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Movie review: Beautiful Creatures

Southern setting and Oscar-winning actors save this movie

Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures

February 16, 2013 | 1:00 p.m. CST

Southern charm and Oscar-winning actors come to the rescue of Beautiful Creatures.

Based on the first novel in a series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, the film contains elements similar to Twilight, which involves sparkly supernatural beings and a sulking mortal girl. However, this story of fated teenage love stands apart with the help of seasoned actors and a delightful setting.

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Lena Duchannes (Alice Englert) and Ethan Wate (Alden Ehrenreich) are a star-crossed pair who come together in Gatlin, S.C., a town where Civil War reenactments are a regular occurrence and church is the weekend’s main event.

As the innocent human dumbfounded by love, Ethan steps in some thick honeydew when he is allured by her dark, brooding mannerisms in a high school English class.

The Cullen family of Twilight has nothing on Lena’s complicated clan, who maintain a family tradition as “Casters.” These cunning witches and warlocks await the day of Lena’s 16th birthday, when she will be either claimed for the light or the dark side of the magical life. If the latter is her fate, her family awaits the day she will lead the casters to a world dominated by their magic.

When the scenes don’t involve an overwhelming amount of special effects, Englert and Ehrenreich’s on-screen high school romance is both believable and eccentrically sweet. Ethan’s quirky remarks and Lena’s dark sense of humor make them a contrastingly cute couple.

Of course, the motif of magical powers results in the predictable struggle of good versus evil. Audiences might recognize the familiar struggles of a supernatural relationship when Lena utters the line, “I don’t want to hurt you.” Hello, female Edward Cullen.

Yet in moments that threaten to be cliche, the talent of this movie’s storied stars save the day.

As Lena’s protective uncle, Macon Ravenwood, Oscar-winning actor Jeremy Irons adds his usual mysterious bite that prevents the film from having any sickeningly sweet moments.

Also of Academy Award-winning fame, actress Emma Thompson employs a sultry draw and evil persona that pull the plot along with the magic of good acting.

The Help’s Viola Davis does the same as a steady, all-knowing character. Davis’ character adds explanation to a plot that could use a little practical explanation at times, such as when poor Ethan becomes the subject of tumultuous magic in an effort to help Lena resist dark magic.

A character in itself, the sleepy town allows elements of the history of the Civil War. The enticing quirks of the South make this film stand a level above a common supernatural romance.

Vox Rating: V V

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