Beauty and the Beast is an adaptation of the Disney fairy tale about a monstrous-looking prince and a young woman who fall in love.
The 1991 Disney version of Beauty and the Beast that this film took its ‘inspiration’ from was by far one of my favourite films of all time. When I saw it at the movies with my mum during a Disney princess’ weekend the local cinemas were having, I started crying at the opening credits when the initial music played over the Disney castle. This film was my childhood. This film means so much to me that it was a major inspiration to get into film and I know the film like the back of my hand. It’s easily one of Disney’s finest works amongst the likes of The Lion King, Aladdin, Mulan, and Toy Story to name a few. The original source material was beautifully breathtaking with humour and a touch of Disney magic.
So when I heard that it was being made into a live action film, I was always hesitant. As soon as I heard Emma Watson was cast as Belle, I knew that the film was never going to be the same and wasn’t something I should get my hopes up about. And I was 100% right.
This time when I cried, it was because I saw my childhood go up in fucking flames. I wanted to walk out. I was absolutely distraught. And I hadn’t felt this upset since I saw La La Land. Every time I think about either of these films, it just reminds me how desperate studios are either for money or trying to reach into the past to try and rekindle that time where originality in cinema thrived. Instead we’re left with nothing but greed and lost any of its Disney magic.
The film was so flat and lacking any charm whatsoever. It was like the filmmakers just couldn’t be bothered in the first place. The costume and set design should be commended, and one of the very few positives of the film, though there was some questionable moments where Belle’s dress seemed to be tucked into her bloomers underneath her dress to reveal said garment underneath. It was like she had gone to the bathroom and not realised that her dress had gotten caught and no one bothered to tell her (this can happen to the best of us, I’m sure). Make up choices were questionable, especially when we’re first introduced to the Beast’s true form in Prince Adam.
There were also parts of the story that didn’t need to be there and were quite confusing, especially with the the Enchantress being apart of the same village and her enchanting form not exactly enchanting.
Bill Condon lacked any of the storytelling or directorial guidance from his previous hits in Chicago (where he served as writer) and Dreamgirls (where he served as writer/director). We shouldn’t be surprised, however, since some of his other previous credits include The Fifth Estate, which was a box office and critical flop that failed to make back its $28million budget with only $8million worldwide, and unfortunately, the two parter of Twilight: Breaking Dawn. Yes. You read that right. The director of two Twilight films helmed a childhood film. 2015′s Mr. Holmes was better, but still quite slow.
Considering the quite oversized budget of $160million, the CGI was quite poor and its probably because the production spent most of their money on the cast. Characters like Lumière, Cogsworth, Mrs Potts, and most of the cursed appliances were quite off putting to be watching for an extended period of time though the biggest offender, and arguably the character that mattered the most, was the Beast. He’s lifeless and and almost a disgusting creation that was nothing like I would imagine the Beast would look like in a real life creation.
And casting, casting, casting. What a waste. Emma Watson was never the best actress. She always seems stiff, cold, bland, and lacking any emotional empathy whatsoever. She’s pretty, sure, but she’s no Belle. There is no warmth or humanity to her portrayal of this beloved character that made her so loved in the original. Money was probably the only reason she was drawn to this film since her last few films in Colonia, The Bling Ring, Noah, and Regression haven’t exactly been well received. She’s a great social justice warrior, don’t get me wrong, it’s just as an actress that she ultimately fails. Her next outing the adaption of Dave Eggers The Circle that comes out next month, again isn’t something you’d see for Watson — the novel was average at best yet boasts a supporting cast in Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton, John Boyega (who is finally getting the recognition he deserves), and Karen Gillian that is far superior in acting ability and personality.
As for the rest of the cast — Kevin Kline is a wasted talent that is miscast much like Watson; Ian McKellen, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Audra McDonald, and Emma Thompson were expendable and hardly memorable; and Dan Stevens was an adequate Beast but is hardly a singer, his role, much like Watson’s and much of the rest of the cast, could’ve gone to people who had musical theatre experience, or could even sing in the first place.
And this brings us to Luke Evans as Gaston and Josh Gad as LeFou. They were the only accurately and well cast characters of the entire film, and the only ones who could actually sing in the first place. They have amazing chemistry with one another and bring new life to their well known and loved characters.
In the end, reliving the film again for this review has made me tired and exhausted thinking about it again. If you want something that reminds you of the beloved original and some Disney magic, don’t look here. It’s completely devoid of anything that made the story so loved in the first place.