Beautiful Creatures

Beautiful Creatures

Launching a new take on the box office-saturated “Paranormal Teen Romance” genre in early 2013 was perhaps not a good idea. Twilight fans were still reeling from the end of their beloved franchise, The Hunger Games Mockingjays were busy gearing up to share what had become a hugely successful franchise, Divergent devotees were busy dream-casting, and Percy Jackson fans (fan?) were far too consumed with celebrating that their (his or her?) series was not dead. Even with strong shelf sales, Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl’s best-selling “Caster Chronicles” series didn’t seem poised to be the kind of cinematic juggernaut that could compete with Twilight and The Hunger Games and whatever would come next – it simply didn’t have the heat to push it over the top – which is a damn shame, because the duo’s Gothic romance spawned one hell of an underrated feature in Richard LaGravenese’s Beautiful Creatures. The film was released last Valentine’s Day (Happy Birthday, Beautiful Creatures!), and while the Alice Englert- and Alden Ehrenreich-starring film lovingly brought Garcia and Stohl’s vision to the big screen with some well-planned tweaks, the film was still little seen and even less appreciated. The film made a relatively scant  $19.4M at the U.S. box office, a take that was eventually bolstered by its worldwide dollars ($40.6M). While that was enough to give the film a final gross of $60M, neatly matching its reported budget of, yup, $60M, that doesn’t mean that it really broke even (most reported budgets don’t include […]

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2013: The YA Invasion Continues

If you hadn’t heard, 2013 is the year that a small indie production called The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, starring little-known commercial actress Jennifer Lawrence (am I saying that right?) stormed into theaters. In truth, the massive-scale production, bolstered by a months-long marketing campaign (step into a Subway sometime for a District 12 themed sandwich, because nothing screams “we’re actually starving” like footlongs), has earned over $600M worldwide to date, and is expected to reach $800M by the end of its theatrical run. This is also the year that everyone and their producer attempted to find the next Hunger Games franchise and fell completely, utterly flat. Line ‘em up: The Host, Beautiful Creatures, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, Percy Jackson: The Sea of Monsters and Ender’s Game all tried their hand at making the jump from page to screen, but nothing achieved anything near what Catching Fire created, both in terms of financial success and creative content.

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2013review_scifi

This year promised a number of great original science fiction movies from Hollywood, and then it turned out most of them weren’t even good let alone great — the sort that left us with way too many unanswered questions regarding their plot holes. Meanwhile, in the fantasy genre, we continued to see the studios churning out one YA adaptation after another in the hopes of it being the next Hunger Games (or still the next Harry Potter or Twilight or even Star Wars in the case of The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones) and ironically having no clue how to find the *magic* in the appeal of these kinds of stories. And of course there’s the ever-growing subgenre of superhero movies, which really only disappointed this year because they arrived in the wake of 2012’s The Avengers, not simply because most of the output was sequels (Iron Man 3; Thor: The Dark World; The Wolverine) that were merely okay rather than totally awesome. As I’ve noted in the past, I don’t consider Gravity to be sci-fi (even after learning that some tech in the film doesn’t exist yet), but I’ll let it be known that if I were to qualify the outer space thriller, I’d put it in the number 6 slot on account of its gripping visual storytelling and little else. As for another popular choice (one that made a few FSR staffer’s best of lists, as well as our democratically voted top 10), Pacific Rim might have made this […]

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2013review_missed (1)

The 13 movies below range from the very good to the great (while the 6.5 that follow are just mostly bad), but the one thing they all share is that they each failed to find an audience during their theatrical run for one reason or another. At least one of those reasons is you of course, but instead of berating you for failing to support the films while they were in theaters and needed your help, we’re hoping to point you in their direction now to atone for your sins. But first, a few qualifications. I’ve excluded movies that played in fewer than 75 theaters since that’s the distributor’s fault, I’m not featuring films that made over $30m, and I’m not including subtitled foreign releases which the masses avoid in general. These are only films that could have had a real chance of making a lot more money than they did, so while I wish more people saw the Jared Leto-led Mr. Nobody, I’m not surprised that it only made $3,600. Finally, I’m also sharing the wealth a bit by skipping movies that will be making our Best Films of the Year list next week. So here are 13 great movies that failed to catch on at the box office but should be sought out immediately on Blu-ray/DVD, streaming, whatever… and 6.5 relatively terrible flicks that you were right to avoid.

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discs murderer lives

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. The Murderer Lives at 21 (UK release) A murderer is stalking the streets of Paris, and his only calling card is a literal calling card bearing the name “Monsieur Durand.” The police are getting nowhere fast, but when a petty criminal offers evidence that the killer resides in a local boarding house a top detective goes in undercover to ferret the murderer out for arrest. Hilarity ensues. I’m not kidding about it being hilarious either. Director Henri-Georges Clouzot would go on to make Wages of Fear, Diabolique and others, but his debut film shows an assured hand with both the visual style and a fantastic tonal balance between the mystery and the laughs. The dialogue moves at a ’40s screwball comedy pace, and it’s loaded with wit, smarts and innuendo. Even more impressive is the film’s final shot… especially knowing it was shot during the Nazi occupation of France. [UK DVD extras: Interview]

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review beautiful creatures

Let us pause a moment to reflect on the fallen… Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004), Eragon (2006), The Golden Compass (2007), The Seeker: The Dark is Rising (2007), City of Ember (2008), The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008), Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant (2009), I Am Number Four (2011) These are all movies adapted from the first books of best-selling, young adult fiction series, and while each of them had hopes of spawning cinematic franchises along the lines of Harry Potter and Twilight… all of them failed. The high rate of disappointment hasn’t quenched Hollywood’s thirst though, and many, many more YA adventures are hitting screens in the next few years. The newest one, and happily, one of the best in some time, is the supernatural themed Beautiful Creatures. The film follows the destined but doomed romance between a mortal teen yearning to escape his backwater hometown and a girl whose upcoming sixteenth birthday will see her claimed by either the forces of light or the patrons of the dark.

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In a surprising move, Alcon Entertainment has quietly replaced the male lead in their upcoming big screen adaptation of Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl‘s “The Caster Chronicles” novel, Beautiful Creatures. British actor Jack O’Connell was first set for the role of Ethan Wate back in February (along with lead actress Alice Englert), but Deadline Burlington now reports that he’s been replaced by Alden Ehrenreich. There’s no word on just why the replacement has occurred. Ehrenreich has been on the cusp of stardom since Francis Ford Coppola cast him in 2009’s Tetro, and he’ll next be seen in the director’s Twixt. Beyond that, Ehrenreich has only lined up a few other roles, including a supporting role in Chan-wook Park’s Stoker and a starring spot in Melanie Shaw’s Running Wild, so this casting should prove to be a huge boost for his career. The film is set in small town Gatlin, South Carolina and it follows the intersecting lives of Lena (Englert) and Ethan (Ehrenreich) after the bewitching Lena moves to town. Lena is apparently in possession of some sort of supernatural power as a “Caster,” one that endangers both her and Ethan after they fall for each other and discover a family curse that involves both them and most of Gatlin.

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Sometime around 2008, when The Twilight Saga was proving to be beyond bankable, bookstores were deluged with a bevy of YA titles that all seemed hellbent on capturing the presumed magic of Stephenie Meyer’s series. As if some of their plotlines didn’t already sound interchangeable enough (magic, mythical creatures, forbidden love, weak characterization), most of their cover art looked oddly similar – which is why I can recall seeing the covers of Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl‘s Caster Chronicles series, but never happened to pick them up to take a look. It looks like I might need to change that, at least if I want to stay current with my YA-books-getting-turned-into-movies news. The first book in the five-book series is set for a big screen adaptation, thanks to Warner Bros. and Alcon Entertainment, and while Beautiful Creatures already got a major credibility bump when Viola Davis joined its cast last week, now the real news is out – who will star as the leads in yet another tale of star-crossed lovers. Jack O’Connell (“Skins,” This is England, Harry Brown) and relative newcomer Alice Englert (The Water Diary) are set to play Ethan Wate and Lena Duchannes, respectively. Beautiful Creatures is set in the small town of Gatlin, South Carolina and follows the fortunes of Lena and Ethan after the bewitching Lena moves to town. What I’ve gleaned from some Internet sleuthing is that Lena possesses some type of supernatural power (the fan site CasterGirls tells us that a caster is […]

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published: 12.19.2014
A-
published: 12.18.2014
C-
published: 12.17.2014
B+
published: 12.15.2014
B


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