Beauty and the Beast (Review)

Beauty and the Beast (Review)

The live action Cinderella was better.

The 1991 animated classic Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorite animated films ever.  When I heard that Disney was adapting the animated film into a live-action film, as they’ve been doing recently, I was excited but also skeptical.  Previous live-action remakes of classic Disney films have been hit or miss for me.  Maleficent was all kinds of bizarre though it had it’s moments and the same could be said about Cinderella.  So I went in expecting the film to be average at best.

I was wrong.  All this film did was appreciate how much of a masterpiece the original animated film was, which is saying something since this film is pretty much a shot for shot remake of that one.

Something positive first.  Many of the casting choices were very enjoyable.  Kevin Kline as Maurice brings something unique to the movie.  While eccentric, there’s a sensitivity to him as well as a hidden sorrow that makes him a sympathetic and intriguing character.  Though his French (?) accent is…questionable, Ewan McGregor really shines as Lumiere, the charismatic candlestick.  In fact, my favorite characters in the film were all the side characters, who performed their roles splendidly, if underused.

Unfortunately, this is not enough to save the film from it’s main problem: it’s adherence to the original animated film.  Everything that happens in the film happens because it happened in the animated film to the point that when they do change something, it no longer makes any sense as a whole.  For instance, when Belle is singing about how she wants more in life, she’s sings the final part on a wide open hill behind her house.  In the film, her house is within the town limits, so when she goes to the wide open hill, it’s literally looks like it’s 5 miles away from her home.

It got to the point where I honestly felt like I was just watching the original animated movie all over again.  I didn’t pay money for a theater ticket just to watch a movie I own on blu-ray at home.  For all it’s faults, at least Cinderella actually did something different with the film adaptation.

Speaking of, they even pulled the same stunt they did with Cinderella in a way.  Whereas in Cinderella, the milked the dress shot for all it’s worth, in Beauty and the Beast, they milk the songs for all their worth to the point where I actually think they slowed down the beats of the song to really get their money’s worth and left me getting bored.  Sure it’s the songs that I love but they’re sung so poorly that I just didn’t care.  Plus, it didn’t help that the first song that Emma Watson sings was just so auto-tuned that I couldn’t not hear it throughout.  And I knew that they were only singing/miming the songs because that’s what was in the original.

Which is a shame, because when the film deviates from the source material, it starts to become interesting.  I will say that the brand new song, “Evermore” is by far the best and most heartwrenching song in the film.  They added a small plotline talking about Belle and the Beast’s parents that I hoped would go somewhere.  A shared experience is a great way to get two people to understand each other.  Alas, it goes nowhere because they need to get to the dress (which reminded me of a plastic Barbie doll dress) and the dance.

I really wanted something new and different with this film.  A different take on the classic story that I love.  What I got was a shot-for-shot remake of the classic story that just left me sad.  None of the scenes had any impact on me because I had seen it done better before in the original.  I wasn’t singing along to any of the songs because they were all done better in the original.  I know I should try to judge a film on it’s own merits, but it’s so hard to do so when this film relies so hard on nostalgia from the original.  I know I’m in the minority (if Rotten Tomatoes is to be believed) and if you think you’ll enjoy this film, then go ahead and watch it.  I hope you do enjoy it more than I did.