'Beautiful Creatures' concocts familiar teen angst

By Associated Press Article posted on Thu. Feb. 14th, 2013
Ridley (Emmy Rossum) works for the dark side in “Beautiful Creatures.”
Ridley (Emmy Rossum) works for the dark side in “Beautiful Creatures.”
Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Rating: PG-13 for violence, scary images and some sexual material

Running time: 2 hours, 4 minutes

"Beautiful Creatures" — The genders have been reversed but the supernatural, star-crossed teen angst remains firmly intact in this drama that clearly aims to pick up where the "Twilight" franchise left off.

Writer-director Richard LaGravenese's film, based on the first novel in the young adult series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, oozes Southern Gothic eccentricity and some amusing if inconsistent touches of camp.

But a strong cast of likable and, yes, beautiful actors can only do so much with the formula in which they're forced to work. And, like the "Twilight" movies, the special effects are all too often distractingly cheesy.

The setup breathes some new life into such familiar material, though, as co-stars Alden Ehrenreich and Alice Englert feel like actual awkward teens enjoying the fraught thrills of first love. Once the plot machinations start grinding in the second half, though, "Beautiful Creatures" as a whole grinds to a halt.

Spells and scenery-chewing can be a hoot; watching other people sitting around scouring ancient tomes for clues, not so much.

Ehrenreich plays a restless teen in small-town South Carolina who's smitten by Englert's mysterious new girl. Turns out she's a witch — and she's probably doomed — but could true love with a mortal save her?

Emma Thompson, Emmy Rossum and Viola Davis co-star.

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