Beautiful Creatures on Blu-ray Disc Released May 21st, 2013

Posted in Blu-ray, Commentary, US Releases on May 24th, 2013 by Dave

Beautiful Creatures

Romantic fantasy film Beautiful Creatures  saw its Blu-ray release this week from Warner Home Video on May 21st, 2013.

The movie is based upon the young adult genre novel of the same name by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.

With a ‘forbidden love’ story between witches and regular humans, the movie seem primed to cash in on the success of the Twilight phenomenon.

However the film had limited success.

Beautiful Creatures the Movie

Beautiful Creatures Blu-ray Screen Shot

The film opens in the small town of Gatlin South Carolina, where teen Ethan Wate awakens from a recurring dream of a girl he has never met.

Ethan also shares his enjoyment of reading banned books and his desire to escape his small-town existence and leave for college.

As he starts junior year at high school, Ethan is drawn to new student Lena Duchannes, who resembles the girl in his dream.

Ethan’s classmates take an instant dislike to her, and suggest that her reclusive family are devil worshippers.

When the classroom windows shatter, apparently due to Lena’s reaction, fears and suspicions that she is indeed a witch arise.

After school Ethan runs into Lena, whose car has broken down.

He gives her a ride home and the two bond over their shared love of poetry and having both lost their mothers.

Beautiful Creatures Blu-ray Screen Shot

When Ethan finds a locket, he returns to the mansion to give it to her as a present.

The touch of a locket triggers a shared flashback to the American Civil War, after which Ethan awakens at his home with no memory of how he got there.

Lena’s uncle Macon disapproves of their growing romance and conspires with Ethan’s family friend, Amma, to keep the two apart.

However Ethan continues to pursue Lena, and she tells him that she and her family are “casters,” who are capable of performing a variety of spells such as changing the weather and casting illusions.

On her 16th birthday, Lena’s true nature will steer her towards either the light or the dark.

Ethan reassures her that she is a good person and will side with the light.

However matters are complicated by the arrival of two powerful dark casters who aim to push Lena to the dark.

Can Lena and Ethan’s relationship survive, against all the odds?

I have to admit that my expectations were not especially high for Beautiful Creatures, and it ended up being considerably better than I expected.

While there is not really much going on outside of the core romantic through story, there are a number of interesting turns that were not obvious.

The film has themes that are touched on repeatedly, perhaps the key theme being sacrifice, though the story also delves into teen insecurity and intolerance.

Beautiful Creatures Blu-ray Screen Shot

All in all it was fairly well structured and executed, though it certainly never lost sight of its key demographic audience.

For a teen targeted fantasy romance, the film is pretty solid and I would expect it to resonate well with that audience.

If your preference lies elsewhere, this might not be the best choice for you.

The movie features Alden Ehrenreich and Alice Englert in the lead roles, and a surprisingly strong supporting cast including Jeremy Irons, Viola Davis, Emma Thompson, Emmy Rossum, Pruitt Taylor Vince and Eileen Atkins.

Beautiful Creatures was directed by Richard LaGravenese, whose body of work includes Freedom Writers and P.S. I Love You.

The critical response to the film was fairly middle of the road with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 45%, though it did better at the IMDb with a score of 6.1/10.

Beautiful Creatures fell a little short at the cinema, taking in $19.5M at the US box office, though the total international box office matched its $60M estimated budget.

Beautiful Creatures on Blu-ray Disc

Beautiful Creatures Blu-ray Screen Shot

The video on the disc is an AVC 1080p encode at 25 Mbps, and is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.40:1.

Overall the film looks pretty good, with a slightly muted colour palette chosen for the desired look.

Sometimes the colour timing in the darker scenes didn’t really appeal to me, though I think that the Blu-ray delivers a fair representation of the film makers’ intent here.

For full resolution PNG screen captures taken directly from the disc you can check the details page for Beautiful Creatures.

The main audio is lossless DTS-HD Master Audio with 5.1 channels – 24 bits resolution at 48 kHz.

The disc is a dual layer BD50, with 34.7 GB used and is coded for All Regions.

Beautiful Creatures on Blu-ray Disc – The Bonus Features

This Blu-ray release has quite a number of supplemental features and featurettes.

The featurettes are fairly short for the most part, typically running 3 to 4 minutes in length.

Book to Screen covers the translation of the story from novel to screenplay and movie.

The director Richard LaGravenese and authors Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl discuss the adaptation, though there are also movie clips, behind the scenes footage and cast interviews.

Beautiful Creatures Blu-ray Screen Shot

The main challenge here was to distill the book into a ‘less detailed’ version that maintains the heart of the story.

The supernatural beings in the film is the subject of The Casters.

The nature of the Casters, the dark and light Casters and Lena’s destiny are all discussed.

Between Two Worlds talks about small town life and the life of the Casters.

These are two independent ‘worlds’ that exist side by side.

The relationship that develops between Ethan and Lena is covered in Forbidden Romance.

The nature of the two characters is also discussed by the actors that play the roles.

Alternate Worlds goes over the effects in the movie, both practical and computer generated.

There are over 500 visual effects shots in the movie, though often the sets were physically built as well.

The spinning table was done practically, though it was enhanced by added effects.

The civil war scenes were also a combination of practical and computer generated effects.

The climactic scene is another heavy special effects sequence.

The elaborate costumes for the movie is the focus of Beautiful Creatures: Designing the Costumes.

Other features include a selection of four deleted scenes and trailers.

The deleted scenes were likely cut for pacing and the trailers include a book trailer for Stohl’s latest book.

Warner delivers again with alternate formats including a DVD Copy for legacy players and an UltraViolet Digital Copy code.

Beautiful Creatures on Blu-ray – Final Thoughts

Beautiful Creatures Blu-ray Screen Shot

Beautiful Creatures is a film that exceeded my expectations though is firmly targeted at a teen or young adult audience.

Warner Home Video has put together a technically  strong presentation and a tidy collection of featurettes and extras.

The retail price is $35.99, or order it right now at Amazon for $22.99, saving 36%!

Extras:

  • Book to Screen
  • The Casters
  • Between Two Worlds
  • Forbidden Romance
  • Alternate Worlds
  • Beautiful Creatures: Designing the Costumes
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Theatrical Trailers

Synopsis:

A strange recurring dream haunts Ethan Wate in his sleep, but he prefers anything to his waking life. Trapped in a small, conservative Southern town with his withdrawn father, Ethan desperately wants to escape. Then the beautiful Lena Duchannes arrives at his school, and mysterious events begin to occur. Lena has a secret: she is a Caster with powers beyond her control. Worse, when she reaches her 16th birthday, she will be claimed by either the Light or the Dark… and there is no escaping her fate in this supernatural love story based on the best-selling book series.

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