"#Beauty and the Beast" holds a special place for aspiring adults of a certain age. #Disney decided to take the risk, however, and turn virtually every animated classic for the 20-somethings into a live action film in the coming years. Their latest dive provides a visually enhanced retelling of a wonderful movie, but it doesn't do much to push the envelope forward.
About 'Beauty and the Beast'
"Beauty and the Beast" is a musical romance and fantasy film.
It's obviously based on the 1991 animated film, which in turn is based on an old fairy tale. Directed by Bill Condon, the movie was released on March 17, 2017. The plot doesn't differ greatly from the original movie. Maurice, the father of the strange village girl Belle, is taken by a beast in a hidden castle, leading Belle to take his place as the beast's prisoner. Over time, she begins to fall for her captor, sharing a mutual love of books and knowledge. Gaston has his sights set on Belle, though, and won't rest until she is his - even if that means killing her beloved beast.
Overacting and underacting
At the end of the day, "Beauty and the Beast" is very charming. It's the same old story, just told with real human beings - kind of. There were only four main humans throughout the brunt of the film, with everything else being mostly CGI. At that point, there was no point in really turning it into a live-action film.
The biggest acting responsibility in the movie belonged to Emma Watson, of "Harry Potter" fame.
Many critics took aim at her singing ability, but being Belle doesn't necessitate being an operatic singer; her performance is comparable to that of Emma Stone in "La La Land," with slightly better vocals. Her charm, however, didn't come forward in her trademark eponymous song. At times, Belle seemed to be lacking any personality or poise whatsoever.
That is, until she met the beast, played by Dan Stevens. The relatively unknown actor provided a commanding presence, due in part to his otherworldly appearance. The quality of his voice took on a strange autotune sound, but his booming baritone voice served well in the song "Evermore."
All the antiques that come to life in the movie look visually stunning, but they are very obviously made in CGI. That being said, the casting was precise, with each little object taking on a strong personality of their own, from the theatrical candlestick to the motherly teapot.
Much was made about the character LeFou and his sexuality in the movie.
At first, it seemed like the producers/writers were going to play it right: the story isn't that LeFou is gay, the story is that LeFou is LeFou and his sexuality is just another part of him, not his defining quality. In the song "Gaston," however, LeFou was turned into the prototypical stereotype that has dogged the LGBT community for too long. It was not the right way to handle the character.
The backstory given to Belle didn't really seem important to the story. Less time should've been spent on that, with more time being spent on how beauty actually falls for the beast. The change in heart is so sudden that the idea of Stockholm Syndrome comes to mind.
Meanwhile, the most beautiful scene of the whole movie comes at the end. While not every human being fits the magical image created by the object they once were, the transformation is truly magical, as their world moves from darkness to light. It was certainly a neat way to wrap up the movie.
"Beauty and the Beast" is a fun and familiar romp through the fairy tale, but doesn't do much to evolve from the classic animated movie. The world is beautiful and stunning, with music and dialogue that is familiar, if not elevated from the original. Some things are best left alone, a lesson Disney is hopefully learning right now.
Rating: B. #MovieReview