Beautiful Creatures

Warner Brothers

Rated PG-13 for violence, sexuality and scary images.

Puppy Love Blossoms Across Species In Supernatural Romantic Fantasy

Ethan (Alden Ehrenreich) has lived his whole life in Gatlin, South Carolina, a tiny town in denial about the fact that the South lost the Civil War. The community is so backwards that it has banned books as seemingly innocuous as To Kill A Mockingbird.

This frustrating state of affairs has left the curious sophomore determined to attend a college far, far away from the Bible Belt. In the meantime, however, he is secretly reading any of the censored titles he can get his hands on.

For months, Ethan has also been haunted by a recurring nightmare in which he attempts to approach a gorgeous ghost, only to die right before reaching her. Consequently, he wakes up in a cold sweat every morning with a crush on an apparent apparition he thinks doesn’t really exist.

But, as luck would have it, a new transfer student who’s the spitting image of the girl of his dreams shows up in Ethan’s class on the first day of the fall semester. Recently orphaned Lena (Alice Englert) has just been taken in by her Uncle Macon Ravenwood (Jeremy Irons), the wealthy neighborhood weirdo whose family founded Gatlin generations ago.

Most of the locals know better than to trespass onto the unwelcoming, Gothic Ravenwood Estate, but not Ethan, who’s too smitten with Lena to care. It’s not long before he and Lena are an item, although the flirty 15-year-old does her best to warn her new beau that she’s nothing but trouble.

If only Ethan bothered to consult librarian/seer Amma Treadeau (Viola Davis), he’d know to steer clear of the entire Ravenwood clan. For, truth be told, they’re “Casters,” meaning otherworldly beings whose supernatural powers kick in when they turn 16. And with Lena’s impending 16th birthday just over the horizon, the burning question is whether she’ll be a good witch or drawn to the dark side by her cousin (Emmy Rossum) and late mother (Emma Thompson).

Thus unfolds Beautiful Creatures, a deliciously naughty adaptation of Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl’s young adult novel of the same name. Directed by Richard LaGravenese, the picture’s plotline is a bit reminiscent of the vampire/human series Twilight, except with the human and non-human protagonists’ genders switched.

Between a talented cast and a compelling script, Beautiful Creatures is bound to do well with the targeted tweener/teen demo with which such cross-species romances seem to resonate nowadays. A viable jumpstart of yetta nudder escapist fantasy franchise.

 

Very Good (3 stars)

Running time: 118 minutes

 

Saving Lincoln

Quad Cinema

Unrated

Buddy Biopic Chronicles Lincoln’s Long-Term Relationship With Close Confidant And Bodyguard

A bodyguard doesn’t have the luxury of making a single slip in the process of protecting the president, since a would-be assassin needs but one opportunity to succeed in his deadly mission. Ward Hill Lamon (Lea Coco) learned that lesson the hard way when John Wilkes Booth shot Abraham Lincoln in the back of the head on April 14, 1865.

Ironically, that was the very same day on which Honest Abe created the U.S. Secret Service. For, up until then, Lincoln’s security detail essentially consisted of just one person, the self-appointed Lamon.

In fact, the former law partner was the only pal Lincoln had brought with him from Illinois to Washington, D.C. As a banjo-playing, joke-telling confidant, he not only served as a sounding board but periodically provided the president with some well-needed comic and musical relief from the strains of the taxing job.

After all, The Railsplitter had been in the White House but a month when the Civil War erupted. Thus, he was burdened his entire tenure in office by the stresses associated with the conflict. And while he was trying to preserve the Union, he narrowly survived numerous attempts on his life (including a bullet passing through his stovepipe hat), the first of which was thwarted before his inauguration early in 1861.

Written and directed by Salvador Litvak, Saving Lincoln is an intimate buddy biopic chronicling the pair’s enduring friendship. The film unfolds from the perspective of narrator Lamon, who ominously concedes that, “I never could be at ease when absent from Lincoln’s side.”

Among the many plots the ever-vigilant escort managed to foil was a Rebel kidnapping scheme to hold the president ransom for 200,000 Confederate POWs. Sadly, Lamon was conspicuously absent the fateful night of the cowardly ambush in the box at Ford Theatre during the Third Act of the performance of a farce called Our American Cousin.

Having previously dispatched his trusted bodyguard to Richmond, Virginia, Lincoln ill-advisedly ignored the warning, “Do not go out, particularly to the theatre.” A grieving Lamon later waxed philosophical about the tragedy, concluding, “I did not save Mr. Lincoln, because he did not wish to be saved. He completed his work and earned his rest.”

A fresh take on The Great Emancipator from the point-of-view of a constant companion who had been at the president’s side at Gettysburg and for many historical moments, but not on the day he died.

 

Very Good (3 stars)

Running time: 101 minutes

 

OPENING THIS WEEK

Kam’s Kapsules:

For movies opening February 22, 2013

 

Dark Skies (PG-13 for violence, sexuality, drug use and pervasive terror). Haunted house horror flick about a happy family (Keri Russell, Josh Hamilton, Dakota Goyo and Kadan Rockett) whose serene, suburban home life is irreversibly affected by the arrival of a deadly, demonic force. Co-starring J.K. Simmons, L.J. Benet and Annie Thurman.

 

Snitch (PG-13 for violence and drug use). Action thriller about a desperate father’s (Dwayne Johnson) infiltration of a drug cartel for the DEA in order to help his framed teenage son (James Allen McCune) avoid a 10-year prison sentence. With Susan Sarandon, Benjamin Bratt, Barry Pepper and Harold Perrineau.

 

11 Flowers (Unrated). Coming-of-age drama, set in rural China in the ‘70s, revolving around a mischievous, 11-year-old boy (Wenqing Liu) whose fate becomes intertwined with that of a murder suspect (Zizi Wang) he finds hiding from police along a riverbank. With Ni Yan, Ni Yen and Jinchun Wang. (In Mandarin with subtitles)

 

Bless Me, Ultima (PG-13 for violence and sexual references). Screen adaptation of Rudolfo Anaya’s haunting novel, set in New Mexico during World War II, about a mysterious medicine woman (Miriam Colon) who teaches a six-year-old boy (Luke Ganalon) about the spirit world and about the battle between good and evil brewing in their tiny town. Supporting cast includes Benito Martinez, Dolores Heredia and Castulo Guerra.

 

Inescapable (Unrated). Abduction drama, set in Syria, about a Canadian immigrant (Alexander Siddig) who returns to Damascus for the first time in a quarter century to search for his suddenly-missing daughter (Jay Anstey). With Joshua Jackson, Marisa Tomei and Oded Fehr. (In English and Arabic with subtitles)

 

Kai Po Che! (Unrated). Disney-produced, Bollywood adaptation of The 3 Mistakes of My Life, Chetan Bhagat’s best-selling novel, set in Ahmedabad at the turn of the millennium, about three best friends (Amit Sadh, Raj Kumar Yadav and Sushant Singh Rajput) who start a business with the hope of finding fame and fortune. Featuring Amrita Puri. (In Hindi with subtitles)

 

One Life (Unrated). Ambitious eco-documentary, narrated by Daniel Craig, examining the life cycles of a menagerie of animals all over the planet.

 

Red Flag (Unrated). Alex Karpovsky wrote, directed and stars in this road comedy about a fledgling filmmaker who embarks on a promotional tour of his latest film with a reluctant pal (Onur Tukel) after being dumped by his marriage-minded, longtime girlfriend (Caroline White). With Dustin Guy Defa, Keith Poulson and Jennifer Prediger.

 

Rubberneck (Unrated). Alex Karpovsky wrote, directed and stars in this stalker thriller as a scientist who becomes increasingly infatuated with a co-worker (Jaime Ray Newman) after they share a one-night stand, despite the fact that she’s clearly no longer interested. With Dennis Staroselsky, Amanda Good Hennessey and Andrew Horowitz.

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