Thursday, February 7, 2013

Beautiful Creatures- Early Film Review

Since the beginning of the year I have discovered the adventure of early screenings. It all started with someone handing me passes to Warm Bodies, and the discovery of a whole new world of early passes. Through one of my new acquaintances made while standing in line, I found out about a slew of websites that let you see where the latest showing in your area is taking place and how to sign up. So far Kody Boye and I have received passes for Mama and Beautiful Creatures. We have our fingers crossed for Oz.

The thing about early screenings is that you have to be there very early. The movie studios give out a lot more passes than available seats to make sure the theater is full. We arrived at 3:30 yesterday to find quite a few people already in line. You also have to wait a long time before you enter the theater. For Mama we were allowed to sit in the hall of the theater. Yesterday, we sat outside, but the weather was nice.

Epic Swag!!!
Close to showtime the local radio station supporting the event passed out some very nice swag.  I was thrilled to grab some stuff.  I just love the key chain and I already hung the poster in my office.  And aren't the bookmarks awesome?

Anyway, the line to get into this movie was huge by the time they started scanning our passes and marking our hands to allow us inside. There was full security on hand. After having my purse searched and having those security wands passed over me, I got to grab a great seat inside the theater. The theater was almost full when I hurried out to the ladies room and was shocked to see that there was still a massive line waiting/hoping to get into the theater. I have a feeling this movie might be really big if so many people showed up for the screening.

So what did I think about the film? First off, I haven't read the books. The first one is on my TO READ shelves, but I have yet to curl up with it yet.  Therefore, my viewing experience was based entirely on what I saw on the screen.

First off, this movie is beautiful to look at. I really captures the Southern Gothic feel that I was hoping it would aim for. The South is absolutely beautiful and the filmmaker captured it wonderfully.  I seriously loved the whole "experience" of the movie.

Alden Ehrenreich plays Ethan, our narrator and lead protagonist. He's not mind-meltingly handsome or even suave, but he's very likable in the role. His big grin and goofy persona were quite refreshing. I enjoyed Ethan's view on life and his passion for what he felt was right.  Also, his love of books and his dreams of a better life were something any person who grew up in a small town immediately can connect with.  I thought the actor did a great job in the role, but I never could buy him as a teenager. He just LOOKED too much like someone in their early twenties. I looked up his actual age and he's 23. I had to struggle a little to get past his appearance, but the actor was very good in the role.

Alice Anglert plays Lena and she was so great in the role. She has a classically beautiful face, and I often thought she looked like she could have stepped out of a painting. Lena is not exactly a likable character. She's abrasive, defensive, and prone to angry outbursts, but once Ethan is in her life she becomes much more likable as his presence softens her fears about her future. They had a wonderful chemistry together.

Their relationship felt very real and much more organic than the Twilight romance. Ethan isn't all that blown away by Lena being a Caster. He takes it as a part of her, and obviously loves her for who she is. They have a love of books that bonds them together and a quirky sense of humor that they share. I loved seeing them evolve as a couple and my heart was fully invested in them. The sacrifices they are both willing to make were heart-wrenchingly beautiful.

Also in the cast is the always awesome Jeremy Irons and Emma Thompson. They're both great in their roles and I loved their interactions. Emma Thompson was just a little too scary as the religious zealot in town, Mrs. Lincoln, and Jeremy plays the reformed Caster, Macon.

I loved the complexity of Macon and I look forward to reading the book because I definitely want to know more about him. Maybe it's just because Jeremy Irons is one of the hottest older men of all time, but I was completely intrigued with his character.

As for Emma Thompson, is there nothing she can't do? She puts on an amazing performance in this movie. I don't want to spoil anything, but there were a few times where I couldn't decide at which point in the story she was actually scarier.  I just adore her ability to play just about any character under the sun. Honestly, her moments of religious zealotry were terrifyingly familiar.

I do think some people will be offended by the way religious people are portrayed in the movie, but the villains are all over the top. There is one lovely scene that takes place in a church where we see Ethan and Amma, his mother's best friend and his surrogate caretaker, taking comfort in a sermon. I rather liked that touch.

Speaking of Amma, Viola Davis is such a beautiful, charismatic, and wonderful actress. I loved her in this movie and I really wish she had been in it more. She felt like an under-utilized character, but Viola did a lot with what little she had.

If there is a sequel, I really hope she's in it a lot more. She was fabulous.

As for the "bad Caster" played by Emily Blunt, I can't say much about her except she had some really interesting clothes in the movie and cool contacts. There was one epic scene with her where she squares off against Lena, but otherwise her presence in the film was rather light.  She did have one important plot point in the story, but that could have been shucked off onto another character really easily. I'm not really sure what her character was in the story for other than to show us that Casters can go evil.

I really did enjoy seeing Lena struggle between the forces of Light and Darkness and the fear she has to live with. I also enjoyed her strength of character and her flaws. The love affair she has with Ethan was beautifully executed and I was very invested in it. At one point of the movie, my heart broke for both of them. (And Viola Davis DID make me cry when she realizes the sacrifice Lena has made. Wow. Her expression.)

This is an enjoyable film. It's not the best film ever. It doesn't rank up there with The Hunger Games, but it is decidedly better than Twilight. I loved the Southern Gothic atmosphere and the new take on witches (casters). I also liked the humor that was infused into the story along with the pathos. It's worth the time to catch this movie in the theater.

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