By Sandie Angulo Chen,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Lush book adaptation mixes romance, fantasy, some violence.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The movie, like the book, questions the narrow mindedness of anyone who thinks it's right to ban books or outcast strangers just for being different, stresses the importance of making a choice versus doing what you're told, and encourages looking beyond superficial differences for friendships/relationships. Another take away is the idea that it's not really possible to be all good or all bad; most people are a (more realistic) mix of both.
Positive Role Models
Although they have an intense bond, Lena and Ethan's relationship starts off slower and friendlier than in other teen romances. What's more, Lena's decision to make a personal sacrifice to secure Ethan's safety is selfless and kind. Already more open-minded than his peers, Ethan loves that Lena is different than every other girl in his small town. He's really supportive of her and believes in her true nature, in spite of his friends and both of their families.
Violence & Scariness
Lena's uncontrollable powers lead her to shatter a set of windows, mildly injuring several of her "mean girl" classmates. In a flashback, a woman resurrects a man from the dead, only to kill him. Under a spell, a young man shoots someone with a rifle, and a magical battle leads to a character's destruction. One beloved character dies. A siren can make men do whatever she wants -- including put themselves in danger. Ethan, usually the only mortal witness to the magic, passes out a couple of times.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
More kissing in the movie than in the book. Several passionate kisses -- one that literally starts a fire -- and one shot of a brief make-out scene in a bedroom (clothes stay on). One character -- a siren -- wears provocative/tight clothes and can seduce any man to do as she bids. She also has a couple of heated make-out sessions with a guy. A couple of veiled jokes that reference oral sex and the ability to make things grow.
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Language includes a few variations on the word "s--t" ("chickens--t," "bulls--t") and "ass" ("suckass," "kickass," "badass," etc.), as well as pointed uses of the word "bitch," plus words/insults like "damn," "hell," "goddamn," "oh my God," and "shut up."
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Products & Purchases
Mercedes, Ford, Canada Dry ginger ale, and Google are seen, but, except for Google, the brands aren't part of the story.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults drink at a dinner.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Beautiful Creatures is based on the best-selling paranormal romance by Kami Garcia and Maragaret Stohl. Teens and mature tweens, especially fans of the four-part book series, will be eager to see the tale brought to life on the big screen. The movie has even more romance (including kissing, making out, and seduction) than in the book, with the central couple moving out of "friends" mode faster here than they did in the original story. Language includes "s--t" and "ass," and there's gun and magical violence that kills one beloved character and injures a bunch of mean teens. Discussion fodder includes some messages about the dangers of being close minded.
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Based on 15 parent reviews
Entertaining young adult adaptation
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Great movie for teenagers
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What's the Story?
BEAUTIFUL CREATURES is told from the perspective of 16-year-old Ethan Wate (Alden Ehrenreich), who lives in the fictional small (and close-minded) town of Gatlin, South Carolina. Nothing and no one ever changes in Gatlin ... until the first day of junior year, when Ethan meets his new classmate, Lena Duchannes (Alice Englert), the 15-year-old niece of wealthy and feared town recluse Macon Ravenwood (Jeremy Irons). Lena bears an uncanny resemblance to a mysterious girl who has repeatedly popped up in Ethan's dreams, and he's immediately taken with her. As they get to know each other, Ethan realizes that Lena and her family aren't the Satanists the townsfolk claim; they're witches, or "Casters." And on her 16th birthday, Lena will be "claimed" for either the forces of light of the forces of darkness.
Is It Any Good?
The leads are both appealing, and their romance is refreshingly sweet and tender -- as opposed to obsessive and controlling, as is so common in the genre. Although the Romeo and Juliet-like romance between young Ethan and Lena is the heart of Beautiful Creatures, this is a movie in which the grown-up characters have all the fun. Unlike Twilight or The Hunger Games, where the adults stay in the background, Irons, Viola Davis (Ammah, the town librarian), and Emma Thompson (town bigot Mrs. Lincoln) are enough reason for parents to accompany their teen daughters to the theater. Thompson and Irons are deliciously campy as they chew up the scenery, while Davis -- as always -- plays a sage and morally infallible mentor.
That said, devoted book fans hoping for a super-faithful adaptation are out of luck; writer-director Richard LaGravenese has taken considerable liberties to streamline the nearly 600-page novel into a two-hour film that leaves you wondering what will happen next. But he's kept the overall themes and (most) major characters -- including the lush, Southern setting with its oppressive heat and even more oppressive attitudes. The end doesn't provide a satisfying closure, so if another great cast could be summoned, a sequel wouldn't be unwelcome.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about Beautiful Creatures' message. What is it saying about being open to differences? About censorship?
How does the Beautiful Creatures story contrast to Twilight? Are there any similarities beyond the forbidden young love?
Is Ethan and Lena's romance a positive relationship role model for teens? How do each of them make sacrifices for the other's well being? Is it believable for a 15- and 16-year-old to have such an intense connection?
Fans of the books: What changes made sense for the page-to-screen transformation? What parts do you miss?
- In theaters: February 13, 2013
- On DVD or streaming: May 21, 2013
- Cast: Alice Englert, Emma Thompson, Emmy Rossum, Jeremy Irons
- Director: Richard LaGravenese
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Book Characters, High School
- Run time: 124 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: violence, scary images and some sexual material
- Last updated: May 18, 2023
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