Beauty and the Beast (2017) Review

Recently, the anticipated remake of a Disney animated classic Beauty and the Beast has been released in the theaters. Like many others, I jumped for the chance to see how the remake captures the execution of one of most beloved Disney animated film in history. I did enjoy the film and would watch it again. Though I am biased, I did note there were some improvements the film should have addressed.

Positives

  1. Plot holes fixed – The curse time limit of the rose blossoming until the prince’s 21st birthday and references to how they have been under the curse for 10 years were deleted. As this would have implied that the prince was cursed when he was 11 years old, this raises the unfortunate implications of the whole situation considering not many 11 year olds would have the authority nor the maturity to handle that type of situation. In fact, it was confirmed that the prince was an adult when he was cursed in the remake so the problem was alleviated. Another plot hole present in the original film was the question of why none of the townspeople were aware of a giant royal castle in the forest nor wondering why the prince and his staff were suddenly gone. This was explained by the enchantress’s curse causing everyone to forget about the castle and its residents.
  2. Prologue – The prologue explained more of the prince’s character on how he was before the curse. It was said and shown he revels beauty and decadence so much that he taxed the people to host extravagant parties and afford beautiful objects. This shows him to be very concerned with outer appearances and wasteful. His masquerade ball with elegantly clad guests and his garish makeup supports the notion of his superficial vain nature. When the witch arrived at the ball, not only he denies her sacred hospitality but also she was in his eyes ruining his perfect ball by being her ugly self in the castle according to the novelization. In addition, his garish appearance at the beginning contrast his human appearance at the end where he is much more natural and pleasant looking to match his changed character.
  3. Gaston and Lefou – They both stole the show. Luke Evans as Gaston has a great singing voice. Though not as baritone as Richard White’s voice, his voice conveyed emotions and the character of Gaston well, especially during the Mob song. Josh Gad as Lefou adds some one liners that gave me a laugh as well as adding depth and development to the character. The reveal of the sexuality adds another layer of motivation on why Lefou fawns over Gaston so much.
  4. Proactive Belle – Belle is modified to be a more proactive character in the film. She is less soft than her animated counterpart. Instead of sneakily sending Gaston out her door, she directly tells him she won’t marry him. In her assigned bedroom, she constructed a rope to execute her plan of escaping the beast’s castle instead of crying on the bed. Additionally, she takes a more active role in saving the beast when she wrestles Gaston’s gun to prevent him from hurting the beast.
  5. Maurice Character Expansion – The father in the movie is much more competent than his animated counterpart. His ability to judge other people’s characters is more effective than in the animated version in which he suggested Belle socialize with Gaston since he is a “handsome fellow”. In the live action version, he protects Belle by refusing his daughter’s hand of marriage to Gaston once he saw Gaston’s true colors. Furthermore, he was knocked off his trail by a supernatural cause than by his own stupidity in insisting in turning on the dark and foreboding trail instead of the sunny cheery trail that his horse wanted to go.
  6. Enchantress Involvement – Although the enchantress’s morality is still questionable considering she cursed Chip, Cadenza, and Madame Garderobe when they couldn’t have been responsible for the prince’s upbringing as the latter two were visitors invited to the debutante ball, it was nice to see the Enchantress keeping tabs on her curse on the royal subjects. Her action in saving Maurice from being eaten by wolves and lifting the curse after it was too late for Belle to break suggests she wasn’t as malicious in the original and realizes she was wrong.
  7. Lefou Redemption – Lefou in the original was a mindless hero worshipping who thought Gaston could do no wrong. In the live action, he still puts Gaston on a pedestal but with the added angle that he was legitimately attracted to Gaston also. Over the course in the movie, Lefou began to question his friend’s actions, which the process was jumpstarted by Gaston leaving Maurice to die in the woods. He also was given some snarky one liners such as “This is the family you wanted to marry into?” that gave me a laugh. At the end, he realizes Gaston was the real monster all along and does not care about him in the same way he did but instead view him as a disposable pawn. This epiphany causes him to switch sides and led him to save Mrs. Potts.
  8. Visual – The film is gorgeous from a visual standpoint. The Be Our Guest sequence was a sight to see, the town looks so idyllic and cute, and the ballroom scene was stunning. Those scenes alone make me want to see the whole scenes in person if that would be possible, maybe several years later, we would get the virtual reality and sensory stimulation treatment for films.

Negatives

  1. Emma Watson’s Acting and Singing – I wasn’t impressive by her vocal abilities in the film. Considering the original was a musical, it should be logical to require the lead actress to a singing background. There were parts in the film in which her voice was auto-tuned and robotic, which was disappointing. I wished they would have casted a broadway actress who was involved in singing musicals onstage. Emma’s acting in some scenes were lackluster when it was expected to show more emotions and character.
  2. Book Plot Hole – If the book is a portal that transports the person into another location in an instant, why doesn’t Belle uses that book to quickly teleport to the town in order to save Maurice? Of course, if she did that, it might look like she was using magic and might be accused of being witch, which wouldn’t be a good idea in a provincial town in rural 18th century France. Anther instant she could’ve used the book would be to quickly travel to the beast’s castle to warn the beast about the upcoming mob. It would’ve saved a lot of headache and the beast’s heartache and motivation in stopping the mob.
  3. Enchantress’s Amnesia Spell – The amnesia spell that occurs after the curse was set on the beast in order to fix the plot hole that the town doesn’t know anything about the royal castle and its inhabitants despite close proximity raises more questions on how would any girl be able to stumble upon the castle in order to break the spell? It doesn’t look like the town gets a lot of visitors from other places. Does the enchantress intended the savior to be from outside the town since the town is just as superficial as the beast before he was turned?
  4. Beast’s Name – I wished they gave the prince / beast a name since it was jarring to hear Belle calling the beast “Beast!” in the original at the Gaston vs Beast scene. Did the beast ever requested Belle to call him by his name? Or did he requested her to address him as the master or just beast since he felt he was no long human? The jury is still out on the question of the beast’s name. In the live action, it did look like his father appears to be Louis XIV.

In all, I do like this film and appreciate the add ons that attempted to fix on the animated film’s flaws. If one hasn’t seen the animated film, I would say one would very much like it. Without being compared to the animated film, I think the live action version is strong enough to stand on its own.

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