Welcome to a new semi-regular feature here at So Many Books, So Little Time! every few weeks I’m going to review a movie that has been adapted from a novel, usually a YA novel, but there’s bound to be some crossovers! Some will be films that have just been released and others will be long-time favourites of mine. I’m looking forward to hearing how you think these movies live up the books!
Adapted from Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
ALDEN EHRENREICH ~ Ethan Wate
ALICE ENGLERT ~ Lena Duchannes
JEREMY IRONS ~ Macon Ravenwood
VIOLA DAVIS ~ Amma
EMMY ROSSUM ~ Ridley Duchannes
EMMA THOMPSON ~ Mrs Lincoln/Sarafine
What’s it about?
Ethan is dying to get out of his nowhere town, Gaitlin, South Carolina, and escape in to the big wide world. Until Lena Duchannes comes to town, that is. There is an instant connection between them, but there’s something unusual about Lena.
There is a secret. There is a curse. There is a love that could bring the town to its knees. The fate of Ethan and Lena will be decided on her sixteenth birthday. Ethan didn’t see this in his small-town future.
How does it hold up?
It’s been quite a while since Beautiful Creatures came out: 2010, I think. I read it and enjoyed it at the time and read the sequel the year after, my love of paranormal diminished not that long after reading Beautiful Darkness (not the book’s fault!) and though I have the final two books in the Caster Chronicles, I’ve get to get around to the them. After watching the film, I’m eager to re-visit Gaitlin and see what became of those two young lovers.
One of the strengths of the book and the thing that lingers about it most strongly is the atmosphere: sultry, sexy, dark and tense. I didn't really get that in the film although the settings and scenery were absolutely stunning and completely spot on. I think it was the darkness that was missing for me and it was definitely necessary to the plot, especially with the arrival of Serafine and Ridley to wreak havoc.
Speaking of Serafine, how amazing was Emma Thompson?! I've been a steadfast fan of hers since she played by literary heroine, Elinor Dashwood, to perfection and she shone in this role. The contrast between her two characters is startling and it was like she became a different person with the flick of a switch! I utterly believed in her acting and she was equally menacing, creepy and pathetic. She’s pure brilliance, that woman.
Though it’s the case with a lot of paranormal romances, the insta-love kind of hit me in the face in this. I don’t recall noticing it as much in the book, but Ethan and Lena went from stay-away-I’ve-never-met-you to undying love in a scene. It was a tad too unrealistic in a movie and it jilted me out of the story a little. Saying that, I loved Ehrenreich and Englert’s portrayals of Ethan and Lena. Ethan was cheeky, charming and adorable, much more so than I remember him being in the books and Lena didn't annoy me nearly as much as she did originally.
One of my favourite things about them was that they looked like a normal teenage couple. They don’t look Hollywood and that completely endeared them to me: they could be the intense lovebirds cuddling on a park bench in the summer and you’d never know that she was a Caster. That’s not to say that they both weren’t attractive, they are! Especially Englert when she’s all dressed up for the Claiming and all of the soft, romantic shots, but they’re no Lily Collins and Jamie Campbell Bower as Clary and Jace from The Mortal Instruments! They are an inhumanly pretty couple.
The scenes that showed that Lena wasn’t quite were done fantastically, I thought. The scene at the Harvest meal, trapping Serafine, the Caster library and when Ethan breaks the security bond really captured the spirit of the Caster powers for me. They were magical, beautiful and a little bit creepy.
Finally, the bit that can make or break a film: the ending. I could see that the film was going to end soon and I couldn’t remember how the novel had ended and I was starting to panic. If it hadn’t changed direction pretty swiftly, I wouldn’t have liked this nearly as much as I did. Luckily, I (sort of) got what I wanted and Beautiful Creatures ended in a way that closed the first chapter of Lena and Ethan’s story and wrapped up the film nicely, but it was definitely left open for the possibility of a sequel. I’d actually really like them to film the rest of the series. The books are fun, the characters were played brilliantly and there’s a lot of scope with the world. Why not, I say!
How did you feel about the adaptation? Did you watch the film before you read the book? Did they miss anything important?