Review- Beauty and the Beast
Welcome to a Pipin’ hot review of Beauty and the Beast! Last year, Disney had a critical and commercial hit on its hand with the live-action retelling of the company’s classic animation, The Jungle Book. This year, Disney hopes to recreate that success with a live-action retelling of the first animated film ever to be nominated for an Oscar, Beauty and the Beast.
When a young and naïve girl is taken prisoner by a fearsome beast-like man in his castle, it’s up to her to look beyond physical appearances and find the core of humanity inside the beast, in this musical romantic dark fantasy. Let’s see if this re-telling lives up to the original classic:
- The actors are all competent in their roles. Emma Watson is still hanging on to the earnest schoolgirl routine she had perfected during Harry Potter, but it serves her well in her new role as the bookish Belle. The Beast, played by Dan Stevens, avoids looking like a CGI yeti thanks to the actor’s expressive eyes and physical acting skills. But it’s really the rest of the talented cast of actors who bring the story to life, whether it’s the team-up of Luke Evans and Josh Gad as the antagonists, or the range of noted thespians, from Ian Mckellan to Ewan Mcgregor who make up the beast’s animated furniture staff. (4 Stars)
You Know You’re Fancy when your Clock’s Won a Tony Award
- The set designs are spectacular. Director Bill Condon makes sure the lavish, dreamlike quality of the original animation gets translated well to live-action settings. The production team took great pains to bring the world of the original animation to life, and the effort clearly shows. In any other CGI-heavy film, it can be difficult to pay attention to the humans in a particular frame, but here Condon makes sure every special effect is made to serve the story instead of being there just for show, and the talented actors who voice all the animated characters make sure your attention is focused on their humanity rather than their computer generated exteriors. (5 Stars)
Which doesn’t Stop you Wondering whether the Film is, in fact, Promoting Bestiality
What Doesn’t Work
- Music is any film musical’s life-blood, but Beauty and the Beast provides the audience with some distinctly mediocre tunes that serve more to make you wish the story would get on with the plot rather than enjoy the musical interludes. While one or two of the songs do pop thanks to some dazzling choreography, most of them were done better in the original, and the songs that have been freshly added are nowhere near the same quality. (2.5 Stars)
The Stupid Hairstyles Don’t Help
- The story is virtually identical to the original, which is strange since the live-action remake is 40 minutes longer than the animated film was. Much of the extended screen time is given to solving the mystery of Belle’s missing mother, a question that no one in the audience wanted an answer to, and which does nothing to add to the narrative as a whole. Man, they could have spent the extra screen time answering more pressing questions, like whether the toilet in the Beast’s castle is also an animated former servant who starts singing just as you’re about to use it. (1 Stars)
Don’t be Disgusting. I’m the Beast. I poop in the forest.
Average Rating: 3.1 Stars
Beauty and the Beast would have probably been more successful if La La Land hadn’t released so close before it and shown what a truly well-made musical can do within the genre. Whereas La La Land went to great lengths to infuse a pedestrian storyline with dazzling direction and clever use of film-musical tropes, Beauty and the Beast’s insistence on playing it safe results in a disappointingly by-the-books musical.
There’s an attempt to be more inclusive with the addition of an interracial kiss or two, and a gay character joins the cast, but the throwaway scene revealing the character’s sexual orientation feels like a throwaway gesture that has no bearing on the rest of the plot, and for that reason feels like just another case of ticking off the points on a politically correct checklist.
All in all, this film will probably appeal the most to fans of the original Disney classic. The film is a pleasant enough experience if you’re a fan of the genre, but it likely won’t find the explosive commercial popularity of a Frozen, or the critical acclaim that greeted La La Land. It might seem unfair that I keep comparing this film to others that have come before, but when the entire film is virtually a shot-for-shot remake of a beloved classic, such comparisons become inevitable, and lead you to one inevitable conclusion: there’s nothing here that hasn’t been done before, and done better, by earlier films.
So what are your expectations from the film? Are you going to go to the theaters solely to ogle Emma Watson, or are you a fan of the original Disney animation and want to see the remake do justice to it? Join the conversation in the comments below!
This is a guest post by Neeraj Chand Who blogs at Some Thoughts and Things.
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