Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months, I’m sure you’re aware that Disney’s newest blockbuster is the live action edition of Beauty and the Beast. There’s been a bunch of hype around the release of the film for the past two years, with teasers being released every few months, etc.
So what do you need to know?
- It forces you to remember that the story is about a beautiful, quirky young girl falling in love with a bull-lion-thing.
- There’s a few new songs to flesh it out into a needless two hour long film.
- Gaston is darker than in the animation.
- Their LGBT representation which was such Big News that it trended for two days lasts all of two seconds.
- It’s frustratingly unforgettable.
Let’s break it down:
Number one – Putting the Beast in Beastiality.
There’s a lot of things that we as viewers are willing to forgive and forget, act ignorant towards when it comes to Disney films for at the end of every film, there’s always some moral grounding. Beauty and the Beast’s lesson teaches us that beauty comes from within and we shouldn’t judge books by their fur-laden covers. However, while it’s easy to forget that Belle is falling in love with an animal during the animation due to the dehumanisation of cartoons; it’s all too apparent within this real-life remake. Even more so when Belle at the end when the Beast had transformed into the gorgeous Dan Stevens jests that he should grow a beard to look more like his previous self. I think it was a funny line for all the wrong reasons.
Number two – Quick! More backstory!
As opposed to its animated counterpart, this re-imagination has a whole extra hour of plot to boast. The audience were given an insight into the backstory of pretty much every character that came on screen (with additions of Gaston being a war-hero, the Prince having an abusive father and Belle’s mother dying of the plague.) Although these moments were meant to be poignant and were meant to explain more about the characters’ actions, it left me with a feeling of “…and?” It’s no shock to us as viewers anymore if a Disney character’s parent is dead – that seems to come with the territory. What would have been more of a shock would have been if the Prince’s parents were still in the Castle as a lavatory and a sink or something of the like. However, it all just felt like fluff to keep the story going and to make it a feature-length which was needless when the previous film did all of the groundwork.
I feel as if I’m being very negative which is why I’ll move onto my favourite part of the film – the soundtrack. Although the new songs again didn’t add much to the film apart from a few extra minutes, they were stunning. Alan Menken’s lyrics and score always steals my heart – he could re-write Banana Phone and I’d have it on repeat. With songs such as Days in the Sun and Evermore in addition to the classics such as Be Our Guest and Something There, the soundtrack in my opinion is the film’s strongest asset. Even though I was more than ready to escape the cinema by the time the Beast bursts into his angst song, the lyrics and Dan Steven’s dynamic voice brought a tear to my eye. Or ten.
Number three – No-one shocks like Gaston.
The thing that I’ve always found most interesting about Gaston in the animated feature is that in any other story, he would be the hero. I could write a post entirely of its own on this – the fact that he’s a little dumb (Prince Eric, not recognising Ariel just because she can’t talk but looks EXACTLY the same as the girl he saw only a day before), a little shallow (any Disney prince ever – they rarely fall in love with the princesses for their personality), and a makes him quite like the rest of the Disney heroes that we’ve seen. He’s saving the girl from a monster to his eyes, eager to marry her. So what makes him a villain? The fact that he would go to new lengths to get what he wants – even putting his future father-in-law in an asylum.
Number four – disappointed but not surprised.
I remember when they announced that there was going to be the first LGBT character represented in a Disney film for there was such an incredible amount of controversy and praise for Disney’s decision that I was expecting there to be a whole scene where LeFou comes out to his friends in the tavern or confesses his love of Gaston. However, what literally trended on social media amounted to nothing more than a two second clip of LeFou dancing with a man rather than a woman. Sigh.
Finally, number five – I can’t get this film out of my head.
Even though this review has been more negative than positive, I enjoyed it more than I didn’t. I would definitely watch it again to try and find some of the pieces that I had missed, to enjoy what I was too busy criticising. I think the fatal flaw with this rendition of the film is that the 1991 Beauty and the Beast was already perfect. Yes, we had more backstory. Yes, they filled in a few of the plot-holes. But the phrase “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” applies to a lot of Disney classics and Beauty and the Beast is definitely one of them.
I hope you enjoyed reading this review – please comment if you agreed/disagreed and let me know what you thought! Also let me know if there’s any other films you would be interested in me reviewing as I’m going to post one a week!