Reviews: Beauty And The Beast 2017

Pathetic

From the minute this film was announced I knew it would be a disappointment, but because I love the original film I was determined to like the remake in spite of itself. Turns out, this film is so terrible I can't like it in spite of itself.

Problem 1: the cast. Not one actor suits their character. Belle's acting is wooden, Lumière is ridiculous, and Gaston isn't Gaston, he's just a guy in a costume. And what is the idea of having so many black characters? If this was set in Paris it would be slightly less jarring, but Disney expects us to believe there could be black people everywhere in 18th century rural France? This is political correctness at the cost of suspension of disbelief.

Problem 2: the songs. When you make a musical, you want actors who can sing, right? Not if you're Bill Condon. Belle's voice... to quote My Fair Lady, "I'd rather hear a choir singing flat". Gaston and the Beast are passable, but not deep enough. This rendition of "Be Our Guest" is dreadful. "Beauty and the Beast" is ruined by Emma Thompson's accent. "Tale as old as toime, song as old as roime..." Of the new songs, "Days in the Sun" and "Evermore" would be fine if sung by better singers, but there's no need for them. If Mr. Condon wanted songs not in the original, he should have turned to the stage play.

Problem 3: the character designs. WHAT WERE YOU THINKING, DISNEY? The Beast looks like an overgrown goat and the servants look nothing like their real appearances. The Magic Mirror is hilarious. It's tiny, the glass is cloudy, the edges are covered with scratches, the viewer can hardly see what it shows... yet somehow a mob can see the Beast through it.

Problem 4: the plot changes. There is no need for new characters, new subplots, or bringing back the fairy. Gaston's death is underwhelming to say the least. Instead of stabbing the Beast and getting his Laser-Guided Karma, he's nowhere near the Beast when he falls. Way to lessen the emotional impact of the Beast's "death", Disney.

Problem 5: everything else. Belle's ballgown is just a dress. What is the point of that trip to Paris? And Belle walks on top of someone's laundry. No wonder the people in town hate her. I'd be ticked off too if someone came and put their dirty shoes on my laundry. Belle is supposed to be odd, not a jerk!

Overall, a disgusting travesty. Don't bother watching this film. The original is better in every way.

Old Story, New Magic

I watched this shortly after seeing the original, so it was easy to compare.

Overall, the film is more nuanced and subtle- not a cartoon in any way, which I like. The old version is good, but I appreciate that the live-action approach made for deeper writing as well.

Belle? Emma Watson does a decent job with her, though the role itself isn't as strong as it should be in either version. I prefer the impassioned spirit of the original, as Emma sometimes seems as if she's reading off a script instead of acting from the heart, and if Disney's claims that she wasn't autotuned are true, she has a remarkable talent for sounding processed (I cannot find behind-the-scenes of her recording her songs...hm). But she has plenty of sweet moments with her father and the Beast, and definitely has her moments of toughness.

Beast is still adorable, but Dan Stevens plays him more like an awkward intellectual than an excitable dork. He does "scary" well, too.

Gaston is subtler here, but he's still quite despicable in ways unique to this version. LeFou is more sympathetic, being hopelessly in love with Gaston and later figuring out where his loyalties should lie.

All of the servants are charming, and the new actors do a great job. Lumiere and Cogsworth have switched vocal personalities in a way I quite like- Ewan McGregor's Lumiere now has a lighter, more youthful (and less French) energy that suits his character's age and personality, and the stuffy, very-accented voice now goes to Cogsworth by way of Ian McKellen, which really works for the uptight clock; the old British voice is perfect.

The visuals are the main draw here, and they're fantastic. The aesthetic is more grand and ornate, and the servants are more plausible and opulent designs rather than the almost jarring simplicity of the original. The Beast is a bit more human, but that doesn't lessen his impact to me. Every design is spot-on, providing something very new that works with the older look. "Be Our Guest" is spectacular under a realistic lens, and that it jars so with the rest is entirely to its benefit.

The plot is fine, with a few nice adjustments and elaborations on the original. Part of me feels like they tried too hard to fill every plot hole, because the Belle's-mother subplot could have been dropped, and some more time could have gone to the titular romance developing.

The music, save for Emma, who does try, is all top-notch and performed with great skill. There are a few new songs, which are all good additions, but some of them aren't full-length numbers and don't really add to the scene. "Evermore", however, is powerful and perfect for this Beast— sure to get Menken another nomination for Best Original Song in a Disney production of BatB.

Overall, this is a very enjoyable film with flair, humor, heart, and pure magic that makes it worth a watch. I personally think I prefer most of it to the original, but that's just my opinion.

An average, if pointless, remake

This film is far from a worthy successor to the original animated film. Although fixing certain plot holes/confusions are welcome, at the same time, it presents a host of its own errors. They show the event where the Enchantress curses those present at the castle, but it never shows exactly what made her decide to pay the Prince a visit. This could have been easily fixed by her telling him that she could no longer sit idly by as he dejected the poor.

They made Gaston a war hero but he really should have been a marquis since that "suck up potential" lasts longer. Gaston is initially a villain but one of his charms was that he descended into villainy and started off as almost an anti-hero. The villagers are downright malicious, matching Gaston's own Anti-Intellectualism. It just felt really unnecessary and forced. Le Fou's pointless gayness amounts to "wink, nudge" moments in the final film. He's supposed to be Gaston's lackey, not his maid.

The plot takes a halt to focus on a small subplot about Belle's mother. Although it's nice to know what happened to her, at the same time, a teleportation atlas is used to resolve it; just seems like makers could have executed it better without using something so powerful for one mundane thing.

There were also certain miscastings. Luke Evans doesn't have the physique for Gaston and just looks average compared to his animated counterpart. Le Fou should have been played by someone vertically-challenged. E. Mc Gregor's Maurice Chevalier Accent wasn't endearing. They'd have been better off hiring an actual Frenchman for the role. Recasting Cogsworth was pointless since D.O. Stiers would have been equally excellent in the role he could have reprised.

The CGI is stunning, but there's a problem. Because this is live-action the servants had to look like actual objects, which means that they can't emote like their animated counterparts.

The set design, and especially costume design, are the film's best features. Both are brimming with influence from the Baroque period. It's like the designers were having the time of their lives. That being said, the powdered wigs, and makeup in the opening, felt like too much even if they are historically accurate.

The problem with Le Fou's switching sides is that he joins magically animate objects. There's no reason why he would join embodiments of "black magic" as he was part of the same mob singing "We don't like what we don't understand in fact it scares us." The ensuing battle was executed far better in the animated film with the servants going all out to defend their home. Gaston vs Beast was also done better in the original as not only was there more dramatic weight to it, but the lighting was better as well. In this remake, it's so dark that a good amount of viewers will likely have a hard time making out the action. Gaston stupidly fights from a stationary point while the castle is crumbling around him.

In the end, you're better off seeing the original cartoon.
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