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Billy Summers: 'Beautiful Creatures' is cheap knock-off of 'Twilight'

Feb. 22, 2013 @ 10:55 AM

Not since I started getting paid to go to the movies have I ever thought of walking out in the middle of one. Until now…

The new “Twilight” rip-off is so bad they ought to put crime scene tape around the movie theater. This is so obviously an attempt to throw something together to capitalize on the famed romantic trilogy of Edward, Bella and Jacob, that I was surprised the heroine here wasn’t biting her lip clean off.

Among the numerous things wrong with this movie was, first and foremost, the acting, especially by the love interests.

Unknown actor Alden Ehrenreich (“Stoker,” “Twixt,” “Tetro”) plays Ethan Wate, a southern boy that makes Gomer Pyle look like a PhD candidate. He is about as far from a romantic heartthrob as Atlanta is to New York. His “Shazam” personality would attract no halfway-intelligent female within a thousand miles, except possibly a “Buckwild” or “Swamp People” cast member.

Whoever got this young fellow the romantic lead in this movie deserves to be named “Agent of the Year.”

In any other movie, young actress Alice Englert (“In Fear,” “Ginger & Rosa,” “8”) would be named worst actor in the movie, except that we are grading on the curve, and Ehrenreich skewers the results. As Lena Duchannes, Englert has a tough time with the lousy writing, but I suspect that she would not make a good heroine, even in a better movie.

The one shining light is Viola Davis (“The Help,” “Solaris,”  “Knight and Day”) as Amma, but “shining” is relative, here, and she merely paces through this disaster like a crime scene investigator, touching as little as possible, while doing her job.

Veteran thespians Jeremy Irons (“Dead Ringers,” “The Borgias,” “The Man in the Iron Mask”) as Macon Ravenwood and Emma Thompson (“The Remains of the Day,” “Nanny McPhee,” “Sense and Sensibility”) as Sarafine, in the meantime, seem to be having the time of their lives.

It is actually fun to watch these two spar with each other. They could care less that they are in a stinker, probably realizing that everyone else in the film is so horrible that it only enhances their given performances.

The plot is a Seinfeld version of a southern gothic romance (in other words, a love story about nothing), with a couple of scenes concerning the Civil War that were entertaining, but that was about it.

The Louisiana locales were more South Carolina weeping willows than Gulf Coast swampland, and the antebellum atmosphere is about as serious as a non-animated Scooby Doo set and actually reminded me of the 1995 “Casper” movie; or possibly “The Ghost & Mr. Chicken.”

CGI was adequate, which is one of the few things on the plus side here, but it’s no “Avatar.” Its saving grace is that there was minimal creature changing and the witches from a mix of “Beetlejuice” and “Bewitched.”

So far, there have been a couple of good teen-oriented movies that have successfully capitalized off of the monstrous glow of “Twilight,” the recent “Warm Bodies” being one, and “Zombieland” being another.

The latter had a great cast of proven veterans and the former had a nice script and did not take itself too seriously. Something these “Beautiful Creatures” has trouble doing.

This really is the worst movie that I have seen in a long time, maybe not the worst movie made, but at least the others were bad enough that I avoided plunking down eight bucks in the first place.

If only I had seen the crime scene tape…

Billy Summers is a freelance photographer who also reviews films for the Putnam Herald. He can be reached at summers855@yahoo.com.