Beautiful Creatures


Where is Peter Jackson when you need him?

To borrow from Steve Jobs, " can please some of the people, some of the time..."  There are apparently many who thoroughly enjoyed the book by Garcia and Stohl, and some who enjoyed the Warner Bros film.  How many do you think overlap?  Exactly.

At times, writer/director Richard LaGravenese seems to have departed from the first book of the series in almost Bourne-esque fashion.  You're no Tony Gilroy, senator.  Fortunately, this is still a fun film.  Leave your "I enjoyed the book(s)" expectations at the door (along with some of your prefrontal cortex).  As so often is the case with subject matter which has similar roots in young adult fiction, remember this is brain candy, not Shawshank.

Emma Thompson, Viola Davis, Jeremy Irons, and Dame Eileen Atkins -- while this is obviously a Twilight-trumping supernatural romance with a hint of comedy and a Whedonesque twist on the power-laden lead (and Tony "The Hatchet" Gilroy-gutting of the material) -- the supporting cast is excellent and absolutely makes this film.  However, don't expect them to have added any awards to their shelves, thanks in part to the genre.  Considering the cast the studio pulled together, is it any surprise it took two months just to break even?

There is another important element which propels this movie into the above-average young-adult-books-cum-silver-screen-trilogy: the soundtrack.  In contrast to LaGravenese's creative liberties which often betray diehards of the print series, "TheNewNo2" (namely Dhani Harrison, Jonathan Sadoff, Paul Hicks, among others) unashamedly cast near-legendary magic upon each and every cochlea.  This is what we've been missing -- ear candy.  Almost as much as Emmy Rossum's performance, at times this soundtrack is nearly to die for (see track 8).

Any plot summary would risk introducing spoilers -- and really, do we need a summary?  Don't be ridiculous.  There is one spectacular creative departure (think 'enhanced interrogation') that LaGravenese gives us, albeit to the horror of many fans of the book.  Without giving too much away, watch for the (hideously faux) snow and the subsequent scene -- perhaps the most poignant moment of the film.

The numbers.  Creatures currently holds a 46% on Rotten Tomatoes, 6.1 on IMDB, and Meta Critic puts it at 52.  Amazon has the DVD and Blu-Ray at 3.5 stars.  (The book, not surprisingly, fares far better).  The film holds zero awards and only a handful of nominations from a single source, Teen Choice.  How utterly unfortunate.

Is it so difficult for those studio behemoths to appreciate that as location is to real estate, so screenplay is to film?  Stop watering down the material, you archaic cowards!

While $20 to own the HD edition via iTunes seems a little steep, Alice Englert and Alden Ehrenreich stand upon the shoulders of giants to generate something supernatural.  (Englert also performs Needle and Thread, a bonus track on the soundtrack which plays during the heartstrings-tugging scene which, much like Shyamalan's Village monsters, we do not speak of).  In fact, it is Englert's character's bittersweet and crushing sacrifice which makes this movie ascend even further.

While this motion picture might not align with Jackson's typical blockbuster material, it is much better than the numbers suggest.

Strictly by the numbers, this is 3/5.
On Billz Movie Worthiness Scale, this qualifies for two tickets and popcorn, except it's no longer in theaters.
Bottom line: Have I seen it more than once or twice?  I plead the Fifth.

Please keep Richard LaGravenese far away from Veronica Roth's books.  The print fans deserve better.  Don't they always?

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