'Beautiful Creatures' and other young adult adaptations will fill 'Twilight' void – for better or for worse

Every adaptation of a supernatural young adult book like 'Beautiful Creatures' is inviting 'Twilight' comparisons after the massive success of the vampire series. Here are a few coming up for 2013.

John Bramley/Warner Bros. Pictures/AP
'Beautiful Creatures' stars Alden Ehrenreich (l.) and Alice Englert (r.).

With the release of “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2” (did you forget how long that title was?) last November, the Twilight movie series, adapted from the books by Stephenie Meyer, officially came to a close.

We assume, that is. Brooding vampires could be coming back to a cinema near you if Meyer writes more stories or a movie-only narrative is cooked up.

But movie executives noticed the overwhelmingly successful box office grosses reaped by the story of ordinary girl Bella Swan and the melancholy vampire she loves, and those craving a young adult series fix over the next year won’t be disappointed. For better or for worse, every movie adaptation based on a young adult novel with similar themes will be compared to “Twilight” – whether they’ll be able to come out from that shadow remains to be seen. 

One out now, the movie “Beautiful Creatures,” adapted from the 2009 book by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, follows a boy, Ethan, who falls in love with a teenage girl named Lena who belongs to a family of witches. Lena is approaching her sixteenth birthday, on which she will be “claimed” by either the forces of good or evil. The book is the first in a series.

“Creatures” director LaGravanese told Newsday that the two stars of the film initially passed on the movie because they didn’t want to invite “Twilight” comparisons, an apprehension he also shared.

“My own hesitation about doing this was fear of getting lumped into this sort of 'Twilight' world,” LaGravanese said.

Actor Alden Ehrenreich, who plays Ethan, said he was uninterested at first by the pitch he got (which he said was “Twilight meets Romeo and Juliet”), but he was immediately won over when he read the script. 

“Whenever you're pitched something that sounds like it's just a rehash of other things that were successful, it's not very exciting,” he said. “Because you assume that means it's not somebody's personal vision, just a meld of certain tropes and conventions… within three pages I knew I wanted to do the film, because this character that I got to play I just identified with so much.”

The film was released yesterday but has suffered in reviews, currently holding a score of 53 on the review aggregator website Metacritic. Monitor critic Peter Rainer gave the movie a C+, writing, "[LaGravanese] outsmarts himself by playing everything too straight. (Mustn’t mess up the franchise.) A dash – only a dash – of Tim Burton ghoulishness might have helped."

But some were won over. Writer Meriah Doty titled her article for Yahoo! Movies “Beautiful Creatures is not Twilight (and you might like it better).”

“The love story in "Creatures" is decidedly relaxed, cerebral, dare I say more authentic and charming than the heightened, over-the-top passion between Bella and Edward,” Doty wrote.

Others are coming down the pike as well. The movie “The Host,” which is scheduled for a March 29 release, is based on the novel of the same name by “Twilight” writer Stephenie Meyer. “Host” is the story of Earth after aliens known as Souls inhabit the planet and start living in the bodies of humans. A Soul named Wanderer takes over the body of a girl named Melanie, who is in love with a boy named Jared, and Wanderer and Melanie struggle to coexist.

Actress Saoirse Ronan will play Melanie and “Red Riding Hood” actor Max Irons will play Jared, with actor Jake Abel of “Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief” playing Ian, a man with whom Wanderer falls in love.

And the adaptation of the first book in the supernatural young adult series “The Mortal Instruments” by Cassandra Clare is scheduled for an August release. “Mortal” follows a girl named Clary who discovers she has powers to fight evil demons. She is forced to try to reconcile her feelings for a boy who also battles evil creatures with the love her childhood best friend feels for her.

“Mortal” will star “Mirror Mirror” actress Lily Collins as Clary and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part One” actor Jamie Campbell Bower as Jace.  

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