Plot: What’s it about?
I’m hard-pressed to find a recent film that doesn’t draw inspiration from something superhero based or that doesn’t involve vampires or witches. Ok, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch but when Beautiful Creatures arrived at my doorstep, my wife said “Oh, I heard that’s supposed to be good, it’s about vampires or something. Like Twilight.” I had no idea that eyes could roll back as much as mine did after hearing that, but everything’s fine now. Having viewed the film, I can set the record straight and say that the film is not about vampires, but, as I mentioned before, witches. Still, I suppose there is something about the supernatural that draws us in and with Emily Rossum dancing around in a low cut black lace top – it couldn’t be all bad, right?
Beautiful Creatures, based on the novel by Kami Garcia, tells the tale of a family of witches in the deep south (South Carolina to be exact). We meet Ethan (Alden Ehrenreich) an intellectual who prides himself in that he’s read every blacklisted book their library has to offer. Slaughterhouse Five, Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird…you name it and he’s read it. It’s part of this mundane existence that’s serves as his inspiration to leave. That is until Lena Duchannes (Alice Englert) moves into town. Lena is chastised by the other girls and thwarts Ethan’s attempts at friendship. However his persistence pays off and after meeting Lena’s “family” we see there’s much more to her than meets the eye. Lena’s a witch and upon her 16th birthday, a predestined side will be chosen for her (good or evil, obviously). The stage is set and we wait with baited breath to see how things will end up for Lena and Ethan!
Ok, yes, that was meat to be a bit tongue in cheek and truthfully I rather enjoyed the film. To me it seemed to remind me a bit of Dark Shadows and The Craft, minus the Johnny Depp factor of course. And maybe I’m a bit spoiled when it comes to films about witches and wizards as I think it begins and ends with the Harry Potter films. No doubt Warner is sad to see Mr. Potter go as he and his cohorts were a seemingly endless cash cow for the studio. Is Beautiful Creatures the answer? Simply put, no. And maybe I need to read the book, but I didn’t find too many of these creatures to be all that beautiful. Yes, Alice Englert is attractive as is Emily Rossum, but I’m hard-pressed to take a second look at Viola Davis, Emma Thompson or Jeremy Irons twice (even in their prime)! Ok, I’m in a weird mood and I’ll just end this by saying that the movie isn’t nearly as 2D as you might think, there might even be room for a sequel in there if done right. Still, I don’t think this disc will be put in my player again for several years to come.
Video: How does it look?
With a title as daunting as Beautiful Creatures, I suppose it’s in Warner’s best interest to deliver a good-looking disc, right? Thankfully we’re rewarded with just that as the 2.40:1 AVC HD image looks simply stunning and radiant. I don’t know how many of these creatures are supposed to be beautiful, but there are a few scenes in which I really enjoyed watching Emily Rossum prance across the screen. Her red hair contrasted with her pale skin is a great example of how good this picture really looks. As we might expect, detail is outstanding, we can see every grey hair in Jeremy Irons’ mane and every wrinkle in Emma Thomson’s forehead. Black levels are strong as well, given that there are several dark sequences in the film, I was impressed by how well the image stood up. It’s what you’d expect from a day and date film on Blu-ray.
Audio: How does it sound?
The DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack is engaging to say the least, though it’s not nearly as strong as I’d have thought. That’s not to say that it was bad or that I was unimpressed, I guess I just didn’t know what to fully expect. Dialogue is crisp and clear, we can hear the South Carolina accents in full force early on and as they tend to fade towards the end of the film. The front stage is extremely active throughout and the surrounds chime in with some ambiance, wind and thunder, that add some much needed depth. While not the most robust track out there, it certainly serves its purpose.
Supplements: What are the extras?
There are several featurettes which shed some light on the novel, the story, the casting and the film itself though the lack of a commentary track (or a PIP track) is a bit displeasing. Still, it’s obvious that Warner at least tried with this release so with that said we do get some deleted scenes to accompany the featurettes. We get a look at “Book to Screen” which focuses on just that, turning the book into a film. “The Casters” takes a look at the witches in the film. “Between Two Worlds” shows us Ethan and Lena’s relationship and this is continued in “Forbidden Romance.” We get a look at the costume design of the film, a trailer for the book and film as well as a DVD and UltraViolet copy of the film to boot.