Because The Jungle Book made a metric shit-ton of money last year, a live-action remake of the animated classic Beauty And The Beast was bound to happen. So here we are with the expensive alternative to buying a DVD of the first animated movie to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars.
To save her father from certain death, Belle (Emma Watson) takes his place as the prisoner of the Beast (Dan Stevens) – a mysterious monster cursed to such a fate. Over time, Belle and the Beast begin to develop feelings for each other, as dangerous forces that threaten their lives begin to grow in power.
Given how popular the original is, Beauty And The Beast may have easily been one of the most cynically made movies to ever hit the big screen, but thankfully, it’s more than just a glorified cash-grab. Just don’t expect it to be a classic any time soon.
New Age Fairy Tales
For those who went into Beauty And The Beast looking for a fancy trip down memory lane, the remake doesn’t disappoint. The cast give it their all despite a weak script, the musical numbers are on point for the most part even if the actors aren’t the best singers out there and even if their singing is almost nigh incomprehensible thanks to the loud background noise and bad sound editing, and the whole movie is just fucking gorgeous to look at.
From a technical standpoint, Beauty And The Beast does its job of bringing a memorable story to new life with living, breathing human beings and special effects. The movie takes advantage of today’s best computer effects to show just how fantastical it would be to live in a version of France where an incredibly vindicative hobo can be more powerful than God for some undisclosed reason.
Though the graphics aren’t anything new, especially in a decade where orgies of special effects are a must in blockbusters, they still suck viewers into its magical romance. They may look lifelike, but the sentient household items and the Beast are as realistic as characters rendered in a tech demo reel, not a truly immersive movie. For comparison’s sake, Davy Jones (Bill Nighy) from Pirates Of The Caribbean looked more believable than the Beast.
But for those who were wondering what new things the live-action adaptation brings to the table, only good intentioned disappointments await them. Beauty And The Beast may look stunning, but there’s not much else to it, despite how exquisite and ridiculously expensive the wrapping it came in may be.
Be Kind, Don’t Rewind
Beauty And The Beast may be an animated classic, but it’s far from perfect. Not only did it skimp over some much needed characterization, but it had a lot of unfortunate implications that have become the stuff of memes and overly-analytical jokes to this very day (i.e.Stockholm Syndrome, etc.). Most of these could be forgiven since the original is an old-school animated movie, meaning a lot of corners had to be cut.
The live-action adaptation had the chance to rectify these errors and go to places an animated children’s movie would be restricted from even talking about. But that would be expecting too much from a cinematic fairy tale that only wanted to mesmerize audiences with a romance that accidentally legitimized furry porn and haunted furniture with the capability to sing and dance.
To catch up with the times, Beauty And The Beast incorporates contemporary social themes, such as: feminism, the importance of education, independence, the (VERY relevant) faults of populism and even a gay LeFou (Josh Gad) that is somehow more offensive than a woman fucking a fanged beast-man thing. As admirable and noble as they were, these additions do nothing for the plot because they are unceremoniously dropped the moment Belle gets it on with the Beast. After being shown for a single scene in the opening act, these themes are glossed over and forgotten in favor of simply recreating iconic scenes from the 1991 original.
These additions not only needlessly pad, but they also condescend on viewers, even if unintentionally. There’s a crippling lack of subtlety in the new Beauty And The Beast, and this takes some of the magic away. The remake explains everything without leaving anything to the imagination. Instead of deepening the story’s players, revelations about dead parents and daddy issues serve as cheap excuses for shitty behaviors and quirks rather than compelling backstories. Part of what made the animated feature a classic is the amount of unspoken subtext it had, something that the remake lost in translation.
This is because, despite the attempts to modernize the story, Beauty And The Beast doesn’t aspire to do anything outside of recapturing the magic of a 26 year old cartoon. All it does is try to repeat what the original already did – only now with people and even lazier than any motherfucker in the Filipino congress.
Expensive Musical Re-Runs
Remakes are not inherently bad, since there really are some old cinematic ideas and stories worth revisiting. Beauty And The Beast may not join the likes of Nicolas Cage’s hilariously horrid The Wicker Man (2005) revival, but it’s the kind of remake whose existence begs a lot of questions.
Whereas last year’s The Jungle Book brought a surprising sense of maturity and mystery to its animated predecessor, the new Beauty And The Beast only brings a multi-million Dollar budget and too many well-intentioned ideas that go nowhere. On paper, Beauty And The Beast may have looked like the fairy tale meant for today’s audiences. In practice, the remake only reminds viewers of everything that made the original so beloved in the first place.
Though entertaining, Beauty And The Beast is too concerned with reliving its glory days and trying to be hip instead of being its own strong, independent musical and still wholly unnecessary. It may be decent and passable on its own, but it bears the heavy burden of forever being compared to an unforgettable animated feature.
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