February 25, 2013 -- This tale of a young witch with unlimited power who falls in love with a mere mortal muggle schoolboy seems a bit like a Harry Potter rip-off, but it works well enough thanks to a lot of acting talent, solid writing and good special effects. It's too bad they didn't put this money and talent into the “Twilight” series. There is no relationship between this film and a film with the same name that was released 13 years ago.
Schoolboy Ethan Wate (played by Alden Ehrenreich) can't wait to graduate and get out of the little rural, southern town of Gatlin, where he lives until an exotic new girl shows up in school, Lena Duchannes (Alice Englert). Lena is related to the rich, reclusive Macon Ravenwood (played by Academy Award winner Jeremy Irons of “Reversal of Fortune”). The Ravenwood family founded the town of Gatlin, and still has substantial real estate holdings there. Rumors of evil spells and Satan worship center around Lena and the Ravenwood family.
Ethan falls in love with Lena because she is exotic. She has been around the world, to all the places Ethan would like to visit. She also has the same contempt for Gatlin as Ethan does. These two kids would get along just fine, except for a problem that always seems to crop up in these kinds of films, a prophecy. Lena, it seems, has almost unlimited power. She can control the weather and can turn troublesome people into shrubbery. She is also immortal. There is a tragic prophecy that haunts her and prevents her happiness. Ethan and Lena's love appears to be a victim of destiny.
When Lena reaches the age of 16 she will have to chose if she is going to be a good witch or a bad witch (like embracing the dark side of The Force). Different factions of the Ravenwood family are trying to influence her choice one way or the other. The prophecy also figures into this decision. If the prophecy is not dealt with properly, Lena will become a bad witch, and the rest of the world will suffer for it.
Academy Award-winning actress Emma Thompson, plays a bad witch in this film and she seems to be having great fun being wicked. Another award-winning actress, Viola Davis, plays a person with the power of prophecy. She is on the side of those who want to see Lena become a force for good when she gets her full powers. The troublesome prophecy dates back to the time of the 1860s when an ancestor of Lena's caused problems by bringing a dead person back to life. It seems there must be a sacrifice of someone that Lena loves in order for the prophecy to be fulfilled.
There are some impressive special effects in the film, but these are used sparingly. The main story is the love affair between Ethan and Lena. There is good chemistry between these two and they are surrounded by so much acting talent that the rest of the story, destiny, prophecies and all, works. This film rates a B.
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