Let me preface this by saying I had extremely low expectations for this movie. I read the book years ago, and I mostly went to see it just because my book-lover friends were going. This probably played in the film's favor.
I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. The casting, the setting, the dialogue, the story. It all blended together into an impressive adaptation. I left the theater surprised and pretty pleased.
I didn't constantly compare it to the book, and although there were some large differences between the stories, I couldn't help but be captivated by the onscreen production.
What I Loved:
1. When I first saw that Alden Ehrenreich was going to play Ethan, I was disappointed and sure that he would be terrible for the role. However, he surprised me more than any other element of the movie. He is hilarious and charming, and even though his looks don't match up with how I imagined Ethan, he is amazing at capturing his character.
2. The accents. While I knew that the characters were supposed to be extremely Southern, I never really processed how this would affect their personalities.
3. Maybe this is the same as the first point, but the casting was pretty much spot on. Lena was the only one I didn't love. Jeremy Irons, Emmy Rossum, and all of the others were perfect.
4. I laughed. A lot. I don't remember the books being very comical, but the movie is a wonderful mix of serious and hilarious scenes.
5. The number one thing I look for in book-to-film adaptations is this: does the movie capture the essence of the story? Does it hold the same feel as the book? The movie definitely captured the emotions I felt while reading Beautiful Creatures. The air of mystery, the confining malice of the small town, the danger looming in the future. It's all there, and I loved it.
What Disappointed Me:
1. Some of the visual effects seemed a little cheesy to me. They weren't bad enough to sway how I felt about this movie, but they weren't as amazing as I had hoped they'd be.
2. Like I said earlier, Viola Davis wasn't my favorite actress in the movie. While I didn't hate her, I don't know that I would have picked her to play Lena. In the books, Lena has such a vivd, distinct look about her. Her jet black hair and striking green eyes are traits I remember her by, and I missed those.
Overall, my list of complaints is much smaller than my list of positives. If you haven't seen this film (whether you are a fan of the books or not), I'd strongly recommend doing so!