When newcomer Lena Duchannes arrives in the small town of Gatlin she quickly captures the attention of Ethan Wate, who only wants to escape what he views as a boring and dead end town. He quickly gets more than he bargained for, as Lena possesses strange powers that have long kept her at a distance from others in her life. Lena and Ethan are drawn together, but their budding romance is threatened by the dangers posed by Lena's being a Caster and her family's Dark powers, for upon her sixteenth birthday Lena must undergo the Claiming, a process that will decide her fate forever: Light or Dark.
Beautiful Creatures flies into the otherworldly romantic sphere occupied by the Twilight films, Buffy, The Vampire Diaries, True Blood--even Charmed. Based on the best-selling young adult book by Kami Garcia, the film adaptation of Beautiful Creatures tells a romantic tale between two young people with mysterious, dark backgrounds--and more than one secret. The young stars, Alice Englert as Lena and Alden Ehrenreich as Ethan, to whom she's mysteriously drawn, have a sweet, believable chemistry. And because it's directed by pro Richard LaGravenese (the underrated but fabulous Living Out Loud, P.S. I Love You), Beautiful Creatures is blessed with high production values; a quick, satisfying pace; and a supporting cast to die for (maybe literally). Emma Thompson, Viola Davis, Emmy Rossum, and Jeremy Irons, especially, seem to be enjoying themselves immensely as titular grownups in a teenage love story. This cast--and Lena's unexpected but badass supernatural power--all help add up to a delicious guilty pleasure. Beautiful Creatures shines with much more polish than some of the Twilight films, but carries just as much dramatic yearning. As well it should. --A.T. Hurley