Beautiful Creatures, Too Many Changes for it’s Readers?

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Beautiful Creatures hits theaters today and the one thing on my mind is whether avid readers of the Caster Chronicles are going to like the changes that Richard LaGravenese (Screenwriter as well as Director) made to the Novel that Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl created.

Beautiful Creatures –

A supernatural love story set in the South, “Beautiful Creatures” tells the tale of two star-crossed lovers:  Ethan (Alden Ehrenreich), a young man longing to escape his small town, and Lena (Alice Englert), a mysterious new girl.  Together, they uncover dark secrets about their respective families, their history and their town.
Oscar® nominee Richard LaGravenese (“The Fisher King,”“P.S. I Love You”) directs from his adaptation of the first novel in the best-selling series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.  The film stars Alden Ehrenreich (“Tetro”), newcomer Alice Englert, Academy Award® winner Jeremy Irons (“Reversal of Fortune”) Oscar® nominee Viola Davis (“The Help,” “Doubt”), Emmy Rossum (TV’s “Shameless”), Thomas Mann (“Project X”) and Academy Award® winner Emma Thompson (“Howard’s End,” “Sense and Sensibility”).

With a stellar cast as well as production team the movie is certainly a must see. But as a movie goer that likes to read the books so that I have something to compare it to I was a little disappointed. In my opinion LaGravenese made some pretty drastic changes to the story line that might be hard to come back from if they continue making the rest of the saga. It was severely rushed and I didn’t feel like the young couple really fell in love like they did in the book. But changes aside visually the movie was amazing.

Atlanta Moms on the Move sat down with two of the cast members, Thomas Mann (Link) and Zoey Deutch (Emily) to hear their thoughts on the film and their possible Twilight style fame.

AMOM– Did you both read the books prior to filming?

Thomas – No, I did not but Zoey did. But let me explain why. When I first met with Richard he told me that his scripts varied a lot from the books. He didn’t want me to get confused because it is a different take on it and I didn’t want to get it muddled. I just stuck to Richards vision and then read the book after.

AMOM – Do you think you are ready for Twilight style fandamonium and fame?

Both Thomas and Zoey muddled around saying I don’t know and then finally admitting no they weren’t ready

Thomas – But we all hope the movie does really well.

AMOM – You had a great crowd at the signing at Barnes and Noble so the diehard fans are already there.

Thomas – It’s so exciting that there is already enthusiasm built in, it’s just really nice.

Zoey – Everyone was so nice and excited. It’s just cool to see it.

Thomas and Zoey were great and I’m thankful for the sit down. I also wanted to gauge a diehard readers take on the film. So I asked the family that was first in line with all four books in hand to contact me after the screening. This is what they had to say.

Beautiful Creatures pulls off a neat trick to bust the hand-wringing, navel-gazing teen paranormal romance stereotype: It gets you to care about its characters by making them genuinely likeable.

Alden Ehrenreich is terrific as small town dreamer Ethan, relentlessly happy, funny and earnest, impossible not to root for. Alice Englert plays possibly-doomed teen witch Lena just right: gloomy, angsty outcast gradually opening up to and won over by Ethan, at times seeming actually happy herself. Emma Thompson plays the villain with aplomb, and Jeremy Irons as an antebellum southern gentleman (with super powers!) is cast well, too.

There are dozens of bits of funny dialogue (including Emma Thompson’s winning “well, slap my ass and call me Sally!”), testament to a conscious effort to make an anti-Twilight movie, rather than another mopey the-world-is-ending unusual-teen romance with a couple instances of comic relief. At the advance screening in Atlanta, the audience laughed out loud with regularity.

The ending, which readers of the book won’t recognize, made the same theater squirm at the edge of their seats, willing a particular outcome the filmmakers successfully leave in doubt. By then you’re so interested in a happy ending for all concerned that you’re genuinely afraid of being disappointed.

One niggle is that Lena’s problem, which has to do with good, evil, a curse, the winter solstice, her awful mother and a weird and busybody family, is too complicated to be intuitive. But the story needs all of the complicated elements, and the movie doesn’t slip into taking itself Twilight-level seriously while laying them all out.

My 14-year-old daughter, who read the book shortly after it came out and the other books in the series within days of their release, was deliriously happy with the film version, despite lots of departures from the novel. She posted on Facebook on the way home from the theater, “Okay wow…what did I just see? The best movie ever. I’m gonna go look out the window and wonder why I’m such a normal person.” Which is what a good story well told often makes teenagers do.

So there you have it folks and full review and cast sit down of the fantastic Beautiful Creatures. Check it out today is in theaters now.

 

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Meghan Cooper is a writer, content creator, movie critic, and geek living in Atlanta, Ga. She loves movies, traveling, and lots of coffee. Member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association, Georgia Film Critics Association, and Atlanta Film Critics Circle. Buy me a coffee

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