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Movie Discussion: Beautiful Creatures

So now, it’s been a whole week since Beautiful Creatures has come out to the big screen, and we here at Teen Librarian Toolbox have been very patient with you readers in waiting for you to see it.  If you haven’t, then go see it, and then come back, because after the break, we’re going to be discussing the movie and what we liked and didn’t like about it.

If you haven’t read the book by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, then chances are you will love the movie and not have really any qualms.  Beautiful Creatures is not doing too well in the box office, possibly for a number of reasons.  Talk around online outlets seem to say that the trailers made it out to be the next Sparkly Vampire Movie, when the movie wasn’t about that at all.  The books also supposedly don’t have as great a readership as those Sparkly Vampire Movie books,  which may have hurt chances as well.  It also was released during the weekend that Die Hard and Safe Haven were released, and Warm Bodies was still out, splitting up the potential audience.  

I don’t know.  Karen and I took her Tween to see it on Saturday, and we both loved it.  Karen hasn’t read the books, I have, and I divorced myself from the series in order to stay in movie world and fall in love with the movie.  If you’ve read the books, this is one of the movies that you’ll need to stay strictly in movie world in order to enjoy.  While Garcia and Stohl gave their blessing on the changes and rewrites, there are huge changes to the story.  CinemaBlend does a really good job of hitting the highlights here.  I do have to wonder if the changes that they made are because they’re not going to make a franchise- I haven’t been able to find anything online about any sequels, even before the weekend takes were online, which is unusual when there are multiple books you can take for subject matter. 


I don’t have my copy of Beautiful Creatures in front of me- our library’s copy is out with about 7 holds on it (yea), but I can tell you what I really liked from the movie and what I really missed from the book.

Seeing Serafine earlier:  Emma Thompson would have been wasted playing Mrs. Lincoln the way she had been written in the book, and seeing her being Serafine much earlier in the script was wonderful.  She got to be the evil and crazy, the ultragood and the mysterious all at once.  I wish she had more screen time.

  Ridley:  I loved how they played Ridley in the movie and the books, and I wish that she had more lines.  Maybe there are extended versions coming in the DVD.  Even though she’s a red-head polished Southern belle, and not the blonde over-the-top anime version from the books, Emmy Rossum nails Ridley like she was in my head.

Magic vs Religion: I really liked how the whole movie treated magic and religion on the Caster and Amma’s view- about how it’s all created by one and the same, and it’s only man who tells you what’s bad and what’s not.  I think it’s a very important viewpoint, not only for magic but for tolerance within our own culture, and one that’s lost.

The Magic:  I really liked how they did the magic- the house, Lena’s writing on the rooms, the snow in South Carolina, Serafine coming through, the fight between Lena and Ridley, the glowing eyes…  it could have come off as really cheesy but it came out really wonderful and special instead.

Amma:  I missed the original Amma.  I missed her cooking in the house, with her talismans and crossword puzzles, and the total immersion into her religion.  This is one of the things that makes me think there may not be more sequels coming- if you’ve read the books, you realize what an important part Amma and her religion and powers play, and how they counterbalance Macon, and we just tiptoe into the kiddie pool with it.

The Kelting and the Song:  Not only do Ethan and Lena not talk to each other mind-to-mind (Kelting), there’s no song telling Ethan and Lena what to do.  If you read the books, the song is such an important part of the plots for *each* of the books, and in the fourth you find out where they were coming from, and to have it taken out completely leaves something to be desired to me.  Not as bad as the deleted scene with Harry and Dudley in the last Potter movie, but still there.

Genevieve and the Book of Moons:  They changed up the whole story about Genevieve and the Book of Moons, and I’m not sure if it’s for better or worse.  Karen will tell you that she couldn’t get through the book for the flashback scenes, but the ties between Genevieve and her Ethan and Lena and the current Ethan are huge in the series.  The fact that the Book was in the library, not in the grave changes things completely.

More Story/Explanation:  It probably doesn’t make any sense to anyone but me, but I wanted more explanation on how things worked.  They never explained how Ethan could break through the protection spells they had worked around Lena; I know because I read the book.  They never explained how even though Serafine couldn’t break through Ethan’s house, Ridley could get into the mansion; I know because I read the book.  They never explained why Ridley was eating everything in sight while doing magic; I know because I read the book.  I wanted to know more about the world- we got mostly surface, and I like to know deeper.

Karen’s POV:
I tried reading the first book when it came out, I really did.  But I didn’t finish (shhh, don’t tell). It just took a really long time it seemed to go anywhere.  But when they started airing the ads on tv my Tween began begging me to take her.  Since this was the first non-animated movie she has ever asked to see, and it is ya lit inspired, and I wanted to see it anyway – we went.  I LOVED the movie.  I would go see it again in the theater to be honest.  Yes, it is a teen movie.  There is romance, there is angst. I loved Emma Thompson’s performance, even if it was over the top.  I loved the way they talked about books and reading and banned books and the desire to escape the small town.  In fact, they capture small town life perfectly.  All in all, I found it to be perfectly entertaining, I liked the message of taking control of your own destiny, and I found the lead characters to be charming and endearing and I wanted them to triumph.  That, in my book, makes a movie successful. Another bonus, it introduced me to Charles Bukowski whom I had never heard of.  Check out some of his quotes here.

Have you seen the movie?  Read the book?  Share your thoughts in the comments!

Book Review: Beautiful Redemption by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (reviewed by Christie G)

“I had an open mind, at least by Gatlin’s standards.  I mean, I’d heard all the theories.  I had sat through  more than my share of Sunday school classes.  And after my mom’s accident, Marian told me about a Buddhism class she took at Duke taught by a guy named Buddha Bob, who said paradise was a teardrop inside a teardrop inside a teardrop, or something like that.  The year before that, my mom tried to get me to read Dante’s Inferno, which Link told me was about an office building that caught fire, but actually turned out to be about a guy’s voyage into the nine circles of Hell.  I only remember the part my mom told me about monsters or devils trapped in a pit of ice.  I think it was the ninth circle of Hell, but there were so many circles down there that after a while they all sort of ran together.
After what I’d learned about underworlds and otherworlds and sideways worlds, and whatever else came in the whole triple-layer cake of universes that was the Caster world, that first glimpse of blue sky was fine by me.  I was relived to see there was something that looked like a cheesy Hallmark card waiting for me.  I wasn’t expecting pearly gates or naked cherub babies.  But the blue sky, that was a nice touch.”

Beautiful Redemption is the fourth and final book in the Beautiful Creatures series.  (If you haven’t read the first three, stop and read them before reading this one, because nothing will make any sense.  Trust me.  I’ll wait.) In other words, there are series spoilers so read on at your own peril if you are a newbie.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L1HQ5OP9E8c]

The series, like Hunger Games, Mortal Instruments, and Jonathan Maberry’s zombie series (Rot & Ruin), is being made into major motion pictures, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens with the casting and plot of the books; already they’ve made some changes with some of the major characters (*cough* RIDLEY *cough*), while keeping others pretty much the same as the descriptions in the books.  (I’m personally in love with the choice for Macon).

When we left off, Ethan had jumped off the water tower to save the Order, and correct the Universe, the Caster and Mortal world, and we were left with a cryptic ending on the last page.  In Beautiful Redemption, Ethan is in limbo, trying to find his way back to Lena, while Lena is breaking the rules to get Ethan back to her side of the world.  Needless to say, since it’s the final book, all the loose ends from the previous three are tied up, and the ending will make fans of the series happy.  Definitely add it to your collection if you already have the series, but not if you don’t have it, as for me it seemed very anti-climatic and forced (see below).  Would recommend the series for teens who love star-crossed lovers and fantasy, like the books of Melissa Marr or Becca Fitzpatrick.

However….  (spoilers sweeties)

I have to say, I LOVED the first three of the series, and I was extremely disappointed with this book.

I love the Southern Gothic genre and the Caster world, the magic and mysticism that flows through along with Amma’s magic and the voodoo thrown in.  I love the twisted histories and the intertwined family trees, and the repeated and tied destinies.  I loved the bad girl Ridley, and Link, and the crazy town with it’s secrets, and the Aunts.  And I want to BE MARION (THANK YOU for reclaiming the Marion the Librarian name from The Music Man). I was SOOOO excited to purchase the final book, thinking that it would live up to the others.

Nope.  Everything was too easy, yet had to be in there for some reason or another.  We touched on every character in the series, if only briefly, so everyone has an appearance.  After all the fights, and all the struggles that they’ve had within the series, it seems like this book was just, we need to tie this off, and this off and this off, so check and check and check.

First, Ethan can actually get himself everywhere he needs to without too much of a trial, even though his mom could only send songs through the Greats.  Then, he has these quests for the magical stones- except it just happens that one of the Greats has it, and Lena has the other.  Done, get it from the Great and then have Lena leave it at the grave.  CHECK.

Then travel to the deep, dark, forbidden place to get the goal.  Except, we never do what the Greats ask (in movies they call that continuity errors) by mentioning things- usually that comes with penalties that never occur in this book.  

Then, he needs The Book of Shadows, so even though we NEVER HAVE before, we get into Lena’s point of view.  She runs around with Link, finds Ridley, somehow Ridley escapes the magic cage she’s been stuck in since the middle of the last book, and then they have to battle the big bad on the Living Side.  And even though Abraham the great grandfather of all evil has the sucker, and has been the almighty boogeyman for the past three books, we can kill him off without loosing anyone else.  CHECK.

So then Ethan has the book, then battles a middle bad on the Dead side, then the BIG Bad on the Dead side (during which we tie up more loose ends), and he’s restored to the Living side, but not before we kill off someone that readers adored (thereby tying up the LAST loose end).  CHECK.

It all felt really anti-climatic and somehow forced, not the spirit uplifting book I was hoping for with the series.  I was left feeling somewhat disappointed and letdown, but I doubt that my teens will considering Ethan and Lena are back together, forever and ever.

Karen’s note: I have already seen the movie trailer and it will be big so you’ll need the series in your library.