Back in 2017 Disney returned with another live-action adaptation of one of their animated films. This time it was up to Beauty and the Beast to be remade and please the audience. But if we look at the final product that the film is, it seems to be that Disney did it more for the money than for the audience. Will the audience end up roaring for the new film or will it just be Disney happily roaring their victory over their audience? I think we all know the answer to that question.
Beauty and the Beast is directed by Bill Condon (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part I). The film tells the tale of Belle (Emma Watson, Harry Potter Franchise & Little Women), who is a young adult that loves to read books. She also dreams of playing a part in the adventures that are depicted on those pages. But when she leaves her small village to find her missing father (Kevin Kline, A Fish Called Wanda), she encounters a large castle in which lives a horrifying Beast (Dan Stevens, Legion). As Belle stays with the Beast, she learns that true beauty is found within.
Right from the beginning, the film wants to make very clear what kind of a jerk the Beast was before he came a Beast. In the original animated film, they spend a short monologue on the case. However, in this live-action adaptation they take more then a few minutes to make it clear that the Beast is a jerk. The problem is not that it is not well done, because making the Beast look arrogant is something the movie does is quite well. The problem is that right from the beginning one of our main characters is an unlikeable prick, which crate a situation wherein you cannot root for the Beast to become normal again.
You want him to stay a Beast, because that’s what he honestly deserves to be. He acts like a Beast for the first two acts of the movie. Then the filmmakers remembered that the Beast also must become a human at the end. So they quickly shoved moments in the movie trying to make the Beast look less like a prick and more like a misunderstood young adult. In the original animated film, the Beast had a compelling arc. In this film he does have an arc, but it’s not compelling because the Beast is arrogant throughout most of the film and acts like a prick to everyone around him. The arc is also rushed to the point that it makes you care even less for the Beast.
Do you want examples of how much of a prick the Beast is? Well, the Beast doesn’t even give Belle a minute to say goodbye to her father. The Beast keeps correcting and interrupting Belle. The Beast wouldn’t give Belle a room. The Beast forces Belle to eat with him and lets her starve when she says she won’t eat with him etc. The thing with this movie is that they like to exaggerate everything the original did, to the point that this movie feels more like a dark cartoon then the original did.
The scriptwriters Stephen Chbosky (Wonder) and Evan Spiliotopoulos (The Hunstman: Winter’s War) also try to add new story elements to the script. There is a new back-story about how both Belle and the Beast lost their mothers and it adds nothing new to the story. The scriptwriters probably did this trying to make the Beast, look more sympathetic and to give Belle an arc. Only thing is that the new back-story doesn’t make the Beast look more sympathetic, he still comes across, as a bitter young adult and Belle never gets a conclusion to her arc. Her mother died when she was just a baby. Belle never knew her mother and this has had a great impact on her. However when she finally finds out, what happened to her mother, the subplot is quickly moved aside to continue the main story. Her arc is never resolved or even started to be honest. It just a waste of time.
The script also tries to give Belle more personality. They did this by making her amazing in everything. She is good in reading, good with children, good in teaching, good in inventing, good in drawing, good in taming wild beasts (get it?). However, as expected, being good in everything doesn’t count as a trademark for a character. She isn’t Leonardo Da Vinci. Belle is a dreamer, who gets inspired by the books she reads. Belle is intellectual. Indeed. But in this movie they exaggerated her intelligence to the point that this Belle feels more like a cartoon character then her animated counterpart.
There are also some continuity errors. Belle and Phillipe, the horse, move like the Flash when needed. Belle just arrives shortly after the villagers arrive at the castle, while the villagers had a big head start. The sound effects are also sometimes off in the final battle. Oh right, forgot. To please the immature and the children, the movie also includes butt and poop jokes. Yay! The CGI in this film is, in contrary to the beautiful The Jungle Book, more creepy than fantasy provoking. Nobody wants to see a CGI teapot smiling. They created some nice nightmare related visuals for the younger kids. Can’t wait to see this on a childhood trauma list.
Not everything is bad though. The acting is on point. Especially Gaston (Luke Evans, Midway) is like-able, which feels weird because he’s supposed to be villain of the film. Don’t worry, because for this first half of the film Gaston comes across as a normal, somewhat dimwitted, individual, but in the second half, he leaves Maurice for the wolves stuck at a tree. Something the animated Gaston would probably also be able to do. The Gaston song is also very amusing. There is actually an illiterate joke in there that works. The song also contains one exciting, maybe little expectable, but still amusing shot.
In the end, Beauty and the Beast, is another Disney remake that is poorly executed and is solely done for the money. This movie in particular felt more like a cash grab than the other Disney movies. That is probably because the effect of the original is still untouched by other Disney movies. It is the only animated movie to be nominated for best picture. It is one of the most well known Disney movies. These were the reasons for which Disney thought that their live-action version could earn some big money. Sadly, it did. Overall, it’s not a complete failure. There are some genuine emotional moments. Some new interesting ideas, that all don’t workout however. And sometimes a joke works. But in the end, the movie is still pretty bad, mostly thanks to the poor script.