Beautiful Creatures is passably entertaining, but like many movies geared toward tweens and teens, it smacks of sexism and reinforces the troubling myth pushed at young girls that true love strikes before the SATs.
Adapted from the best-selling first book of Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl's Caster Chronicles series, Beautiful Creatures tells the story of Lena Duchannes (Alice Englert), a beautiful orphan about to turn 16. But unlike most teenagers in the small Christian town of Gatlin, Lena is no ordinary high-school junior; she's a supernatural caster—a witch. This basically means that on her birthday, her "true nature" will decide whether she is good, evil, or worse than evil: a man-eating succubus. Lena's guardian uncle, the good caster Macon Ravenwood (Jeremy Irons), is rooting for Lena to be good (oddly, male casters aren't chained to their fate—they get to choose whether to be good or evil), while her mother—who's a ghost?—and slutty cousin tempt her to the dark side. Complicating matters, Lena has just met her one true love, Ethan Wate (Alden Ehrenreich), but she's under the spell of a Civil War love curse, so her uncle forbids her from seeing him.
If I'm doing a bad job of summarizing the plot, it's because the plot is all over the place. Compounding the suckiness are CGI effects and costumes reminiscent of the cut-rate WB network and an off-putting soundtrack. (And if you're sensitive to racism, the character of Amma the voodoo librarian will make you cringe.)
That said, Beautiful Creatures is infinitely more watchable than any of the toothy teenage turds shit out by Stephenie Meyer, mostly thanks to a few glimmering moments of sharp dialogue and the on-screen charisma of Ehrenreich. For instance, after a clingy Christian mom demands a good-bye kiss from her son, Ehrenreich deadpans, "So is your mom a good kisser or what?" Still, these moments are not enough to save the movie, or even worth stomaching another plot that revolves around teenage codependency and the inherent evilness of women.