Beauty and the Beast

Jack Brink

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Rating: PG

Score: 4 out of 10

Beauty and the Beast was released on March 17, 2017, and while it both looks and sounds great, it unfortunately misses the mark when it comes to trying to match the charm and personality of the original animated version of the film.

You know the story, it is a tale as old as time… A young prince is cursed and transformed into the hideous Beast (Dan Stevens), after an act of rudeness to an enchantress, and has until the last rose pedal falls on an enchanted rose to find true love. His last chance comes in the form of Belle (Emma Watson), a bibliophile and freethinking beauty who arrives at the Beast’s castle to save her father Maurice (Kevin Kline) who had been kidnapped by him. As Belle takes her father’s place in the Beast’s cell, they soon begin to fall for one another, thanks to the help of the servants of the castle who have been transformed into living furniture under the curse, such as the candle Lumière (Ewan McGregor), the clock Cogsworth (Ian McKellen), and the teapot Mrs. Potts (Emma Thompson). The only thing standing in the way of their happiness is the misogynistic war hero Gaston (Luke Evans), who has gone absolutely mad at the idea of Belle rejecting him, along with his bumbling, yet good-hearted sidekick Lefou (Josh Gad), and the mob of angry village people who refuse to understand Belle’s forward thinking ideas and absolutely refuse to accept the Beast as anything other than a monster.

Being produced by Disney, this film would always have two things working for it, the first being a great aesthetic and the second being an absolute stellar selection of songs. The scenery and cinematography are on point, with the film nailing the feel of the French village of the original movie. The redesigns of the characters such as the furniture servants are great as well, and really bring these classic characters into a new life. Disney wisely keeps in the masterpiece selection of songs from the original animated film, and adds some new songs that definitely feel at place with the original’s (“Evermore” comes to mind).  Fears definitely need to be put to bed when it comes to Watson’s ability to match Belle’s wonderful voice, as she, and all the cast members do phenomenal when it’s time to put their pipes to the test.

This is what makes it so disappointing about how the film turned out, because a movie with so much personality when it comes to appearance and sound shockingly lacks all personality when it comes to actual story. Disney thankfully stays true to the plot of the original, but has to extend the run time to justify a live action version, which means they should have been able to use that time to expand on character’s relationships and personalities. Somehow, Disney seems to do the opposite of this, as the characters feel blander than they did in the original.

The servants largely feel like they lost the character they originally possessed, especially Lumière and Cogsworth, who really seem to be missing the charming, antagonistic attitude toward one another that made them so memorable in the original. Maurice loses his fun quirkiness of the original, which makes it hard to understand how he is the “kooky old man” the village thinks he is. Belle and the Beast’s relationship does not develop enough at all and happens far too fast, making it near impossible to accept their relationship considering how she was basically his slave ten minutes ago. This is how it happens in the original also, but it is unforgivable here considering the padded run time.

The extra time in the film seems to instead have been used to add more backstory to Belle and the Beast that no one really wanted. I will not go into detail and spoil them, but these scenes definitely could have been removed and it would not have negatively affected the film in any way.

While Watson and the rest of the cast fail to deliver the presence the animated movie’s cast had, there are two highlights to this film, that being Gad’s Lefou and Evans’ Gaston. These two combined seem to have more personality than the rest of the film (which is sad considering there is a singing teapot in it). They are wonderfully over the top, and everything they needed to be. Lefou is treated much better this time around, gaining more of a persona than just being Gaston’s biggest fan. He gets a whole bunch of new scenes and gets a complete character arc, being this version of Beauty and the Beast’s most complex character. Evans is great as Gaston, perfectly matching Gaston’s arrogant and overall complete jerk life style. “Gaston” is easily the most fun song in the entire film, which is not surprising considering it is just five minutes of Lefou being as extra and excited as possible while Gaston gets to sing his own praises. Gaston is personally my favorite Disney villain, so I am very happy that the film was able to bring him and his sidekick to life in such a big way. I just wish they could have done the same with the film’s other characters.

While its music is great and the film is fun to look at, Beauty and the Beast sadly falters when it comes to adding onto the story and depth of the original film, which was its most important job. It unfortunately feels like another unnecessary remake. Which is, my friends, a true tale as old as time.

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Beauty and the Beast