Let's break this down. First, we've got two girls on the run. Then we've got evasion, blackmail, murder, betrayal, revenge and, as if that weren't be enough to pique an audience's interest, a suitcase loaded with a million pounds thrown into for good measure. Gritty, stylish and darkly comedic, this 2001 British crime flick is...wait...what? Beautiful Creatures is a 2013 movie about spells, secrets and the classic struggle between good and evil and not the tongue-firmly-in-cheek thriller with Rachel Weisz? Well...this is awkward. But I won't lie, my interest is piqued nonetheless. You had me at spells.
So let's try this again. Magic? Check. Witches? Check. A battle between dark and light? Also check. So now we've got the absolute basics down, just what else should movie fans be clued in on when it comes to this latest big screen fantasy from Warner Bros. and director/screenwriter Richard LaGravenese? Read on and find out:
- From the page to the screen. Based on the young adult novel by authors Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, the movie follows Lena Duchannes (Alice Englert), a teenage girl newly arrived in the small, close-knit town of Gatlin. Mysterious from the get-go, she
quickly captures the attention of Ethan Wate (Alden Ehrenreich), a moody teenager longing to escape his boring and dead-end life. And no wonder, with a laundry list of dark secrets as long as your arm, boring is one thing Lena is not. She is a Witch, or a Caster as they prefer to be called, and come her
sixteenth birthday, she must undergo the Claiming, a process that will forever decide whether her powers with be used for the Light or for the Dark.
Big story, big-name cast. Though the film's two leads may be relative unknowns to most movie-going audiences, Creatures boasts one hell of a supporting group of thesps including two Academy Award winners (Emma Thompson and Jeremy Irons) and another who counts herself a multiple nominee (Viola Davis). Davis's role of Amma is actually an amalgam of two characters from the book;
Amma, a housekeeper and Seer, and Marian, a librarian and Ethan's late
mother's best friend. When writing the screenplay, LaGravenese combined the two to create a meatier part hoping to catch the attention of an A-list actress. Mission accomplished. And if those three powerhouses weren't enough, stalwarts Emmy Rossum, Margo Martindale, Eileen Atkins and Kyle Gallner are all along for the ride.
- Practical magic. Despite the story's bent toward the supernatural, director LaGravenese was determined to ground the movie's more fantastical sequences in reality and set out to limit the amount of CGI and green-screen used. One key set was built on hydraulics so that the table and chairs (with actors on them!) would spin at a rate so fast the director himself required a dose of Dramamine. As co-star Rossum described to MTV back in August: "[W]hen we walked on to the stage and realized
the chandelier does actually move, the chairs did actually spin, the
table did actually spin ... it was all very exciting."
- A star with pedigree roots. Though audiences might not yet be familiar with young female lead actress Englert, they just might be a bit more familiar with her mother, Academy Award nominated and Palme d'Or winning New Zealand director Jane Campion. Though Creatures marks Englert's major North American big screen debut, she earned a British Independant Film Award for Best Supporting Actress for last year's Ginger & Rosa opposite Elle Fanning. A multi-talented up-and-comer, Englert also wrote and recorded a song, "Needle and Thread," set to feature in a pivotal scene in the film.
- The potential for more. As with recent success franchises The Hunger Games and Twilight, Beautiful Creatures is based on not one, but a series of teen novels. Just what does that translate to in terms of the film? Well if Lena Duchannes's story capture audiences imaginations, there's the potential to see all four books in the quartet adapted for the big screen.
Now that you've got a couple of the essential facts under your belt, delve deeper into the story, the characters and the atmosphere of Beautiful Creatures in the star-studded, behind-the-scenes featurette below:
See Beautiful Creatures when it opens February 14 in theatres nationwide.