'Beautiful Creatures' plays its supernatural story too straight

( PG-13 ) ( Monitor Movie Guide )

'Creatures,' an ordinary-boy-meets-teen-witch story, could have used a dash of Tim Burton ghoulishness.

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

Now that the “Twilight” series has run its course (at least I ever-so-fervently hope so), Hollywood is ripe for variations on a theme. Into the fray rushes “Beautiful Creatures,” based on the Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl bestseller and starring a lot of A-list actors, including Jeremy Irons and Emma Thompson, who vamp about looking dreary and desiccated.

Essentially it’s a young love Gothic involving a teen witch (Alice Englert, pretty good) and the happy-go-lucky high school misfit (Alden Ehrenreich) who falls for her. Writer-director Richard LaGravanese (he wrote “The Fisher King”) is too smart for this sort of thing, so he 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. Grade: C+ (Rated PG-13 for violence, scary images and some sexual material.)

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