Beautiful Creatures (Blu-ray Review)

beautiful creatures bluA supernatural love story set in the South, Beautiful Creatures tells the tale of two star-crossed lovers: Ethan (Alden Ehrenreich), a young man longing to escape his small town, and Lena (Alice Englert), a mysterious new girl.  Together, they uncover dark secrets about their respective families, their history and their town.  Oscar nominee Richard LaGravenese (“The Fisher King,” “P.S. I Love You”) directs from his adaptation of the first novel in the best-selling series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.  The film stars Alden Ehrenreich (“Tetro”), Alice Englert,(“Ginger & Rosa”) Academy Award winner Jeremy Irons (“Reversal of Fortune”) Oscar nominee Viola Davis (“The Help,” “Doubt”), Emmy Rossum (TV’s “Shameless”), Thomas Mann (“Project X”) and Academy Award winner Emma Thompson (“Howard’s End,” “Sense and Sensibility”).  Rounding out the cast are Eileen Atkins, Margo Martindale, Zoey Deutch, Tiffany Boone, Rachel Brosnahan, Kyle Gallner, Pruitt Taylor Vince and Sam Gilroy.

Beautiful-Creatures-2013-Stills-alice-englert-32372014-1800-1198 Film  

Beautiful Creatures takes place in the southern town of Gatlin.  It is said that the only two types of people in Gatlin are the ones too stupid to leave and the ones to stuck to move.  Ethan (Alden Ehrenrich) has lost his mother to a car accident and his father is uninvolved in his daily life.  Things never seen to change much in Gatlin, but Ethan is clear from the beginning that he wants to get out.  He is applying to colleges everywhere that’s far away from Gatlin. But one day, something different comes to Gatlin.  That something different is a young girl named Lena (Alice Englert).

Lena is the niece of the town’s resident rich but creepy old guy (Jeremy Irons) who people know to fear but can’t put their finger on why.  It turns out that Lena and her family are all Casters, a term preferable to witch. Every Caster must be claimed for the light or the dark.  Although Lena’s uncle is a dark Caster, he has chosen the light and is trying to help his niece.  Her sixteenth birthday approaches and that is the time at which female Casters are claimed for one side or the other.  Unfortunately for females, their true nature comes out and they have no choice in the matter.  If they go dark, they stay dark.

With just months until her sixteenth birthday, Lena finds an intense connection with Ethan.  Eventually it is revealed that they have been bound to each other since the days of the Civil War.  Lena’s ancestor used a forbidden spell to save a loved one inadvertently cursing herself and her descendants.  As Lena desperately wants to remain in the light, she has to make the tough choice to decide who and what she will give up to break her family curse.  Right off the bat, it strikes me that Beautiful Creatures would make a really good read.  The film has a very rich, unique texture and I can only imagine what elements the director could not translate to the screen.  The special effects, specifically related to the supernatural powers make the Caster world believable.  The immortal world seamlessly interacts with the mortal realm as Ethan realizes the magic that has been all around him.

With dual roles as a bigoted southern church goer and the mother of evil, Emma Thompson is believable as both characters.  Jeremy Irons, who is on my top ten list of creepy people that are probably very nice, also adds a lot of authenticity to the story.  You’re never really sure if he’s good, evil, or a little of both.  From the beginning narration I wondered if the actor who plays Ethan was actually southern.  The accent sounded a little too thick.  Watching the special features, I realize he does not have a southern accent, but as the movie continued, the overdone accent failed to bother me.  The real life accent of the actress who played Lena did bother me.  It was a very good choice to give her a somewhat generic “American accent” as her true accent made her sound a little bit sinister.

I have a tendency to watch, and enjoy movies that were originally books that were intended for teenagers.  I never get around to reading the books, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed films such as the Harry Potter series, the Twilight Saga, and The Hunger Games, so I had similar expectations for Beautiful Creatures.  As far as the story goes, it’s not the most original idea – a young Caster that could go dark or light, but it did manage to stay interesting, for me throughout.  The film is as much about the magic as it is the love story between two teenagers and I was compelled to find out how it ends.  The ending is not simple, and it is not wrapped up in a nice little bow.  I like stories that don’t end with all the answers.  Clearly, the filmmakers left it open for the possibility of more films – but even if this is the only film made, I appreciate a little ambiguity.



Beautiful Creatures is presented on blu ray in 1080p high definition with a 16×9 2.4:1 ratio. The film is visually rich and nearly always interesting to look at. There are countless special effects related to the environment, the weather, and the characters. The detail on the various costumes is immense and palpable. It feels as though the color palette is very specifically chosen and the interior and exterior shots all look good.


Beautiful Creatures offers more of a chance for your surround sound to shine than other teenage supernatural flicks in recent memory. The whirling wind, the growing vines, and the other Caster fabrications translate well in this DTS-HD Master Audio English 5.1 soundtrack. Dialogue is not overwhelmed by the supernatural effects and conversely volume does not need to be adjusted down for yelling and angry spell casting. The blu ray also contains either Dolby Digital 5.1 French (dubbed in Quebec) or 5.1 Spanish tracks with subtitles in English SDH, French or Spanish.


Special Features  

I applaud the fact that the Blu-ray cover explains each special feature.  You don’t always know what a feature is about before you watch it and if you were looking for a specific topic, this would really help you out.  The most interesting part of the features for me was hearing the actor who plays Ethan speak without the southern accent used in the film, and the actress who plays Lena with her native British (I think) accent.  As you play each behind the scenes featurette, they start to get old.  They are the kind of things that would make you want to watch the film if you hadn’t planned to but don’t really add much to the viewing experience once you’ve seen the film.

  • Behind the Scenes: Book to Screen – Learn how the filmmakers adapted this wildly popular book series into a film. Authors, filmmakers, and cast discuss what drew them to the project and what changes were necessary when bringing the book to life.
  • Behind the Scenes: The Casters – Find out who is Light and Dark, who has control over the elements and who has the power of manipulation. A brief discussion of the immortals, without any substantial additions to the information learned from the film.
  • Behind the Scenes: Between Two Worlds – See why the sleepy town of Gatlin is the perfect backdrop for this supernatural love story. This feature didn’t really explain much, if you ask me.
  • Behind the Scenes: Forbidden Romance – Explore Lena and Ethan’s romance and how outside forces threaten to separate them. Again, no information not found in the film, just a few minutes focused on the main character’s relationship.
  • Behind the Scenes: Alternate Worlds – Director Richard LaGravenese and the VFX team show how the Casters live along side humans but in their own worlds. The visual effects are one of the more interesting topics and this one is worth exploring.
  • Behind the Scenes: Beautiful Creatures:Designing the Costumes – Costume designer Jeffrey Kurland and the cast explain how wardrobe influenced the tone of the film. Another feature worth watching, as the wardrobe is visually very complex and interesting.
  • Deleted Scenes – Ridley Entices Link, Ethan Calls on Emily, Caster Party, Movie Theater – It’s unique to see deleted scenes that aren’t actually just a scene from the movie with a few seconds chopped off.  These are truly deleted scenes that you don’t see in the movie and are rather interesting as far as the additional information they provide.
  • Film Trailers – Two trailers plus the New York Comic Con Trailer and a Pedigree TV spot.
  • ICONS by Margaret Stohl – A book trailer – Aside from the fact that “your heart beats only with their permission” this trailer doesn’t provide much detail for the book but it looks creepy.


Final Thoughts  

Beautiful Creatures was more enjoyable than I expected in many ways.  I enjoyed the fact that it was as much as simple love story between two young people as it was about supernatural powers.  The film has quite a cast, and I couldn’t believe how much Emmy Rossum has grown up since seeing her in The Day After Tomorrow.  Male fans of Emmy Rossum will want to be sure to watch the deleted scenes to catch a glimpse of her in black lingerie.  The special features get a little repetitive, but it’s good to see a lot of them. So many blu rays seems to be skimping on the features these days, I’m glad to see Warner Bros. putting in the effort – even if they did break down one long behind the scenes feature into many featurettes.

I will watch the film again, but this isn’t one of those films that I’ll re-watch in the coming weeks (I do back to back viewings often).  I do however feel like a little distance between the first and second time viewings will increase my enjoyment overall.  For a film I wasn’t sure I wanted to see, I was pleasantly surprised and it’s a movie that I would recommend.  As always, I suggest viewing with an open mind and without unreasonably high expectations.  I’m curious to find out how fans of the books feel about the movie and how true to the source it was.  In general books are rarely outdone by movies, so for that reason I’m glad I started with the film.

 You can click on the link below to order this film today!

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