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Richard LaGravenese Archives -

Richard LaGravenese Archives -

Karen Posada


2013/02/13 at 12:00am

Beautiful Creatures

02.13.2013 | By |

Beautiful Creatures

We all know that no matter what, books are always better than movies because they have the advantage to be as detailed as possible and to develop relationships without rushing; putting that aside I think director Richard LaGravenese did a good job with ‘Beautiful Creatures’ staying very close to the source material. I will get the ‘Twilight’ comparison out of the way and agree that this is a lot like that saga except that in this film we get much better acting and effects. This is without a doubt going to become the next teen addiction, the four books written by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl have been on the New York Times bestselling list for a while. The film definitely makes every moment more dramatic and the last thirty minutes are very chaotic, but the nice part is that it is all unexpected and that trick isn’t bad. For anyone interested just remember this is very much directed towards a teen audience like ‘Twilight’ was, so keep your expectations leveled and remember it is based on four books so we will probably get four or five movies.


In the small town of Gatlin, South Carolina where nothing ever happens, 17-year-old Ethan Wate (Alden Enrenreich) born and raised there awaits his high school graduation to escape the monotony and travel the world. But when Lena Duchannes (Alice Englert) the niece of the town’s shut in Macon Ravenwood (Jeremy Irons) comes into town everything changes, especially for Ethan. Lena has supernatural powers and being an outsider makes her an outcast, but Ethan is attracted to her and tries to break her shell to get to know her. The two must turn against the whole town and their leader Mrs. Lincoln (Emma Thompson) and some of Lena’s relatives like Ridley Duchannes (Emmy Rossum) with the help of Ethan’s best friend Link (Thomas Mann) and Amma (Viola Davis) they will do anything to be together.    


The script surprisingly mixes in a lot of comedy and charm, which helps give the film a more lighthearted and likeable quality. Enrenreich is fantastic and steals almost every scene he’s in, he has talent and shows it both in the comedic and more dramatic scenes, with that he will easily become the next heartthrob. Rossum is my next favorite; she’s perfect for this role and shows her potential. Irons and Thompson are also great, and give the film a good balance with the adult lead they provide. Davis is the heart of the film and you immediately are sympathetic towards her, her being one of the few humans. Mann really plays the role of a secondary character that is barely noticeable. I leave Englert for last because she really is the only thing that doesn’t shine here and feels out of place, she doesn’t seem to have any acting skills and has no appeal to bring the public to like her.    


The changes made so that the script could fit better in the big screen don’t bother me; I think it gives it a tighter and neater feel, although beware those that loved the book the ending is a bit different here. The time frame seems a little off at the beginning where it all seems to happen in the span of two days or so, it’s not quite clear. Referring back to rushing relationships this one feels rushed towards the middle and it takes away some of the magic of the story. This pace starts making things somewhat confusing and that is when the overdramatic part of the script comes in.


The southern setting is beautiful and the accents, the landscapes and sceneries really complement the film and its beauty. There are times when it’s hard to understand what the characters are saying and even what’s happening with all the supernatural stuff and people. The thing that gets the movie going and will have you buying your ticket for the sequel is the charm, beauty, elegance, sophistication and power it has to draw you in despite its flaws. If you were disappointed to not have a ‘Twilight’ movie coming out once a year, this one will be an easy replacement with a higher production value than the previous craze.

Jack Rico


2011/04/22 at 12:00am

Water for Elephants

04.22.2011 | By |

Water for Elephants

Water for Elephants’ is one of the most beautiful films you’ll see this year. With the help of one of the greatest Mexican cinematographers in Rodrigo Prieto, director Francis Lawrence who helmed ‘I Am Legend’ and ‘Constantine,’ gives us a visually beautiful, colorful picture full of vibrancy and panache with love at its core. This is the theme that traverses the story at every level. You see it subtly, passionately, and in complex ways. A mixed bag of everything. Unfortunately, you need real chemistry to pull this off, not a modicum. ‘Water for Elephants’ has its great moments but it also possesses some mediocre mush that weighs it down. It is ultimately a fine film, but because it could’ve been perfect, it is measured at a different scale. The criticisms here are not of the negative kind, but would like them to be viewed as constructive, a ‘what could have been better’ analysis of the events.

The film, in essence, is the circus story version of 1997’s Titanic. It follows almost the same exact plot structure: old man narrates his story of a tragic event in the form of flashbacks when he was young, his romance with a woman that was out of his reach, and the memory of the tragedy that our narrator has never been able to forget. Robert Pattinson is Leonardo DiCaprio and Reese Witherspoon is Kate Winslet’s character, with a circus ambience. This structure is very successful, but I have already seen it and have seen it done better. I don’t think it’s nonsensical to say that many who watch the movie will feel like they’ve seen it before. It’ll be an involuntary and subconscious reaction, but one that will affect the viewer’s judgement of it.

Based on the book by Sara Gruen, ‘Water for Elephants’ swirls around the life of a veterinary student from the wrong side of the tracks, Jacob (Robert Pattinson), who meets and falls in love with Marlena (Reese Witherspoon), a star performer in a circus of a bygone era. They discover beauty amidst the world of the Big Top, and come together through their compassion for an elephant named Rosie. Both are faced with the challenge of her charismatic and dangerous husband August (Christopher Waltz), who seeks to keep his matrimony and the circus alive no matter the consequences.

Twilight heartthrob Robert Pattinson’s individual work here is the best I’ve seen him do. He’s photogenic, charming and definitely has the magic to attract a vast contingency of female cinephiles with that ‘aww shucks’ demeanor. Witherspoon is Witherspoon, nothing more, and Waltz channeled Col. Hans Landa. Very good, but again I’ve seen him perform this character better in Inglorious Basterds. I tip my hat and salute the performance of Hal Holbrook as the elderly Jacob. You almost choked up in most of the scenes he was in, especially at the end. There’s something to say about watching an elderly person be so fragile and vulnerable in a close up. It’s powerful stuff.

Pacing and dialogue play a big part in the reasons this film made one or more yawn a few times. The pace is at times uneven because the dialogue withers a bit in the middle and it felt slow and wearisome. It then picks back up only to wane again. It did this a few times until it moved consistently enough to engross you once and for all through the end. Lawrence should’ve cut some scenes and push the movie forward even if it risked cutting out his favorite scenes with Pattinson. During the fist hour I must’ve looked at my watch once or twice and a guy in the back let out a loud yawn. Is it entertaining? No, not in the Fast Five type of way, but it’s not supposed to. It is supposed to titillate my senses and crescendo into a rousing symphony of engagement for me. It never reached those heights, but it also didn’t ruin my experience. This is a delightful movie, not a preeminent one.

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