. It did not forget that the entire point of a supernatural character is that they have awesome powers above and beyond mortals.

Most importantly, it portrayed love reasonably well. It did not confuse obsession, stalking, or abuse for love. Nor did it show that love is perfect, and flawless, and that couples never fight or argue. The young couple, while naïve, play off of one another quite well, and when they do hurtful things, it’s because they think those hurtful choices are better than the alternative, just as real couples might.

Ultimately, it was a fairly average movie. It gets points for depicting a real, genuinely good relationship, having compelling “villains,” using a variety of southern accents, each fitting the speaking character, and for breaking away from Hollywood clichés in several places to great effect. For example, there is a scene of a woman calling on a spirit, and it is not the worst representation of Voodoo in Hollywood.

Let’s be honest, what you really want to know is if this is “Twilight” with witches. If you liked “Twilight,” you will hate this movie, because you clearly have no taste. If you hated “Twilight,” you’ll probably like this move, unless you just don’t like supernatural genre flicks. If you liked “Twilight” conceptually, but wish it had been better written, “Beautiful Creatures” might be more to your taste.

Overall, I would give “Beautiful Creatures” a 4 out 5. It’s a bit generous, but it completely defied my expectations.

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