I think it’s safe to say that the majority of you out there have at least heard of 1991’s Disney Classic Beauty and the Beast. The inspirational story of Belle and her journey towards loving the unnamed but unforgettable Beast. If you haven’t seen this animated masterpiece then please put your device down, look in the mirror and ask yourself where your life went so horribly wrong because it is undeniably one of the best overall movies of the last 30 years – in my opinion.
After the success of Cinderella and The Jungle Book, it came as no surprise really that Disney green lit a live action “reimagining” of the film considered by many to be the embodiment of moviemaking perfection. With a cast boasting talents such as Sir Ian McKellen, Ewan McGregor, Emma Watson and Emma Thompson, it’s difficult again to not get excited for something potentially capable of re-ticking the boxes filled by its original counterpart.
The 2017 remake of the aforementioned Disney Classic tells the exact same story as before. Belle, a reclusive introvert, (Emma Watson) discovers her father has been imprisoned with no apparent way of escaping. On finally arriving at the cell in which the Beast has detained her father, Belle parlays her own subservience for the life of the only parent she has left. Reluctantly, but albeit optimistically, the Beast accepts, removing him from the situation as quickly as he arrived.
Meanwhile, in the generic French Village location, antagonist Gaston bullishly parades around town declaring his undying love for Belle by rubbing it in the face of everyone within earshot, much to the chagrin of a number of lusting suitors. His arrogance and narcissism leads Gaston to the much maligned father of Belle, a man over-wrought with the fear of what may be happening to his daughter at the hands of the Beast. Gaston, disproves the Father’s claims of a Beast living in a castle somewhere deep in the woods, eventually leaving him out there tied to a tree for the Wolves to devour.
By the time of Act 3, both Belle and the Beast have seemingly overcome the differences between each other, danced to that song and by all accounts had a fairly enjoyable time. It’s just a shame that none of this joy appeared on the screen. The climax unfortunately felt very forced (how I’ll never know), in the animated film Gaston wants to prove to Belle that he is better than this Beast by being the sophisticated man he parades around as. This version’s Gaston felt less of a Beast and more of a delusional moron, more concerned with cucking Josh Gad’s Le Fou than with being the man Belle clearly desires.
The main problem with Beauty and the Beast is that this was a page for page remake of the original. What made Jungle Book interesting was that it didn’t follow the plot of it’s origin, it made decisions that shocked the viewer. At no point did Beauty and the Beast break new ground in terms of story. At no point does the viewer feel the stakes of the drama unfolding before them, just a colourful CGI heavy “live action” rehash of something we all loved as children.
Round 1 Score: 5/10
ROUND 2 – Characters
The rumour at the time was that Emma Watson turned down playing the role of Mia in La La Land to play the character of Belle in Beauty and the Beast instead. Without speaking to her directly I cannot begin to guess her logic for making this decision. However what I can surmise is that Watson wanted to play an independent character not shaken by the shackles placed upon by the mundane normality of life. A character dreaming of something far outreaching the realms of modern perception, stopping at no end to achieve these goals. Yet somehow she ended up as Belle?
Ok I’ll admit I’m exaggerating slightly, however what I’m trying to say in no uncertain terms is that whatever strengths Watson wanted to portray in Belle seem to be lost in her performance. Her singular attitude and indomitable spirit in the face of adversity seems diluted in comparison to the one from 1991. I’m not saying she wasn’t enjoyable, I just sometimes struggled to connect the dots between the deliberate character traits.
The remaining cast, in all of their glory, didn’t ever really hit the heights I was expecting either. In the original (I know I keep going back to it, but if you’re going to remake it then you are going to have to expect comparisons) the supporting cast do exactly that, support. This cast for one reason or another hardly ever does that. The disassociation between CGI characters such as Cogsworth and Lumiere was lost from the moment they were introduced. Again this is no jab at their entertainment, it’s just that something didn’t feel right watching an actual clock and candelabra bicker like scorned lovers. Call me silly but I’d have preferred a little less realism in all honesty.
Dan Stevens as the Beast was fine, he did well with what little facial expressions he could offer. Unfortunately I felt as though his chemistry with Watson was nonexistent. At no point did I feel growing desire between these two. It just felt more like Watson pitying her captor to the point of romance.
Luke Evans looked like he was having the time of his life as Gaston giving the scene he appeared in that added level of accessibility. Josh Gad as Le Fou was interesting adaptation of the original, one that I think added an element to the story otherwise lacking before. However I dis miss a little bit of that goofy nonchalance from before, sorry Josh.
Round 2 Score – 5/10
ROUND 3 – Overall Enjoyment
What sets Disney films apart from the others is its innate ability to grab an audience member by the scruff of the neck and take them on an adventure regardless of age/gender/creed. Their passion for entertainment is unquestionable l, as is their desire to create original ideas such as Inside Out and Moana (creative licence permitting of course). So you can imagine my emotions when Beauty and the Beast turned out to be a fairly flat affair with no real element ever forcing me from the stitching of my seat.
I’m not saying I disliked Beauty and the Beast, but in Wrestling there is the belief that if you can draw a reaction from a crowd, be it positive or negative then at least you have made some form of impact on them personally. The most feared prospect is one of complete dissolution. Beauty and the Beast draws that emotion out of me. I didn’t hate it, I didn’t love it, I merely experienced it and moved on to something else.
Admittedly, I did enjoy the songs, and the choreography was fine, considering it was mostly created on a computer. But only because it reminded me of the original not for the merits of those hard working professionals working on this film.
Round 3 Score – 5/10
Beauty and the Beast entered in to this with lofty ambitions of proving its worth above what is already a highly regarded source material. Unfortunately, as many cover artists will tell you, you cannot beat the original. This remake, and regardless of what anyone says, it’s a remake, fails to entertain in any way as much as you’d hope for. A solid meh for film I don’t think anyone really asked to see in the first place.
Beauty and the Beast wins by Decision 15/30