Beautiful Creatures owes a lot to Twilight. The book on which the film is based was published in 2009, a year after Twilight became a best-seller among tweens and your aunt. Easy-reading supernatural smut is nothing new, but their authors didn’t get handed multi-picture movie deals five years ago, so it’s hard to talk about BC without talking about how it stacks up against its sparkly predecessor. Luckily for audiences, Beautiful Creatures chooses to explore outside of the “star-crossed teens with supernatural superpowers” blueprint as often as it decides to colour inside the lines.
Consideration #1 – THE CAST
First off, the actors that make up BC’s teen cast are capable of acting like believable teens. It helps that many of the actors are actual teens, not “90210” teens. The adult cast is full of happy surprises like Jeremy Irons, Viola Davis, and Emma Thompson. Advantage: Beautiful Creatures, mostly because nobody looks embarrassed to be there.
Consideration #2 – THE LEADS
Thankfully, the plot of BC follows the male lead (Alden Ehrenreich), who manages to remain compelling and motivated, while allowing the the female lead (Alice Englert) to retain Bella Swan’s age-appropriate sullen sookiness. Advantage: Beautiful Creatures, though I retain the right to revisit this if the female lead attempts suicide in the sequel when her boyfriend skips town.
Consideration #3 – THE FANTASY ELEMENT
The supernatural aspect of BC brings in a needlessly complicated system of witchcraft and prophecies to replace Twilight‘s narratively convenient sparkly vampires. Way less fun. Advantage: Twilight.
Consideration #4 – THE SMUT FACTOR
Speaking of way less fun: superpowered immortals that wait ’til they’re married before they get down? Please. Advantage: Beautiful Creatures. On the hood of a car, no less!
Consideration #5 – THE VISUALS
A big win for BC is the styling, which brings big Southern Gothic flair to replace Twilight‘s Washington state gloom. Advantage: Beautiful Creatures, though both director’s clearly haven’t met a scene they didn’t want to tint blue.
Though BC manages to occasionally outmanoeuvre Twilight, it’s still an adaptation of a middling YA novel, and even when there are flashes of innovation, it’s still a Twilight clone. And being that it’s not as deeply flawed as Twilight, it’s just not as much fun to watch with snark in your heart.
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