Dec 27, 2017

Posted by in Criticism, Movies, Review | 0 Comments

Disney ruined Beauty and the Beast [review]

Disney ruined Beauty and the Beast [review] (1 / 5)

When I first saw the trailer for the live action version of Disney’s classic Beauty and the Beast, I frowned. Unlike Jungle Book, this was clearly intended to be a scene-by-scene remake of the animated movie, and I didn’t see the point of that. Why would anyone be interested in it? First of all, the original was nearly perfect as it was. Secondly, the characters and the songs were clearly made for animation, where everything is expected to go way over the top. You can’t just translate that to live action. It will either be creepy or just stiff.
And sure enough, this movie manages to be both of those things. The menacing, animalistic quality of the beast is completely gone. Instead, he just looks a bit sad and bored.
The castle servants have lost all of their expressiveness. Lumière and Cogsworth (the candelabra and the clock) were charming in the original precisely because they were cartoon characters, with huge eyes and unrealistic movements. In this version, they really are just objects that talk. Granted, the CGI is well done in the sense that it looks ‘real’, but that is completely missing the point. Take the opening of the song Be Our Guest. In the original, Lumière had this hilarious overconfident smile as he announced dinner. Here, we just get a talking candlestick.

Again, the question is raised: why was this necessary? Why do we need to see these obviously inherently cartoonish characters look like realistic objects? It adds nothing to the story, the character, the humour or any part of the experience. I saw Wesley Tomsky’s review on YouTube, and he said something to the effect of “I liked Ewan McGregor as the candle and Ian McKellen as the clock”, which made me laugh. I don’t know who provided the voices for the original, but they did a great job. Why do we need these A-list names to play these mundane objects? And as big a fan as I am of McKellen’s Gandalf, he is completely miscast and wasted here. Original Cogsworth was grumpy, stuck-up, fussy and lovable. 2017’s Cogsworth is just grumpy. McKellen’s Gandalf voice does not belong here. Ewan McGregor fares better as Lumière, but he is hardly recognisable behind his French accent anyway. Why cast these guys? Because they’re famous, I suppose.

Okay, so the living furniture falls flat. What about the rest of the cast? Let’s start with the heroine. I don’t know any other way to say this: Emma Watson’s Belle is horrendous. First, there is the characterisation. Original Belle was absent-minded, naïve, imaginative, intelligent, charming and friendly. We are told by the movie that Watson’s version is all of those things, but instead she just comes across as snooty and aloof. Her performance is as bland as cardboard. And then there’s the singing. It’s the most painfully obvious case of auto-tuning imaginable. It sounds really computery. They might as well have cast someone from the planet Xerox. We have excellent cybernetic voice computer implants on our home planet.

“Bleep – boop – bleep!”

Other characters have their issues as well. Gaston used to be a hilariously over the top villain. Here he actually starts out as pretty likable. Then all of a sudden, he turns into a guy so evil that he has to think of war and bloodshed to soothe his nerves during stressful moments.
There was a lot of talk online on how they made LeFou a gay character to tick some progressive boxes. Of course, then they realised that LeFou was originally a bad guy so they gave him a change of heart because you obviously can’t have a gay bad guy. The end result is something that just feels unfunny and out of place. Other than that, there is not much to say about LeFou.
Speaking of ticking progressive boxes, I thought it was hilarious that almost half the cast in this movie is black, considering that it takes place in a rural area in 18th century France, and of course, a black man is the only one who just looks troubled and concerned when Gaston riles up the villagers to go kill the beast instead of going along with it. The level of utopianism, revisionism and naïveté behind it all just takes on laughable proportions.

Belle’s father, played by Kevin Kline, is now a tender-hearted artist rather than a bumbling inventor, and he considers his daughter to be ‘ahead of her time’. To me, it comes across as more of the same progressive posturing.
There are a few new songs in the movie, none of which are as good as any of the existing ones.
All in all, 2017’s Beauty and the Beast introduces precisely zero improvements to the original. It’s a weird, anachronistic, flat and dull movie that still managed to rake in the dollars and the critical acclaim based mostly on nostalgia and pandering to progressive ideologies , just like the new Star Wars. If this is what Disney is going for from now on, I have to warn them: people are already catching on and getting tired of it. They won’t keep coming back.

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