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Rapid Review: “Beautiful Creatures”, “Die Hard 5” and “Safe Haven”

Rapid Review: “Beautiful Creatures”, “Die Hard 5” and “Safe Haven”

February 13
16:26 2013
Preston Barta
Staff Writer

This Valentine’s Day weekend features two movies for audiences to take their significant others to, with Nicholas Sparks’ latest film “Safe Haven” and a supernatural love story titled “Beautiful Creatures.” To all the single gentlemen who haven’t put a ring on it yet, don’t fret. Bruce Willis reprises his iconic role as police detective John McClane in “A Good Day to Die Hard,” so blood will be shed and helicopters will explode.

Beautiful Creatures, 124 min.
Rated PG-13 for violence, scary images and some sexual material.
Adapted and directed by Richard LaGravenese
Starring: Alice Englert, Alden Ehrenreich and Jeremy Irons

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

After “Twilight” closed the door to its legacy in film last year, studios were on the hunt for the next big franchise to appeal to young teen audiences. Warner Bros. Pictures found it with “Beautiful Creatures,” the first installment of the four-book series called “The Caster Chronicles” written by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. Unfortunately for the novelists, the film adaptation fails to generate sparks and narratively flows at a SparkNote pace, causing it to be unbearably flawed.

In a Romeo-and-Juliet-style story set in a small town in South Carolina, Ethan Wate (Ehrenreich) longs for change in his life, until he meets a mystifying new girl, Lena Duchannes (Englert). Together, they unveil dark secrets about their families and town.

Comparisons to “Twilight” are unavoidable, with the genders being swapped and the storylines paralleling each other. Instead of sparkling vampires and shirtless werewolves, we have witches, otherwise known as “casters.”

Academy Award-winners Irons and Emma Thompson both have fun with their roles, as does Oscar-nominee Viola Davis and the riveting Emmy Rossum (“The Phantom of the Opera”, 2004). The younger talent keeps things moving but they lack the depth and prominent screen presence that the veteran actors possess.

Like “Twilight”, “Beautiful Creatures” introduces a dozen characters and forgets about them; focuses more on capturing all the events in the novel to make audiences believe that it’s a faithful adaptation; and it features distractingly appalling visual effects. Some novels should be left alone and “Beautiful Creatures” is one of them.

A Good Day to Die Hard, 97 min.
Rated R for violence and language.
Written by Skip Woods
Directed by John Moore
Starring: Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney and Sebastian Koch
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

“A Good Day to Die Hard” is not a good day for die hard fans of the franchise. Not even Willis and his mean guns, trademark squints and wisecracks could keep this fifth chapter from being the headache that it is, as it is the worst “Die Hard” entry yet.

The story, a recycled plot with new age sensibilities, finds John McClane (Willis) traveling to Russia to help his wayward son, Jack (Courtney), and settle their differences so they can stop a nuclear weapons heist.

At the age of 57, Willis can still run and kick butt, so it’s safe to say that he is still very much the McClane that we have loved in the 80s and 90s. However, as much as Willis tries to make audiences feel as though their money is well spent, he is let down by a lethal combination of lackadaisical script writing and terrible direction.

In true Michael Bay fashion, you would think that a movie could never have enough guns, explosions, car crashes and chase scenes, but it could and this film can attest to that. “A Good Day to Die Hard” is as dumb as its title suggests and exceeds the limits of human imagination but in a very bad way.

Safe Haven, 115 min.
Rated PG-13 for for thematic material involving threatening behavior, and for violence and sexuality.
Screenplay by Leslie Bohem and Dana Stevens
Novel by Nicholas Sparks
Directed by Lasse Hallström
Starring: Julianne Hough, Josh Duhamel and Cobie Smulders

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Of all the films that are being released this weekend, “Safe Haven” is the one feature that you should give your hard earned dollars to, as it is Sparks best film since “The Notebook” (2004).

The film follows Katie (Hough), a young and perplexing woman who’s on the run trying to escape her past. However, when she tries to start a new life in Southport, North Carolina, and form bonds with the locals, including a friendly widower, Alex (Duhamel), the dark secrets of her past come back to haunt her.

Normally, when it comes to Sparks movies I tend to turn my head. His stories are practically all the same. He just throws the story from “The Notebook” into a Yahtzee cup and what comes out is his next book that will eventually be turned into a movie. However, like near-all romantic-dramas, men are not the target audience, which is why they get films like “The Avengers” (2012) and “The Dark Knight” (2008). Men, ladies need their films too and you will find “Safe Haven” to be a guilty pleasure. It’s only a bonus that you have an attractive lead like Hough (“Dancing with the Stars” TV series).

The story and the acting are solid. It even gets way more emotional than you would expect at the end. It does dabble in love story cliches but that doesn’t take away from the overall experience.

“Safe Haven” leaves audiences feeling involved in the situations and the lives of the characters, and yet it keeps you guessing at the outcome, delivering twists throughout its entirety. The film is well constructed, sweet and endearing. It’s the perfect date movie.

All films open in theaters nationwide today.

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1 Comment

  1. Marilyn Mearon
    Marilyn Mearon February 14, 09:20

    I loved the reviews thanks for sharing your point of view and look forward to seeing these films.

    Reply to this comment

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