BEAUTY & THE BEAST
Disney’s animated classic takes on a new form, with a widened mythology and an all-star cast. A young prince, imprisoned in the form of a beast, can be freed only by true love. What may be his only opportunity arrives when he meets Belle, the only human girl to ever visit the castle since it was enchanted.
Now like most people, I love Beauty & The Beast, I love the original animated movie, I think it’s one of the definitive Disney animated classics. This has the best animation Disney has ever done, the story is great, the love story works really well, the songs are all well done, and there’s a lot of great twists and turns that work to the film’s advantage. So, this live-action adaptation has a lot it needs to do to be as good as the original animated movie.
And from the marketing standpoint, it seemed like Disney was going to be on the right note, the trailers looked really good, it looked like the animated feature in real life, it seemed like you have a winner here, right?
Well….um…..how do I put this? It’s not horrible but it’s not a good movie. To be perfectly honest, I walked into this with a lot of high expectations and by the time I got out, I felt really underwhelmed and disappointed because Beauty & The Beast is such a perfect movie and for this movie to do what it does, they took a lot of the magic and wonder that was in the original movie.
I mean, with these live-action adaptations of Disney classics getting better and better over the last few years, you would think somebody would’ve put a lot of effort into Beauty & The Beast to make sure it works in live-action, they try and it definitely shows but when it fails, boy, it fails miserably.
Starting with the positives I have for the film, the movie looks visually gorgeous. You can definitely tell they put a lot of time and effort into making the movie look like the animated film in real life and the production design and costume work in this is spectacular, I would not be surprise if they swept the Oscars for production design and costume design next year because this is a really beautiful looking movie.
The overall cast is very good, Emma Watson is nicely cast as Belle, she really does fit the role nicely and she works off the rest of the cast very well especially Dan Stevens as the Beast, who also gave a really good performance in this and I did like how he channeled a lot of Robby Benson’s original performance in this. The chemistry between Belle and the Beast in this is really, really good, I liked how the Beast is more misunderstood in this and actually does have some quippy one liners to him that made him more relatable to Belle.
Luke Evans is really good as Gaston in this but at the same time, I really didn’t like how they made Gaston more villainous than they made him in the animated movie. What was great about Gaston in the original movie is that they played him off as the hero in the beginning but as the film continues on and Belle continues to reject Gaston, his more evil side comes out and the progression of that in the original worked so much better than it does here where automatically, he just comes off as the bad guy.
Josh Gad as Le Fou is really solid in this, he definitely had a lot of really fun moments and great jokes in there, they definitely did a good job of expanding his character in this. Plus, I’m just going to say this right now, this whole controversy about Le Fou being gay in this, you have nothing to worry about. It’s one millisecond of a scene, I mean, if you blinked or had your ears blocked, you would’ve easily missed it, it’s a controversy that was blown completely out of proportion. Le Fou is really one of the great things that stand out about this movie.
The rest of the cast is great in this, Kevin Kline is really good as Maurice, Ewan MacGregor and Ian McKellen work well together as Lumiere and Cogsworth, Gubu Mbatha-Raw is nicely cast as Plumette, Emma Thompson is really solid as Mrs. Potts, Audra McDonald has a nice fun over the top role as Madame de Garderobe and Stanley Tucci has a fun little role as the Cadenza.
The CG is nicely done in this, a lot of the computer generated scenes in this look really impressive, I even didn’t mind the Beast, I know a lot of people were complaining a lot about how the Beast looks in some scenes but overall, I didn’t mind it.
When it’s recreating the original movie, most of the time, it does hold up nicely in live-action form. There are a couple of times when they add an element to it where it falls apart but we’ll talk more about that a little later on.
MOST of the music is nicely done, Alan Menken does a great job with the score for this once again. The Be Our Guest sequence is yet again, nicely done, with Ewan MacGregor doing a really spot on version of the song and visual wise, it’s as exciting and gorgeous looking as it did in the original movie. Emma Thompson’s singing of Beauty & The Beast is spot on, when she sung, I swear to god, I thought to myself, “wow, she sounds a lot like Julie Andrews singing this.” The ballroom sequence is visually impressive to look at in 3D and it perfectly captures the spirit of the original animated film. I even liked the original song, Evermore, in this.
Which leads to the last positive thing I can say for this, legitimately effective dramatic scenes especially with the appliances, the Days In The Sun sequence that takes place after Belle saves the Beast from the wolves is an effectively impressive sequence and especially towards the end, the scene where they all turn into antiques, it was very emotional to watch. I don’t think I’ve felt more for talking appliances not only since the original Beauty & The Beast but since The Brave Little Toaster.
So, yeah, there’s the positives but let’s talk about when the movie really does not work and there’s a lot:
First, the opening sequence, which is not the stained glass opening like it is in the animated film but instead, they set the scene up in real life with the cast. But the opening has so much foreshadowing and obvious ‘you get it’ points, it gets annoying. For example, there’s a scene where the castle staff is helping the prince get ready for a debutante ball and all the staff are either holding, standing, or are next to the thing they are about to be transformed into once the enchantress comes in. Cogsworth is holding a clock, Lumiere is holding a candle, the Cadenza is playing a piano, the dog is sitting on a footrest, and it’s like the movie is literally foreshadowing this in your face and it’s like, come on, we really don’t need this element to be in the movie. I have no problem with the film beginning with showing the actual story of how the beast and the staff got cursed but when you throw those obvious foreshadowed moments, it ruins the impact of what you were trying to go for.
And that takes up the first five to ten minutes of the movie and it almost took me out instantly. And then, we have problem number #2 with the movie.
Autotuned Emma Watson singing. I mean, my god, what were you guys thinking? I’m sure Emma Watson has a good singing voice but right off the bat, with the opening song which in the original, perfectly opens the movie up, gives you a good idea of the world that Belle lives in and Paige O’Hara’s singing of the opening song is pitch perfect:
I mean, I know we look at Be Our Guest, Gaston, and Beauty & The Beast, as the more memorable songs from the soundtrack but that opening song does just as important of a job setting up the film and our characters.
Now, listen to the new version:
They butcher the opening song with the autotune and I’m sorry, you can’t do that, you can’t just trick us into thinking that isn’t autotuned when you can clearly hear it. It just doesn’t flow as well as I think they wanted it to be. But to the credit of the film, it does get better on in the film when Belle is singing the songs later in the movie and the autotuning doesn’t become as much of a distraction as it does in the beginning.
I also didn’t like that they added too many lyrics to Gaston’s song at the end and nearly ruin it. When I watched the movie at first, I really didn’t like it but after listening to it again, and I did come around to the new version just a little bit more so maybe, it’s just something that will take a while for me to get used to especially considering how much I liked what they did with Le Fou in this.
The biggest problems come into play with the newer additions they make, the whole time traveling book element they bring into this. We’re already in a world where magic exists, do we really need a time traveling book to be thrown in here? And I get why they did it, they wanted to use that scene to allow a reason to develop more of Belle’s backstory with her mother but I think you could’ve done it in a better way like have the magic mirror be the portal to see what happened to her mother. With this book they add, you now have to ask the question, couldn’t the staff use this to go back in time to stop the prince from turning the enchantress away at the ball and thus, reversing everything that happens from that point on? I know they said the beast couldn’t do it himself because of the curse but now you’ve added a plothole that makes you ask more questions than answers them. But then again, we wouldn’t have a movie if they did what I just said.
Also the fact that for some reason, it snows whenever you’re near the castle. So, now, you’ve added a timetable for when this takes place especially when they say, “snow in June?” The reason why you could buy the original film’s timeline is because it’s never specified how long of a period of time it is inbetween the time Belle is taken prisoner to the time when the Beast becomes human again. It explains why it’s snowing in some scenes in the original and not in others, by setting up that it’s snowing because of the curse and the thing takes place in June, you’re taking away a lot of the mystery of the storyline. I mean it’s like showing the reason why Phil Connors kept finding himself in the same day in Groundhog Day, what makes that movie work is because you never see the reasoning behind why Phil is repeating Groundhog Day over and over again and to show why that character is reliving that day would ruin the overall goal the movie is setting, and I know that Groundhog Day did have a scene where they did explain why Phil was repeating the same day but they either never shot it or it was cut. But you get my point, by revealing more of the mystery of the curse in Beauty & The Beast, you take away a lot of the suspense and excitement.
On that same note, The obvious enchantress that appears throughout the movie instead of just in the opening. The second she came on screen, all I kept thinking to myself is, she’s gonna keep showing up throughout the movie, isn’t she? And sure enough, yes, she did. The actress who plays her, Hattie Monahan, is okay in the role but she’s not really there to do much, she doesn’t even talk in this and again, you’re taking away a lot of the suspense and the excitement when you have her showing up and not contributing anything until the very end of the movie.
But the one thing that really, really, got to me and I know a lot of people won’t mention it because it’s so brief but my god, I was mad when this happened. Dog pissing jokes….and not only a dog pissing joke but a dog pissing joke that follows a heavily emotional scene where the curse if lifted and everything is all epic and exciting as the beast turns back into a human and the castle returns to its’ former glory and then, the first thing they do the second they cut back to the antiques, show the footrest turning back into a dog and then the dog pissing on one of the other appliances. To me, that made me so mad watching that scene because not only is it a cheap childish joke to get a grossout joke in there but it’s completely inappropriate to put in there in the middle of this emotional moment where the appliances are turning back into people and it’s suppose to be this exciting moment but you ruin it when you add in a grossout joke because you think the movie is becoming stale during an emotion heavy moment. It’s a moment that insults the integrity of the original intent of that scene in the animated movie and you can just tell that was added by a Disney studio exec who had just come from another studio where they throw in grossout jokes for cheap laughs and didn’t get the subtext of that scene and thought “hey, this would be a great place to put a piss joke.”
I’m sorry if I’m spending so much time on that scene but that really made me mad when that happened and I know, so many people won’t bring it up because it’s such a short scene but I can’t help it, it really bothered me that this movie that’s suppose to be a timeless story would have such a cheap grossout joke that lazily thrown in there and they would think that nobody would see it because it’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment but I have to bring it up.
So, overall, how do I feel about this live-action Beauty & The Beast? It’s a very polarizing movie, the cast is really good, the music can be good when it’s not, the visuals are amazing, when it sticks to the original story, it’s great to see it in real life. But the added elements they throw in the film really ruin the integrity and the heart of the original story, the original movie is only 84 minutes, the live-action film is 2 hours and 9 minutes, there’s 35 minutes of added material that does not need to be in here because a lot of the newer stuff feels padded out.
The original Beauty & The Beast is such a classic pitch perfect movie. Everything about it works, it has great characters, a great voice cast, great music, a great story, and a great emotional output to it. It’s Disney at its’ absolute best.
The live-action movie is a competently made but overall pointless remake of a perfect movie, it just doesn’t have that edge that other Disney live-action movies like Maleficent, Cinderella, and especially The Jungle Book had, I’m not going to say it’s a bad movie, it’s certainly not on a level like Batman V Superman where the more I think about it the more I hate it, it’s just not the best overall movie that I think they were intending to do. The heart is definitely in the right place but the overall result is, again, a competently made but overall pointless remake of a perfect movie.
There may have been something there that wasn’t there before but maybe there was a good reason why you should’ve just kept it there.
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