Beautiful Creatures is the supernatural romance film adaptation of the novel of the same name, the first book of the best selling Beautiful Creatures book series (also known as The Caster Chronicles series).
With Alcon Entertainment having bought the film rights to make the series into a film franchise in 2009, and Richard LaGravanese in charge of the writing and the directing part of the movie, production began on April 15, 2012. The movie had been originally slated for a February 1, 2013 release date, but due to conflicts with several other movie release dates, it has been pushed back to an official February 14, 2013 theatrical release. On September 19, 2012 the official teaser trailer was released along with the teaser movie poster.
The film opens in Gatlin, South Carolina, where Ethan Wate awakes from a recurring dream of a girl he doesn't know yet cannot stop thinking about. Ethan narrates about how he enjoys reading banned books, despairs his small town existence and dreams of leaving for college.
Arriving for his first day of junior high, Ethan takes notice of newcomer Lena Duchannes, about whom the other students spread gossip regarding her reclusive uncle, Macon Ravenwood and her family being devil worshippers. Overhearing these whispers, Lena tenses and the windows of the classroom shatter all at once, amplifying the fears and suspicions of the class and the townspeople at large that she is a witch.
On a drive home, Ethan nearly runs over Lena, whose car has broken down. He gives her a ride home and the two bond over their shared love of poetry and having both lost their mothers. Ethan drops Lena off but later finds a locket and returns to the mansion to give it to her as a present. The touch of the locket triggers a shared flashback to the Civil War, after which he awakens at his home. Macon disapproves of their growing romance and conspires with Ethan's nanny, Amma, to keep the two separated but Ethan persists and Lena confesses that she and her family are "casters", capable of performing a variety of magical spells such as changing the weather and illusion casting. On her 16th birthday, Lena's true nature will steer her towards either the Light or the Dark and Lena fears being consumed by evil and hurting those she loves. Ethan insists she is responsible for her own choices and that regardless of her insecurities she is a good person.
Matters are complicated by the arrival of two immensely powerful Dark Casters who aim to push Lena to the dark: Ridley, Lena's provocative cousin/childhood friend and Sarafine, Lena's mother, who has possessed Mrs. Lincoln, and foresees Lena becoming a far more powerful caster than her. Furthermore, Lena and Ethan use the locket to re-experience the flashback in its entirety: their ancestors, caster Genevieve Duchannes and the mortal Ethan Carter Wate were in love. Ethan was shot in battle and Genevieve revived him using a forbidden spell that caused her to go dark and curse the women of the Duchannes family line. They consult with Amma, who is in fact a seer/keeper with a secret collection of caster books beneath the town library. The most ancient of these tomes, the Book of Moons, reveals the secret to undoing the curse; one of Lena's loved ones has to die. Unwilling to take Ethan's life, Lena instead erases his memories of their time together.
Ridley seduces and brainwashes Ethan's best friend Link and gives him a real bullet to use in an upcoming Civil War reenactment of the Battle of Honey Hill taking place on Lena's birthday. During the reenactment, Link meets Ethan at a remote spot and the two agree to "kill" each other so they can ditch the reenactment. While at the ceremony for her 16th birthday, Lena feels the shock of the curse being broken and runs off to Ethan, clutching his dying body as Ridley and Sarafine egg her on to give in to her grief and accept the dark willingly. Lena lashes out in anger, sending lightning strikes through the crowd of Confederate soldiers until Ethan transforms into Macon, having previously disguised himself as Ethan to become the sacrifice needed to break the curse. His dying words are for Lena to "Claim yourself" and she causes the moon to disappear, stopping it from claiming her for the dark, an act never happening in Caster history. Lena allows Ridley to flee and pulls Sarafine from Mrs. Lincoln's body and uses a binding spell to seal Sarafine for good.
Six months later, a still-amnesiac Ethan stops by the library before leaving for a college campus tour and apologizes to Lena for not having gotten to know her during their time in Gaitlin. She gives him a book she is reading that he clearly likes as a "getting out of town present" (possibly referencing to his earlier gift to her as a "moving into town" present) and he leaves for the tour as a saddened Lena watches him. Just as Link drives past the town line, Ethan suddenly recalls their memories and their time together. He forces Link to abruptly park on the side of the road and gets out of the car to yell out Lena's name. From way off in the library, Lena hears his voice and looks up. The screen then cuts to black as the credit music begins to play.
- Alden Ehrenreich as Ethan Wate
- Alice Englert as Lena Duchannes
- Viola Davis as Amma Treadeau
- Emmy Rossum as Ridley Duchannes
- Emma Thompson as Mrs. Lincoln/Sarafine Duchannes
- Thomas Mann as Wesley "Link" Lincoln
- Jeremy Irons as Macon Ravenwood
- Margo Martindale as Delphine Duchannes
- Eileen Atkins as Emmaline Duchannes
- Zoey Deutch as Emily Asher
- Tiffany Boone as Savannah Snow
- Rachel Brosnahan as Genevieve Katherine Duchannes
- Kyle Gallner as Larkin Kent
- Sam Gilroy as Ethan Carter Wate
- Pruitt Taylor Vince as Mr. Lee
- Robin Skye as Mrs. Hester
- Randy Redd as Reverend Stephens
- J.D Evermore as Mitchell Wate (scenes cut)
- Andrea Frankle as Lila Wate (scenes cut)
- Camille Balsamo as Katherine Duchannes (scenes cut)
- Lindsay Clift as Althea Duchannes (scenes cut)
- Justine Wachsberger as Justine Duchannes (scenes cut)
- Teri Wyble as Charlotte Duchannes (scenes cut)
- Jackie Tuttle as Isabel Duchannes (scenes cut)
- Lucy Faust as as Juliette Duchannes (scenes cut)
Note: Marian Ashcroft's character has been cut from the film and has, instead, been combined with Amma's character in order to create one "elegant" character as confirmed by the director of the film.
Warner Bros. had acquired the rights of Beautiful Creatures in 2009, but the project had been put on hold for years with little action being done to create a movie. However, things began to quickly speed up when it was announced in early 2012 that the director of the movie was chosen to be Richard LaGravenese along with Erwin Soff producing the film.
Production for the movie began in April 2012 with filming, being confirmed by Kami Garcia herself, to be in New Orleans and with a theatrical release date for the movie on February 1, 2013; however due to conflicts with other movie release dates, it had been set back to February 14, 2013. Filming and shooting had begun on April 16, 2012. In early May, the first official picture of Ethan and Lena had been released along with one other photo of a crowd of extras preparing to shoot a scene from the novel. Later on May, 9 2012 an official On the Set/Behind The Scenes video was publically released containing some scenes from the novel being filmed and also several interviews with some of the cast members.
Casting had begun in early 2012 some months before production and filming was set to begin. In late February, it was first announced that Viola Davis (The Help) had received the role of Ethan's nanny, caregiver and Seer Amma. Many fans had answered positively to this. It was later also announced and confirmed that Jack O'Connell (Skins) and Alice Englert had been given the lead roles of the movie, high school love interests of the other, Ethan and Lena. However, Jack O'Connell was forced to back out of the project due to scheduling conflicts. It was later announced that Alden Ehrenreich had officially been given the role and was set to portray Ethan, replacing O'Connell.
It was soon later confirmed on March 2, 2012 that Emmy Rossum (Shameless, Poseidon, The Day after Tomorrow) will be playing Lena's childhood cousin and ex-best friend Ridley. Four days later on March 6, 2012 it was announced that Thomas Mann (Project X) will play Ethan's childhood best friend and on-again off-again boyfriend/love interest of Ridley, Link. Later on on March 13, 2012 it was said and confirmed that Jeremy Irons will be portraying Lena's uncle, Macon. Sometime after this, it was told that Kyle Galler was set to play Lena's cousin, Larkin. After this, Emma Thompson was tied to the project as both Lena's mother, Sarafine, and Mrs. Lincoln. Following this, later information on the cast was given out that Margo Martindale was set to play Aunt Del, Zoey Deutch as "mean girl" Emily Asher and Rachel Brosnahan as Lena's ancestor Genevieve Duchannes family. Other cast members can be seen listed on the official IMDB page of the Beautiful Creatures movie.
Production for the movie is set to begin in April 2012 with filming, being confirmed by Kami Garcia herself, to be in New Orleans and also Louisiana. Filming began in May 2012 and went into late June. Cast members posted pictures of the set, location around the set and of the cast members' trailers online, such as Facebook, as teasers to the fans. Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl were invited to visit the set while filming was going on and a contest was held so that a few lucky fans of the book series would get to visit the set and meet the cast and authors and watch the movie being filmed. Pictures of the winners meeting the authors and cast were also taken and put online on Garcia's and Stohl's official Facebook pages as was them being interviewed and what they thought of the movie so far after seeing it filmed. Much of the proposed filming locations was in and around New Orleans. Filming has finished as confirmed by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl on June 27 2012.
- Main article: Beautiful Creatures: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Interview with Alice Englert and Alden Ehrenreich about Beautiful Creatures pt 1
Interview with Emmy Rossum about Beautiful Creatures pt 1
Interview with Emmy Rossum about Beautiful Creatures pt 2
The film has received mixed reviews from critics; it has a 45% positive rating on the film critics aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, based on 156 reviews, with the consensus stating: "Charming romantic leads and esteemed supporting cast aside, Beautiful Creatures is a plodding YA novel adaptation that feels watered down for the Twilight set".
On Metacritic, the film received a "metascore" of 51% (out of 38 reviews), indicating a mixed or average consensus.Owen Gleiberman, in Entertainment Weekly, gave the film a B-, writing, "Beautiful Creatures is arriving in a market-place full of Twilight junkies still eager for their supernatural teen-romantic fix, and the film's concept couldn't be clearer: It's Twilight with the sexes reversed. This time it's the boy who's the mortal: moody, bookish Ethan, the outsider in his sleepy small town." Gleiberman added that though the film "is lushly pictorial and not-too-badly acted...[but] the audience, like Ethan, spends way too much time waiting around for Lena to learn whether she's a good girl or a bad girl."
The film review website ScreenRant called the film "a choppy and melodramatic experience with very little payoff beyond the central love story. Worse yet, overlooking the usual on-the-nose dialogue about eternal love and sacrifice, this tale of star-crossed sweethearts is especially cheesy and unconvincing – even when compared to similarly heavy-handed young adult novel-turned-movies. Fans of the supernatural romance sub-genre will get about what they expect..."
David Denby of The New Yorker wrote that the movie "is a classic example of the confusions and the outright blunders that can overtake talented people who commit themselves to a concept driven purely by the movie marketplace... Alas, the satirical energy and Ethan's bright talk dissipate after a while." He praises a scene from the Civil War flashback which "appears as Ethan and Lena are watching a movie in a local theatre, but only they can see it" as "an interesting idea that I wish LaGravenese had pursued as a parallel narrative. This kind of movie, however, demands not interesting ideas but whooshing spectacle and madly redundant climaxes and a soundtrack filled with thuds and a shouting female chorus."
According to fans of the series, it has received mixed reviews. Some fans have expressed that they loved the film and highly favored the movie and the way it was layed out. While, on the other hand, others have outright declared their hatred of the movie, calling out all of the differences between the film adaptation and the novel.
Differences between novel and film
- In the novel, Lena's hair is described as being so dark it is jet black as well as the fact that it is very curly. This eventually even became her trade mark. However, Lena's hair in the movie appears to be light brown instead of black and wavy instead of curly.
- In the film, Lena appears to dress in mostly beige and in a plain old fashioned style. In the novels, Lena is described as dressing in a Goth-like manner, known for constantly having black nail polish on and wearing dark and almost Goth-like clothes.
- In the series, Savannah is described as being white whereas in the movie she is African American.
- In the film, Ridley is seen having red cropped hair (though in released stills she is shown to eventually have blonde hair) most of the time and because of her status as a Siren, has the ability to change appearance. In the books, this never happened and she always had long, blonde hair with pink colored highlights.
- Marian Ashcroft's character has been completely cut from the film franchise at the director's choice. Instead, her character has been combined with Amma to create one "elegant" character.
- Emmy Rossum revealed that Ridley will not be seen so much with a lollipop, her character's main trade mark in the series, but rather reguarly eating a large variety of sweets. Although, she assured fans that the lollipop will be shown in at least a few scenes with Ridley.
- Several characters are cut from the film such as: The Sisters, Thelma, Fatty, Reece, Ryan, and Mitchell Wate. (Though Mitchell is mentioned throughout the film.)
- In the novel, Ethan dies when he is murdered by Sarafine after she fatally stabs him. Lena and Amma then resurrect him by making a deal with The Book of Moons by trading his life with someone else's. This, therefore, setting up the major plot line for his needed sacrifice (as well as his severed soul which plays a large role) in Beautiful Chaos. However, in the film his death and murder never happen.
- Link and Ridley's relationship is glossed over in the film, whereas in the book there is much more scenes and something of a more progessive rate to their relationship and indications of her growing true feelings for Link.
- Lena drives a pale yellow-white Mercedes Benz instead of Macon Ravenwood's signature black hearse she often drives in the book. In Beautiful Darkness, after Macon died, Lena started driving her cousin Larkin's Fastback. But when Macon comes back to life she resumes driving the hearse.
- In the novel, Macon is rather happy that Lena made a friend on her first day of school due to her never having friends prior to Gatlin, and is alright with Ethan until he shows him the locket he found on his land. In the movie, Macon is totally against Lena forming any possible friendships and, after predicting Ethan's rather grim future, drives Ethan out of his house and bans him from his manor.
- In the book Macon is an Incubus, but in the movie Lena says he is a Dark Caster.
- Genevieve Duchannes is so overcome with sadness for her mortal lover, Ethan Carter Wate's death that she brings him back to life with a forbidden spell, only to switch over to the dark side as a result. Now evil, she then kills Ethan again and then goes on to brutally attack the soldiers in line. However, in the book, Genevieve becomes dark, but is not evil. Also, Ethan Carter Wate rises for 10 seconds from the cast, but falls dead again on his own without Genevieve killing anyone.
- Ethan and Lena's special Kelting connection is omitted from the film.
- Ethan and Lena's main relationship problem in the novel is their physical/sexual intimacy, not being able to kiss without Ethan suffering physical repercussions. In the film, it appears that there is no such problem between them with it even almost implying that Ethan and Lena make love during a scene in the movie.
- Link discovers the Caster world at the end of the novel when he and Ethan become involved in the final showdown between Lena and her mother, Sarafine. In the movie version, both Link and Ethan are knocked unconscious before Lena's confrontation with her mother.
- In the film, Lena discovers someone she loves has to die in order to break her family curse, a detail that isn’t part of the book.
- Larkin is revealed to be Dark in the book, only pretending to be Light. In the movie, this event never happens. It is possible it was cut out on account of the Curse being re-invented in the film so that only the women from the Duchannes family would have no choice in their Claiming.
- Lena casts a spell and wipes out Ethan’s memory of her so he won’t possibly die in order to break her family curse (only to have him regain his memories at the very end of the film). This never happens in the novel.
- In the novel, Lena had a choice in whether she wanted to go Light or Dark unlike the rest of her family. In the movie, she didn't have a choice and in order to break the curse someone she loved had to die.
- Ridley plays a major role in attempting to kill Ethan in the film than she did in the book. In the film, she seduces Link into accidentally shooting him with a real bullet instead of a blank during the town’s annual Civil War reenactment. However, Link instead kills Macon who was disguised as Ethan. In the book, Ethan actually misses most of the reenactment and neither of these events ever happened.
- In the novel Light Casters' eyes are fluorescent, glowing green eyes, but in the movie this does not happen.
- The Book of Moons shows up more in the novel than the movie. If Casters use the forbidden cast: “To Bind Death to Life”, they’re forced to do a trade. Lena uses the same incantation Genevieve used to bring Ethan back to life. However, the trade she faces is Macon’s life for Ethan's. In the film, Macon's death is completely changed. Macon uses his shape-shifter powers to trick everyone into believing he is Ethan during the Civil War reenactment, and is the one who gets shot by Link, then dies for the sake of breaking the curse and Lena being able to Claim herself.
- The ending of the movie is possibly the biggest difference from the novel. With his memory of Lena gone and free of any ties to Gatlin, Ethan is more than happy in the final moments of the film (which takes place six months after her 16th birthday). He prepares to leave for a college campus tour to New York and stops by the library just before he leaves to say goodbye to Amma. He runs into Lena there, which sparks his sudden lost memories of her, and the film ends with him screaming out her name just as he and Link pass the county line. In the book, the sequel is completely set up in an entirely different way- taking place directly after Lena's 16th birthday (instead of half a year) after she accidentally caused Macon's death and is more than guilt ridden and broken, therefore setting up the events for Beautiful Darkness.
- Emily doesn't seem to hate Ethan in the film, even saying she missed him over the summer. In the book, they broke up after Ethan spilled punch on Emily's hard-worked prom hair.