I actually wanted to write out a review for the animated movie beforehand, and I probably still will, just been somewhat busy lately. But long story short, I don't give that movie enough credit for what it was, what it did, and what it still is. The animation was incredible and even revolutionary. The music was timeless. The characters were some of the strongest of any Disney movie. It really is the Pinnacle of the Disney Renaissance. I may enjoy other films more, but it's rightly praised for a reason. And it has enough of an audience to the point where remaking it will likely turn up a small profit. Disney literally has nothing to lose by remaking this. It could bomb, and they would still be on top. So why not remake a Pinnacle masterpiece? They can do it! Unfortunately, to quote Dr. Ian Malcolm, I'm sure these studio heads were so focused on if they could do it that they forgot to ask themselves if they should do it.
Because there was no reason to. This film is completely unnecessary. There is no newer generation that's out of the loop, most people will still go to the original. The remake of Beauty and the Beast is disappointing, lacking, drug out at times, and just completely... I'm sure I've said this plenty of times already, but I'll hammer it home again. UNNECESSARY.
Strap yourselves in guys... This is a long one.
Right off the bat, the film starts almost completely the same as the original, though it gives us a more in depth look as to what exactly happened to the Prince as far as his transformation is concerned. It even explains why his castle is not known to the village, which is a small plot hole the original movie glossed over. Right off the bat, I didn't care for the costumes. I know it's time era appropriate and whatnot, but these costumes to me stand out as rather fake. They even keep the same color schemes and designs for Belle as she makes her first appearance. And it just stands out in the wrong ways to me. The setting of The entire movie can be incredibly hit or miss for me. Sometimes I feel that the scenery is chewing out all the actors onscreen almost. Quite the achievement. I also feel that there are times that they don't know what to do to make this remake stand out on its own. They do very little to make it seem as such. One of the reasons I love Jungle Book last year as much as I did was that it did more than simply remake is original animated source material. It improved and added onto it...A feat that's impossible to do with this film. Granted they do have a few additions that are kinda fun in the long run, but completely unnecessary. For example, Beast has this book that can magically transport him anywhere in the world. It's like the mirror he has, only apparently more literal? And they visit Paris, where Belle was apparently born. The she discovers what happens to her mother, which gives us more insight to Belle's character and what her past was like. This would be well and good, but the thing is, it really doesn't contribute a whole lot to the story in the long run. The can be said for a lot of things.
The cast of this movie does its job I guess. Emma Watson's autotuned singing is convincing enough, the voice of the beast I will say is absolutely wonderful (spot on casting there), Josh Gad has a lot of fun with Lefou, which I'll talk more about later, but as for the rest of the cast... I'm honestly not that impressed. Gaston feels very out of character for me. He's been watered down from the egocentric heartless fun villain that he was in the original. In fact, the first time he interacts with Belle, I thought Belle was crazy not to interact with him. All he did was give her flowers and invite her to dinner! Now you compare that to the original, where he takes her book, mocks her reading, and almost forcefully takes her to his tavern, and you tell me which is the better portrayal. And yes Gaston is no Romeo in this, and he does still have those rude moments, but then there are times that he just straight up becomes a cold blooded attempted murderer, and it makes no sense. Another thing to say is that in the original, he's the guy that people strive to be like. In this, the only one kissing his boots is Lefou. And that's probably more for other reasons than sheer admiration. During one of my favorite songs, focused on Gaston, the tavern doesn't seem that interested in Gaston, where in the original, they're drinking drink after drink in his name. This isn't the Gaston I know and love. Disney took one of my favorite villains they have and completely messed him up.
But that's not all. They also messed up the chemistry of characters like Coggsworth and Lumiere. I swear, Coggsworth barely says a word in this movie. Or his lines rarely go past five words. Most of the time he's just grunting or stuttering, where he's originally running around, trying to get people to straight up listen to him, and trying to get the last word in no matter what. Here, you'd have to pay me to believe that he's head of household. Lumiere isn't as bad, he's still the guy pushing for the spell to be broken and whatnot, and Ian McAllen doesn't do a bad job showing that. But he spends most of his time interacting with that feather duster than he does Coggsworth. Their friendship with each other is one of the most fun things of the animated classic! Why is it so noticably absent here?
I didn't like the choice for Mrs. Potts at all. One of the things I noticed in this remake is that a few characters have a lot of sass. And it feels oddly out of place. During the musical number "Be Our Guest", I swear, there's one particular moment where Potts is flying through the air, and she does a kissy face to the camera....NO! Just... NO! Why was that needed? Someone please explain to me why they put that in.
And while I'm discussing characters, I guess I gotta acknowledge the elephant in the room. The controversial move to make Lefou a gay character. I didn't really have any problem with it since he's not the focus of the story, and it does make for some very silly awkward laughs. It's not in your face, it's rather subtle at times, and if not for a few obvious moments, I likely never would have noticed at all. But that almost makes me wonder if this is borderline tokening. Just a move from Disney to say "Hey we have a gay character now! That's relevant, right?" They have enough fun with his character in the film to the point where I don't mind too much, though I will say with as much crap Gaston puts him through, his added change of heart in the movie comes way too late. I half expected him to be the one to bust Belle and her father from the prison cart.
I'm gonna move on from the characters for a moment. Let's talk about the music. It's hit or miss. All the classics are here, and some are musical numbers I've never heard. I don't know if they're from the Broadway musical or whatnot, but these additional hits really don't do it for me. They're nowhere near as memorable as the original stuff. I guess they may have been written by original composer Alan Menken, but there's likely a reason they didn't make the movie. They're just not that good. Even the classic stuff can be hit or miss. On one hand, I loved the presentation of "Be Our Guest", but in another, the opening number was very dull. The village seems beyond dead. People just standing around, not moving, it's quite a bore to behold. "But Travis, that's the point! Belle is singing about how boring her life is there!" And even in the original the town at least seemed more lively. People were moving, conducting their everyday lives. Here there's a scene where literally the only two people moving are Belle and Gaston. Come on movie! Liven it up a bit!
I should also say that there are things in this movie that just don't fit, and are there mainly for what feel like "because movie" moments. Like in the opening act, Belle is teaching a little girl to read, and people mock her for it. They literally give this snobby "a girl, reading?! PREPOSTEROUS!" response. Then they go as far as to ruin her laundry. What the hell? These villagers are a bunch of jackasses! They also try to flesh out the backstory of the beast with this clichéd, he lost his mother, and his father was cruel trope, and that's why he's so selfish. I'm... So tired of these tropes. Sure the original movie doesn't give us the insight needed to understand why the prince is how he is, but it's almost stronger that way. I prefer seeing him just growing up to be a spoiled rotten little shit, because there ARE kids like that. The payoff of him learning to love again is that much greater! Here they constantly foreshadow that there's good in him and that he's not to blame for the way he is and it takes away so much...
I mean hell, in this movie, Belle KNOWS about the curse! She knows that they're under a spell that will become permanent if the enchanted Rose completely wilts, and yet when she's asked if there's a way to lift it, no one tells her. Would it not be so much easier to say, "Yeah there's a way. Beast's gotta learn to love, and she's gotta love him back." and potentially avoid future trouble? Or is there some small print in the curse that she can't know what's going on? Even the films climax is weak. In fact, it's drug out like nothing else. I hate to spoil things, but in this case... I'm not sure I'm giving away anything. The last petal falls from the enchanted Rose, and we get this long drawn out scene of all the minor characters losing their humanity and becoming more and more like objects, which is a fun concept, but one I didn't care for. I also gotta say that after that final petal fell, with the connection they built on it being connected with the castle decay... Shouldn't the castle have just collapsed? Oh well. Guess we need our happy ending. But it's a good minute or so before Belle confesses her love... AFTER THE PETAL FALLS. I hate to be that guy, but no. Happy ending chance is gone for me there. Instead, the Enchantress is there and I guess takes pity on the Beast because Belle is weeping over his dead body, which says she loves him in return. This ironically leads me to the most damning thing about this movie. The chemistry between our two leads.
The one thing you couldn't mess up in this movie is messed up. There is nothing present in this movie to make me thoroughly believe these two could fall in love. From the time Beast speaks with her in the prison tower as she's trying to free his dad, he doesn't say A WORD to her until he's pounding on her door, demanding she join him for dinner (one of my favorite scenes of the original movie which is a huge letdown here). He doesn't even speak to his servants about her. Here he's content to leaving her in the tower if not for the intervention of his servants, he doesn't care to feed her, he wants virtually nothing to do with her at all. While in the original, his servants are pushing for him to interact with her, and we learn more about his character and behavior. He's more demanding of her in that, which pushes her past her patience. His servants try to reform him in ways that strangely work. In the animated movie, after he's screaming at her to get out of the West Wing, there's a moment after she flees that he realizes his mistake. There's no such moment here. When Belle flees, there's no reason to believe that he would go after her, and no reason to believe that she would not just leave him to die. This would ironically work if they built off this hate relationship they have going on, but they don't. There's no interactions, there's no thoughts as to how to get things started, and the resulting relationship is beyond forced. They do that one scene where they bicker at each other as Belle tries to bandage the beast, and it felt more like a check mark on the movie more than anything. There was nothing convincing me.
Now granted, by the time the second half rolls on, things do get rolling. And there are some genuine moments between both Belle and the Beast. Belle's joy at seeing his massive library is actually really funny. And a few moments of them just reflecting on the land around then can be touching. But by the time the iconic ballroom scene passes, it falls down into this unbelievable relationship again. The scene after the ballroom dance of the original movie is also among my favorite scenes of that movie. When Belle realizes her father is in trouble there's one little moment where Beast looks at the enchanted Rose in despair. Because he knows that this is his one shot at breaking the curse. Yet he knows what he has to do in letting her go because of how much he cares for her. That moment is missing in this film. Instead he just let's her go. But it doesn't end there! The moment after this in the original movie, after Belle is released, Coggsworth comes in and begins to congratulate the Beast on the good night he has with Belle, before he realizes the Beast has released her. After he asks why, Beast replies "Because I love her." And the delivery, the emotion, the feeling of this one line alone is absolutely perfect. You are totally convinced that he genuinely cares for her. In this movie? After they question why he releases her...Mrs. Potts says that it's because he loves her...
NO. NO MOVIE! BAD! You lost me! Anything you had going as far as chemistry is concerned is absolutely gone now! You gotta hear HIM say it! It's not the job of the servants to convince me the viewer, that Beast has changed. That's HIS job. HE has to break the curse. HE has to convince me he's learned to love. And NOT ONCE does he mutter the words "I love you". Not once. Even by the end when he's transformed, they feel more like a gimmick then an actual couple! There's nothing there. I'd like to see anyone even try and defend this aspect of the movie now.
I'm sorry, I'm sure most of you think I hate this movie right now. Truth is, I don't. Oh it's bad, and beyond disappointing, but it's hardly among the worst things I've ever seen. Some of the visuals in this movie are absolutely stellar, and some of the comedy is spot on. There's a scene where Belle throws a snowball at Beast much like the original, and the beast just throws this large ball of snow and BELTS her out cold in the face. And it's absolutely hilarious. But this movie is missing so much that made Beauty and the Beast so incredible to begin with. And when you mess up the one thing you need to nail in this movie of convincing us that these two do indeed love each other? You can tell I'll be hard on you. This movie has the look, even the sound of Beauty and the Beast. But all that spirit, all that emotion, all that essence that made it a Disney Legend? It's absent. The remake of Beauty and the Beast is a one and a half star rating out of four. And it barely earns that. It's not among my worst movies ever seen, but it's easily one of the biggest disappointments. I mean I knew it likely wouldn't hold up to the original... But to see it crash this hard blows my mind. It doesn't even hold a candlestick to the original film. And I'm sure some of you will disagree, like my sister who's a Beauty and the Beast fanatic. Some of you will find this enjoyable. But I'm willing to bet that if asked what they wanted to watch between this and the original animated masterpiece, nine out of ten people will point to the original.
Please feel free to request any movies you'd like to see me review in the near future. Leave a comment down below expressing your own thoughts on the movie, and as always, thanks for reading.
Final Verdict: 1.5/4