Movie Pitch will be an occasional and crappy column. Here I will conjure up alternate universes where better movies exist instead of the ones that are unleashed onto the viewing public. The first movie I will be talking about is my second official 2013 movie (the first being On the Road).
(ph. THE MOVIE WAFFLER)
So. I don’t necessarily dislike Beautiful Creatures. It’s The Twilight Saga meets Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Why the Scott Pilgrim reference? The movie’s protagonist, a Southern bookish jock unicorn named Ethan Wate, is played by Alden Ehrenreich, whose comic expressions would have made him the overlord of Studio-era screwballs. I really need to watch Tetro. Anyway, he finds himself dreaming the perfect girl into existence. She’s Lena Ducahnnes (Alice Englert), who is moody and inflicts her Natural talents and change the weather, occasionally making rain fall on the very spot where her boyfriend Ethan Wate (Alden Ehrenreich) stands. Basically she’s inflicting her angst onto a submissive guy. She can do this not because she’s a vampire but because she’s a witch or a ‘caster,’ the movie’s supernatural race who dress like Alexander McQueen was still alive (sigh). And instead of abstinence we have a heterosexual white couple who can’t get their hands off each other, expressing their intimacy in a health way and without creeping out audience members who are older that the book/movie’s target market.
But I don’t care if Lena Duchannes, and Ethan Wate or Hannah Horvath and JoshUA exist, no matter what the latter looks like. I just don’t like watching people fall in love with selfish people.
So instead, here are movies that can occur within Beautiful Creatures’ universe that I would rather have seen.
a) A movie where Lena’s mysterious uncle Macon Ravenwood, played by Jeremy Irons, narrates the movie. His voice should have put him in every movie ever made, Hollywood.
b) The second half of the movie reveals Lena’s evil mother Sarafine, who has possessed Lena’s boyfriend’s best friend’s mother Mrs. Lincoln (Emma Thompson), Sarafine turning the latter from a dowdy ‘church lady’ into the kind of woman who lingers at an uptown bar during last call – no judgment. I know there isn’t going to a franchise out of the book series because this movie landed at a pathetic 5th place at the box office during Valentine’s Day. It even feels like the movie was preparing for franchise failure by what happens between Lena and Sarafine. The book’s real ending is that Sarafine retreats but promises to come back – within different bodies. As much as I don’t want to rob Emma Thompson of work can you imagine a movie series where a villain was a different veteran actress? Think of the possibilities. Anyone from Harry Potter. Emily Watson, Miranda Richardson, Joely Richardson, Patricia Clarkson, Michelle Pfeiffer. Female Glengarry Glenross. Sophie Okinedo.
c) This is the most important one. Unhappy caster families are unhappy in their own way. Aside from a ghostly uncle and an evil mother, Lena also has a quasi-evil cousin named Ridley (Emmy Rossum). The movie dedicates a whopping minute or two telling Ridley’s back story, showing a good caster turning bad. That back story could have been its own legitimate novel and French Extremity film. And Shameless aside, it’s time for Rossum to play a compelling lead role in a film.
Now let your imaginations run wild.
- Beautiful Creatures Review (Robert Harding) (entertainmentmaven.com)
Disney’s protagonists have always had to leave home. This is true from Snow White to Belle and even characters in Disney movies that are outsourced from Pixar like Wall-E and the gang from the Toy Story series. But unlike these debutantes and adult inanimate objects, The Lion King‘s Simba (Jonathan Taylor Thomas) an actual child, and a change of environment at such a young age demonstrates how precarious the idea of home really is. He delightfully gasps when he sees the untouched African jungle where Timon (Nathan Lane) and Pumbaa (Ernie Sabella) live, a place ripe for adult Simba (Matthew Broderick) to be too content to to live. But there is something to be said a carnivore adapting to eating bugs, Fear Factor style.
The jungle didn’t look like emeralds, outdoing that scene in The African Queen in showing how luscious and verdant it could be. The jungle isn’t the only landscape feature here, as we also have the African veld pre and post-Scar, and within desert dunes where Simba does some slow motion running. All of those have the Dinsey glow even though its animators were still working in 90’s technology.
Zazu (Rowan Atkinson) sings “It’s a Small World” to the chagrin of the regicidal and decadent lion Scar (Jeremy Irons) , Simba’s uncle. When Simba and his unlikely crew attack Scar, Poomba does his part, goes on a Travis Bickle rampage and exclaims ‘They call me MR. PIG!’ before doing a number on two unfortunate hyenas (Whoopi Goldberg, Cheech Marin and Jim Cummings). Pop cultural humour happens when a movie allows the supporting cast to talk, and I’m constantly surprised how our generation didn’t invent it. Movies or populist artistic expressions in the turn of the twenty-first century has this insecurity about itself that it references earlier work. Everything else before it seems like a solid text that I forget that these works have their own pasts, and that the people who are behind these older texts might, a bit, have felt the same way. Or that these references exist so that the kids will know that the world they’re watching isn’t exclusive and is actually relate-able to them.
Africa is in new and rougher hands because of Scar and while that is not untrue, it’d be more right to see that outside forces equally let destitution happen and no, hyenas don’t count as outsiders.
Timon sings the first and last verse of “Can You Feel The Love Tonight.” If only he’s more famous than Elton John, or maybe his already and I just don’t know it yet. During that musical number Simba and Nala grow from friends and much more. Nothing around Timon and Poomba’s jungle would have pushed him to adulthood, but finding love should.
Hakuna Matata – no worries. It seems like an alien concept in a worry-centric world. But this laid back feline only becomes victorious because of two inherent things, his royal lineage – which contributes a lot to his physical prowess, even with eating all those bugs – and his goodness. He doesn’t have a Rocky-esque montage where he trains to beat Scar (Jeremy Irons) and instead, he looks down on a pond to see his father Mufasa’s (James Earl Jones) but as himself.
This means two things. First, that there’s a difference between becoming and being and that, despite how Simba makes it looks easy to kick his Claudius-like uncle’s butt, that we have to believe in ourselves first. Although with this interpretation, what’s stopping the Claudius-like Scar from thinking the same way, grumbling to Zazu and the other animals that he IS the king.
The second involves adolescence as a state and the different responses towards becoming an adult. Some of us might be anxious to get the process of growing done already, but Simba partly gives up on it because he’s lost the proper environment to do that. The movie has Timon and Poomba harmlessly yet deliberately laughing at Simba’s interpretation of what stars really are. This shows adolescence as a state when we can be derailed and when our childhood narratives of destiny can be crushed. At least he learns kindness and acceptance towards creatures whom he would have eaten had things gone differently, even if they’re jokey and a bit passive aggressive towards him.It’s not cool to think you’re the king. But on that note their jokes are nothing compared to what would have happened if he stayed in Pride Rock – Scar would have probably subjugated him. Somehow the time off works, as the pressure to be and to have lost the throne is cagier than him slacking off, attaching himself to swinging vines all over the jungle and looking at the stars. Or let’s compromise and say that both suck.
Nonetheless, Simba in the jungle symbolizes a tendency within many of us to be oblivious of our own growth, that we need a good support group like Rafiki, Nala and a mirror to tell us what we can do. Broderick’s voice work as Simba has the gravitas with the roles he’s taken half a decade earlier, but he still has Bueller’s reputation and a boyish demeanour that he could easily switch on, even at thirty-two. He eventually finds himself snarling at Scar as if he’s just learning how to do so, as if he’s surprised that he can do it. It may seem like a compromise to show that he can only reclaim to his kingdom or as his old self but not do both. But he’s returning home because he’s a different being and that greatness is deserved through change.