Beauty and the Beast [2017]: A Shell Of Its Former Self

I remember when I saw the teaser trailer for Beauty and the Beast [2017] and became very curious as to what it could offer. But at the same time the idea seemed completely ridiculous. Why remake a timeless classic? Answer: “You JUST don’t!” Leave it be and concentrate on making brand-new timeless classics (but, then again, this is Hollywood we’re talking about here and nowadays they’re mostly preoccupied on pushing out reboots, remakes, or adaptions [so I’m basically pissing against the wind expecting something fresh and original]).

Naturally, I quickly took offence to this film because it was trying to cash-in on one of my FAVOURITE Disney animated films (of all times). It wouldn’t have been as bad had the remake was intentioned to  be original, meaning it was producing it’s own take on the classical fairy-tale. In this case I wouldn’t be sitting through the film constantly judging it based on the original film, thus enjoying it for being an ORIGINAL interpretation, which (honestly) would’ve been more exciting.

But, instead, I had to sit through a torturous performance as I watched my beloved classic being trampled over by an uninspiring copy-cat. Now, this film could’ve still been good had it been a faithful live-action adaption. Yes, it would’ve made it even more redundant because it would’ve been precisely the same God-damn film, but at least it wouldn’t have been taking a huge shit on Beauty and the Beast [1991] like it ended up doing.

The problem I mostly had with this remake was it just felt completely flat (especially in the character department). There was no life, or originality to it. It was so Hell bent on clinging onto the original‘s glory that it failed to actually be as glorious.

I was watching the film desperately trying to recapture the heart of definitive scenes but it ended-up failing miserably because of the lack of soul and identity. Firstly the casting (for the most part) is completely wrong, and secondly, some of the scenes and dialogue has been completely re-written, which in turn make these timeless moments feel inferior in the process. I’m sorry for anyone who loves Emma Watson but she certainly didn’t suit the part here. She clearly couldn’t hit the beats for her song cues and as a result made Bell’s iconic moments die on their arse.

What was made worse was that the film suffered with issues caused by political correctness (which it clearly felt like Watson had had a huge part in [it screamed her signature as an over-enthusiastic feminist]). Bell’s character had weird character moments, to which it seemed like Watson was making a statement about equality and that woman protagonists need to be more independent.

It’s not like Bell was lacking any of these qualities in the original, given she did her own thing and never allowed herself to be changed by the influence of others. Despite the villagers and Gaston trying to call her out on her differences she merely ignored them and declared her views of “wanting to live a greater existence” with pride. Not to mention her courage against The Beast, stylishly giving back everything he gave, resulting in The Beast being forced to submit and realise that his actions were wrong, ultimately pushing him to finally be a better person. That’s all down to Bell’s independence, bravery, and selfless nature.

In this version the message is blurred, and delivered rather awkwardly, with Watson’s underperformance just feeling shallow as she tried to use this iconic character to formulate an argument towards making female characters stronger. Then you obviously have the strangest decision within the film, i.e. LeFou being gay, which I will admit wasn’t necessarily a bad thing in terms of progressing Hollywood’s awareness on the gay community, but did we really need it to happen here?

It’s hardly fitting to incorporate Disney’s very first gay character into such a forced role, when it could’ve been carried over to another film where the narrative plays to their strengths and utilises their sexuality in the best possible way.

And then there was the random inclusion of mixed racial relationships. I guess what I’m trying to say is these inclusions all felt like they had an agenda, and that agenda is to pray on our thought-patterns, forcing us to except elements of society that should already be accepted. I don’t need to be told these things because I’m civilised enough to know that equality is a GOOD thing and should be rightfully WELCOMED and EMBRACED.

Therefore, stop shoving it in our faces through the stupidest of means. Don’t ruin quality films and television programmes to have a moment to declare your political and social messages. Create ORIGINAL content that allows equality to naturally flow instead of making them EVENT moments that ultimately spoil things through agenda fuelled nonsense. Push the message across properly and maybe we might finally get somewhere.

It’s just such a shame that all the effort that clearly went into this film was wasted by poor decision making. They tried so hard to recapture the original film but failed to realise what made it so powerful and emotional. This interpretation lacked any real passion, with the acting feeling wooden at times, the script was certainly hollow, and the fancy directing was all there to desperately try and distract us from the fact that the film is utterly shit and inferior to the original.

There are so many occasions where I just couldn’t grasp the characters motivations or connections because they just weren’t conveyed well, diverting violently from the original film (which, may I add, this film was desperately trying to cling onto).

The first moment in which I generally thought, “You know what, this is actually not half-bad,” was when Ewan McGregor did his version of Lumiére’s iconic song, “Be Our Guest”. This musical number at least tried capturing the spirit of the original and McGregor tries his absolute damdest to make it a spectacle. Sure, it’ll never beat the original version but at least it tried. The rest of the film just didn’t try and just forced its way through, desperately clinging onto nostalgia to back itself up.

One moment in particular that sold itself short was The Beast revealing the library to Bell. This was such a poetic moment in the original as The Beast wanted to give Bell the perfect present to showcase his affection for her, but here, he simply takes her in there because he wants to give her a better book to read other than Romeo and Juliet.

What the fuck? How dare you shit on an iconic moment by being completely missing the point of why the moment was so powerful and important to both the narrative and characterisation. To back myself up even further my own Mother thought this scene was terrible because of the reasons I stated. In fact, it was her that first pointed it out to me (whilst we were watching it) and made me aware of it, and thus the deep discussions about comparison erupted.

It was from this moment on that I just couldn’t take the film seriously, watching in agony as the film tried forcing the idea that Bell and The Beast had “actual connection” down my throat.

Okay, Luke Evans as Gaston was a somewhat highlight of the film (along with McGregor, Ian McKellen, and Emma Thompson [who actually did a rather faithful Mrs. Potts]). Some of his scenes weren’t as good as the original, but when he rallies his troops to kill The Beast in the final act I was slightly impressed. But again, it didn’t WOW me to the point that I thought his performance was better than the original. None of this film came close to beating the original. It just failed in every area to hit the beats that the original effortlessly hit.

Plus, like I said earlier, the characters were just flat, with Watson and Dan Stevens failing miserably to capture the spirits of their iconic characters, with Stevens’ performance as The Beast being rather pathetic when he needed to display energy or emotion (particularly when compared to scenes from the original were The Beast conveyed an abundance of menace through his anger and furious nature, to which Bell even became frightened).

And the changes that were made only further established that the the narrative felt inferior because it wrecked the development of the characters, along with key scenes, or character moments, being completely absent in this version, or re-juggled to accommodate the new approach (which didn’t work).

For example, in the original you had the powerful moment of The Beast’s first entry after Maurice enters the castle and is welcomed by Lumiére (and co). It had a lot of power and weight because of his dark presence and the injustice of Maurice’s imprisonment due to his clear innocence (showcasing the cold, and harsh nature of The Prince, brought on further by the curse caused by his own selfishness and ignorance).

In this version Maurice is bumbling around like an idiot, he barely has any interaction with Lumiére and the others, and is abruptly caught by The Beast after Maurice tries taking a random rose from a tree outside. It lacks atmosphere, characterisation, and depth. Later on when The Beast is supposed to showcase his cruelness further by sending Maurice away without allowing Bell to say goodbye is replaced by an understanding Beast who lets Bell say goodbye.

Not only does it lose an important character moment between Bell and The Beast but it’s also made worse by the fact that it’s (yet again) forcing in Watson looking like an independent woman by belatedly pushing her selfless nature into the scene unnaturally (becoming rather over-the-top, to the point where the subtlety is completely lost and the moment is ruined).

Then there’s the additions of Bell randomly finding out that her mother died from the Plague (which adds fuck all to the plot [feeling like complete padding to make this film feel longer and less of a copy-cat to the original]). We even have a random bit of dialogue indicating that The Prince became cruel after his mother died because his father forced him to be like himself, i.e. cruel and heartless. Yes, interesting, but adds little, to nothing, to the plot.

Another random moment is The Beast singing a song after he lets Bell go (which is ruined further when Mrs. Potts declares he “loves Bell” instead of The Beast himself [which made the original scene so much more powerful]). The Beast is supposed to be emotionally crushed but then starts singing a song with depressing meaning, but the way it’s sung and the music is composed ends-up delivering the exact opposite response. The song may have been beautifully crafted but it felt completely out of a place.

I think the only descent thing that was added was the cruel idea that when the last Rose petal fell then not only would The Prince remain a Beast forever, but everyone else would turn into actual furniture. How fucked-up is that? In fact, this actually happens prior to The Beast being reverted back into a Prince during the climatic moment (although the transformation itself is made weaker by poor characterisation, lesser emotional affect, and the stupid fact that The Enchantress is randomly present to reverse everything) and it’s actually quite emotional seeing these characters desperately trying to say goodbye to one another (not to mention Chip nearly dying was incredibly tense).

I think what it mostly comes down to is the fact that Beauty and the Beast [1991] holds a special place in my heart (particularly since this was one of my late grandmother’s favourite films, to which I repeatedly brought round to her house so that we could watch it together over and over again). It’s such a fantastic film and I generally felt it could never be topped, thus a shitty remake like this that lacks any originality, or identity, try and cash-in on its legacy is an insult. Maybe I am just being extremely petty, but hey, we all have our opinions and this is simply mine.

If you liked this film, that’s fine. If you liked this film but felt it didn’t compare to the original, that’s also fine. But, as for me, I just hated it with a passion. I just hope I explained my points as clearly as possible and that I wasn’t just letting my love for the original completely cloud my judgement. Although, I will say that I did try my absolute best to give this remake a chance with an open-mind (but, I guess it was never meant to be).

To conclude, I just want to state this one final message, “Please Disney, just leave your beloved classics alone and concentrate on purely making new entries (just not Frozen related). You can do that right? You’ve proven yourself capable of this with your recent entries, i.e Tangled, Wreck-It Ralph, Big Hero 6, and Zootropolis (or Zootopia in the US). So, yeah, is that too much to ask for?”

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