Beautiful Creatures

Beautiful Creatures (2001)
Universal Home Video
Cast: Rachel Weisz, Susan Lynch
Extras: Theatrical Trailer, Production Notes, Cast & Crew Bios

’Beautiful Creatures’ is marketed as a cross between Guy Ritchie’s ’Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels’ and Ridley Scott’s ’Thelma and Louise.’ While nowhere near as good as either of those two films, the movie does have a certain charm of its own and should be of particular interest to fans of black humor done British (or in this case, Scottish) style.

The film opens with Dorothy (Susan Lynch) coming upon Petula (Rachel Weisz) being throttled by her loser boyfriend. Grabbing a conspicuously handy piece of pipe, Dorothy does a number on the boyfriend and come morning he’s dead. Realizing that no one would believe their story, the new best pals hatch a clever scheme to cover up their crime — and make a few bucks in the bargain — by reporting old, dead Brian as missing and forging a ransom note. But a suspicious police detective and Dorothy’s real winner of a boyfriend smell something fishy and soon the two women are in way over their heads.

Billed as a dark comedy, ’Beautiful Creatures’ is certainly dark but the humor is not nearly as prevalent as the marketing would lead one to believe. And, while Bill Eagles’s direction is competent enough, the overall feel of the film is somewhat flat. The lead players turn in decent performances but the script seems to be trying too hard and the end result is some very unconvincing dialogue. In the end, the film is saved by its fine ensemble cast who easily steal the picture from the leading ladies and won’t let something as trifling as a poorly-scripted line stand in their way.

The film is presented in anamorphic widescreen and is framed at an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The overall image is fairly sharp but for a few soft-focus scenes. Colors are solid and accurate as well — although somewhat drab given the setting of Glasgow, Scotland. Black levels are fairly good with only the darkest scenes losing detail. But the transfer does suffer from a few problems as well. Edge enhancement and compression artifacts are in evidence and the picture is quite grainy with a surprising number of blemishes for such a recent theatrical release. On the whole, ’Beautiful Creatures’ is a very run-of-the-mill DVD transfer.

Audio is presented in both Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 mixes. As is increasingly the case on these dual format releases, the listener will be hard pressed to find any substantial differences between the two soundtracks. In any case, this isn’t really the type of film to take full advantage of a 5.1 mix. The soundstage is firmly anchored to the front speakers with the surrounds kicking in for the odd musical passage. Dynamic range is somewhat subdued with no deep bass and flat-sounding effects and score. But the all important dialogue is quite clear and even the thick accents provide no hindrance.

Extras are limited to the film’s theatrical trailer, production notes, and cast and crew biographies and filmographies.

’Beautiful Creatures’ should appeal to fans of modern film noir and femme fatales. Very reminiscent of ’Bound,’ the movie delights in skewering the male gender and presents some very strong women who are seemingly unable to make good relationship choices. I can’t say that I was terribly impressed with the film as a whole but it does have its moments and it’s those small pieces that make for a enjoyable evening’s entertainment.

As for the DVD itself, the video presentation is a tad weak and the audio is certainly nothing special but there’s nothing in the overall technical quality of the disc that is glaringly irksome. A few insightful extras would have been welcome but Universal has delivered a very basic disc and fans of the film likely won’t be too disappointed.

Oh, and whoever thought that making Rachel Weisz into a blonde was a good idea should be severely reprimanded.