Has it become Vanessa Hudgens week on HitFix? 

With new images from "Beastly" and with our interview for her new movie "Bandslam" opening tomorrow it certainly seems like it.  But, to be honest, this writer has never been a big fan of the Hudgens.  Sure, she's been cute and perky, but she'd always seemed like the weakest link of the entire "High School Musical" crew.  And, let's be frank, releasing a single entitled "Sneakernight" won't endear you to many (of any age).  But, over the next year or so, Hudgens might get the last laugh.

HitFix had the opportunity to visit the set of Hudgen's new movie "Beastly" last month in Montreal and it was an eye-opener.  Directed by "Phoebe in Wonderland's" Daniel Barnz, the project is a re-imagining of the classic "Beauty and the Beast" tale in a contemporary New York setting.  However, unlike the popular CBS Television series of the late 80s this "Beast" won't be shedding fur.  The story centers on Kyle (Alex Pettyfer), a spoiled, rich teenager who -- you guessed it -- is beautiful on the outside, but whose inside could use some major work.  After taunting the unconventional Kendra (Mary-Kate Olsen) just a few too many times, the secret wiccan casts a spell on Kyle that disfigures him and forces his father (Peter Krause) to banish him to the outer boroughs of the city.  That' where the "Beauty," Lindy (Hudgens) comes into play.

Taking a few moments out from his busy shooting schedule, Barnz says he was intrigued by the same sort of "magical realism" "Beastly" features that he dealt with in "Phoebe," but this tale won't be an out and out drama.

"This is a serious romance and it definitely takes some dark turns which I think is good, because I don't think audiences just want fluff," Barnz says. "I was very inspired by 'Say Anything.' I thought there was this kind of rawness and visceral qualities of those years.  Being 18 and 19 and what those years are like. So, I wanted to translate that into this film as well."

Producer Susan Cartonis is no stranger to quality female skewing flicks having championed hits such as "Where the Heart Is" and "What Women Want."

"I would call it an epic romance that is first for a young audience, but then spreads out for everybody including people my age," Cartonis says. "it doesn't condescend to the audience as the best romantic movies don't and that's what I feel most proud of it. I feel like Daniel has told a story that first and foremost is a love story, a story about transformation that has an epic feel about it."

And that brings us back to Hudgens.  We'll save the intriguing details for the full report, but this day's scene showed that the 20-year-old is a pros pro with more range than most critics would give her credit for. So, perhaps Zack Snyder knows what he's up to casting her in "Sucker Punch."  Hudgens admits this picture may be the prefect bridge between her teen career and more adult roles. 

"It definitely is a step towards basically playing different things," Hudgens says. "This movie is pushing me as far as I've ever gone. I'm in love with the character. She's all over the place, but she's very strong. And the story. I love a good love story."

Look for more from the "Beastly" set and Pettyfer's thoughts on his big break down the line on HitFix. 

In the meantime, check out some brand new images from the film here.