Beautiful Creatures – Richard LaGravenese and the love of a good script. (film reviews)

Richard LaGravenese seems to be an odd choice as the director for the first of the series post-Twilight fantasy series Beautiful Creatures, mostly because he’s a screen writer and not a director. Yet, in a way this odd twist has worked out well for the film because it has a fantastic script based on the novel written by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl and adapted by LaGravenese himself. In many ways this is a writers film – or at least a screen writers film. I found the most pleasure I took away with me came from the witty and wily word play, one liners, and worded-based running themes.  Not to mention a passionate love of libraries, which works for me also, and I suspect, many parents who would be shelling out the dosh for this preteen, tween, early-teen set of books.

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As far as films go its another of these nicely-but-not-perfectly made teen romance / paranormal series. Twilight is the obvious precursor, but I do remember being thrilled the Twilight film was made so well  – no matter how many people carry on about how bad it is today. It was refreshing to see a series of “girly” romance books being treated properly on the screen – real cast, real crew;  if you cast your mind back, teen romance series for girls were not treated this well on the big screen before hand. On TV maybe (maybe) but not on the big screen. Beautiful Creatures is a little more sci-fi and the connection to the Tim Burton influence that has been referenced repeatedly is warranted, but love remains the primary theme along side that familiar plot line of the mortal working out how to live with the supernatural. There are some nice twists: The girl is the powerful supernatural one rather than the boy as in Twilight or equal as in The Hunger Games; Family is the battle field for good versus evil; Libraries still hold all the worlds important information, even in the age of iPhones.  And there are some old cliches: Church / ignorance v’s Witches / enlightenment; spooky house looks like its been decorated by Ms Havisham on the outside, stunning and beautiful on the inside; pretty mean popular school girl v’s emoh kind unpopular schoolgirl – well you get my drift.

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There are some plot holes, and I’m not sure if they come from the book or the film.  The relationship between Macon Ravenwood (fabulous name much better played by Jeremy Irons than the reviews are saying – his eyes twinkle, its lovely) and Ethan Wait’s mother is patchy and odd and it never really makes sense that Macon rejects the boy so strongly and then effectively gives him everything. However plot holes are off-set by lovely cultural tie-in’s to the geographical area (something Twlight and The Hunger Games missed) via civil war reenactments and a town that lives by its traditions – even if it is an age-old battle with witches.  I guess you have to be a die-hard fan to understand what’s going on there, but as I said above the witty word play and memorable lines (“people in this town are one of two things: too dumb to leave or too stuck to move”) said in that gorgeous southern American drawl are apparent from the very start of the film, and I have a memory of being quite struck – that large wide-eyed smile on my face – five minutes into the film.

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LaGravenese recently adapted Like Water For Elephants and chronicles of Narnia, and in the past he is credited with films like The Horse Whisperer, The Mirror has two faces and was nominated for a writing Oscar for The Fisher King.  He likes love and he likes fantasy.  I’m not sure that he likes to direct, nor am I sure if he is signed up for Book two of this series, Beautiful Darkness, but I guess we shall see. For my part, I am enjoying this new seriousness applied to film adaptations of teen girly love stories and the “chick” in me is enjoying seeing them on the big screen. Beautiful Creatures is receiving the same treatment Twilight did from critics, and predictably is enjoyed far more by the public. It cost sixty million to make (!) and has so far made seventeen million back. I for one, am hoping the return lives up to its investment and that the rest of the series will be made soon.

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And if Richard LaGravenese doesn’t direct, I do hope he adapts.  🙂

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