Beautiful Creatures, more like Beautiful Disaster
As avid readers, if a movie is based off of a book, chances are we’ve already read it and know the story. The rule of thumb with these cases is that the book is always better and we’re okay with that, we’re prepared for that.
Understandably, not everything will work on screen in a two hour time slot and certain elements have to be changed or left out to make the story work.
But a great adaptation is able to do this without butchering the existing story. After all, if you’ve bought the rights to a book and are basing your movie off of it and marketing it as such, wouldn’t you want to stay true to the text and characters?
That’s what we don’t understand about the movie Beautiful Creatures, which we saw an advance screening of last night at the Scotiabank theatre. Having read and really enjoyed the book written by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, we were looking forward to seeing how they would bring this refreshing story to life. While it shares similar elements you expect from a supernatural teen book, there were also very unique tones that set it apart from, say, Twilight, or every other book/movie of the same genre and we felt so much could be done with that to make a great, unique movie.
So why, then, did Alcon Entertainment and writer/director Richard LGravenese think it was a great idea to completely change the entire story when adapting it to film? Sure, the characters are the same, the fate of mysterious Lena Duchannes (Alice Englert) is still uncertain and her life is still heavily intertwined with that of Ethan Wate (Alden Ehrenreich) and certain elements still play out as expected, but the events that do stay true to the book happen out of sequence (for no real reason) and the main events in the movie just never happen in the book. They are completely fabricated.
We cannot for the life of us understand why you would secure the rights to a book and then change the story completely. It isn’t just about making it work on screen, the Beautiful Creatures story does work, the story is strong as a whole. In fact, we would argue it might have even worked better. But what we were left with was a replica of every other teen movie, a number of plot holes that didn’t have to be there and a handful of very angry viewers (we were not the only ones).
It would be really nice to sit down with authors Garcia and Stohl and hear their opinion on the film. We can’t imagine that anyone would be comfortable seeing their own creation ripped apart at the seams and sewn back together so jaggedly and carelessly. It would break our hearts to hand over something we had worked so hard on only to see it completely gutted. We genuinely feel bad for them.
Granted, we don’t know much about the movie business or how it works. It’s not hard to imagine that these days Hollywood is so busy chasing the top box office slot that they care little for creative integrity or doing justice for an existing fanbase. And I’m sure buying an existing idea and manipulating it is easier than having to come up with your own work from start to finish. But that shortcut was the first of many in the making of this film and it really shows. If they were hoping for the next Twilight, they’re falling very, very short of that. Even the Twilight train wreck manages to be more credible than this disastrous attempt.
As an original movie, Beautiful Creatures isn’t horrible. There were actually some really cool things about it and some strong scenes. But tying it to a book series (a series that we happen to really, really enjoy) and then completely revamping it, that’s just never going to work for us. And while we’re just two people with little to no influence on a massive machine like the movie industry, our distaste for this won’t do much overall. But we are certainly getting sick and tired of seeing these great ideas completely ruined. Something’s gotta give.
Beautiful Creatures opens in theatres on Valentine’s Day, but don’t ruin yours by going to see it.
Images from Google images