You know, I really can’t take any more of these freaking live-action remakes. Don’t give me that look. You and I both know that they are unnecessary cash grabs that (for some reason) keep making money and stopping new scripts from being produced in the process. I am not one of these people who complain that these movies ruined my childhood (the Internet did that long before mainstream media did), nor am I one of those people who believe that all movies that get a remake are the worst thing ever. One of my top 15 favorite movies of all time is John Carpenter’s The Thing; a remake made by an artist who loved the original and improved upon it. Today we have a remake that doesn’t take any risks, and amazingly it left me just as annoyed as I was with Ghostbusters (2016).
Beauty and the Beast is directed by Bill Condon and written by Evan Spiliotopoulos and Stephen Chbosky. Stars-Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Josh Gad, and Kevin Kline. Premise-When her father is taken prisoner by a ferocious beast, the young, kind, and beautiful Belle takes his place and quickly discovers that her captor may be much more than his outward appearance.
Before we continue, allow me to tick off some 90s kids; I am not that big a fan of the original Beauty and the Beast. Of course it is one of the best films in the Disney renaissance. Of course the animation is gorgeous. And of course the natural romantic progression rivals that of a Richard Linklater film. The soundtrack is tops, Gaston is the most hateably fun alpha-male in film history, and it has stood the test of time better than most kid-friendly romances. However, I feel little personal connection with it. It could be that I’ve never been in a romantic relationship before (maybe there were too many contrivances or silly moments in the movie), but it’s not a movie that I’d buy on Blu-Ray, cry while watching, or gush about. It’s an excellent film, but not one of my favorites. Hmm. It appears that this paragraph has fallen on deaf ears. I currently have 20 enraged Tumblr fanboys brandishing pitchforks outside my house. Well, better get on with this review.
While Cinderella (2015) added just as many problems as it removed, and The Jungle Book (2016) improved upon the original (slightly), this Beauty and the Beast remake is content to change absolutely nothing. I’m sure they made minor revisions here and there, but I am not employed by Screen Junkies, so it’s not my job to nitpick. Seriously, this movie is almost scene-for-scene like the original. I’m not racist, but it’s telling when the thing that stood out to me the most was the addition of black side-characters. Ok, that’s not the only change that I noticed. The best change is with LeFou’s character. Not only does he have more dimension, but Josh Gad plays him extremely well. He does begin as the “idiot best friend” cliché, but he has the funniest lines in the film, and his energy brightens any scene with him in it. Other than that, everything is almost exactly the same, and that is a problem.
There are two ways to do remakes now (at least according to Hollywood): change very little and go the safe route, or change everything and act like the original doesn’t exist (or worse, disrespect the original). Vacation (2015) and Ghostbusters (2016) obviously fall into the latter category due to their insulting writing and arrogant marketing. Beauty and the Beast (2017) is worse than the original because the live-action CGI cannot compare to the extremely talented 2D animation of the biggest animation company of all time (to be fair, the F/X, costumes, music, and sets are pretty impressive). Not helping the film is the cast. Aside from Josh Gad, everyone is at a similar level of awkward. Luke Evans can’t match the “charm” of the original Gaston, Emma Watson needs to be more expressive (in one musical scene, she stops in one spot with her arms against her sides while staring at a green screen), Dan Stevens can’t sing, especially with his distorted Beast voice, and the townspeople are all very passive-aggressive for some reason. As far as story goes, mostly everything is the same.
Well that was a short review! I’ll say it again, because this movie is so unnecessarily familiar, and my passive opinion of the original, I can’t muster up the rage to care, nor was there much substance in the first place. If you were surprised to see the end of the review so soon, now you know how I felt when I first realized that I had very little to say about another dang remake that stingy executives threw money at instead of original ideas. Beauty and the Beast (2017) gets Guy’s Guru Grade of a B-.
P.S-A very special “Thank You” to everyone who read and liked my “Inferno” post. I put quite a bit of work into it, and even though it is the first special project I have done, I’m pleased with the results. I now have much more confidence to start writing the next one. Here’s a little teaser for you: it has something to do with Disney.