Review: 'Beautiful Creatures' lacks danger and momentum

Alden Ehrenreich stars as Ethan Wate and Alice Englert stars as Lena Duchaness in "Beautiful Creatures."

Story highlights

  • "Beautiful Creatures" is like "Twilight" with the sexes reversed
  • The film is based on a young adult novel by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
  • Critic says best thing about the film is the lead actress
"Beautiful Creatures" is arriving in a marketplace 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 of Gatlin, S.C., though Alden Ehrenreich plays him more like a sensitive jock on "Glee." Lena (Alice Englert), the new girl at school, comes from a family of witches (or, as they're known here, Casters), and on the day she turns 16 she'll be ''claimed,'' either by the light side or (more likely, due to a family curse) the dark side.
Adapted from the popular YA novel by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, "Beautiful Creatures" is lushly pictorial and not-too-badly acted. The best thing in the movie is Englert, who has a fresh, unretouched, Jane Austen-gone-goth allure. (She is also Jane Campion's daughter.)
Jeremy Irons, as Lena's smoking-jacketed rotter-aristocrat uncle, and Emma Thompson, as her floridly angry mother, are like blithe spirits out of a Dark Shadows sequel you want to see. But "Beautiful Creatures," more than the "Twilight" films, lacks danger and momentum. 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. Grade: B-