Cocktails and Movies Review: “Beauty and The Beast” – There’s Nothing There That Wasn’t There Before
by Mike Reyes
Disney’s latest live-action remake does little to improve on the original, but still hits the same high notes… and that’s the problem.
2010’s Alice in Wonderland sparked a new era in film-making at Walt Disney Studios. In addition to creating new characters in their animated division, the legendary movie factory decided that it was time to start revising and re-imagining their finest classics. Soon, Maleficent, Cinderella, and The Jungle Book all followed, and cleaned up the box office, paving the way for Beauty and The Beast to continue that tradition. Director Bill Condon’s film will definitely clean up, but for all of the wrong reasons.
Belle (Emma Watson) is tired of her mundane existence, and wants something more out of life. And something more she gets, when she imprisons herself in order to safe her father (Kevin Kline) from a beastly prince (Dan Stevens.) But not everything is what it seems, and soon the girl and the prince are in love, despite the outside world becoming more hostile to the prince’s shadowy legacy – all thanks to a disgruntled would-be suitor (Luke Evans.)
You know the story of Beauty and The Beast, and that’s exactly what you’re getting with this movie. Sure, there’s some new songs and a little bit of backstory thrown in to pad out the live-action version of the 1991 Disney classic, but it’s all too little to even justify being included. A couple of new songs and characters, some details on the fate of Belle’s mother, and outright making Lefou lust after Gaston are basically your new elements of storytelling in 2017’s Beauty and The Beast.
There’s no reinvention in this version of the classic fairy tale, and that’s what ultimately what hurts Beauty and The Beast the most. While it surely nails the best moments of the film, with “Be Our Guest” and “Gaston” still standing out, there’s no sense of curiosity when it comes to re-imagining the story. With all of the live-action remakes that came before it, even the odious Alice In Wonderland that Tim Burton crapped out almost a decade ago, there was enough of a new approach to warrant the existence of a new film.
Of course, Beauty and The Beast isn’t a total waste, as seeing some of your favorite moments come to full CGI life are quite exciting. And the supporting cast totally steals this film from its leads, in particular the Lefou / Gaston double act portrayed by Josh Gad and Luke Evans. Not to mention, the entire cast of castle staffers we’ve come to know and love all shine with actors like Sir Ian McKellan, Ewan McGregor and Emma Thompson at the forefront. Though there’s plenty of room in your heart for newcomers like Stanley Tucci and Audra MacDonald, whose Cadenza and Garderobe are so endearing that they deserve more screen time by and large.
So why, with all of these positives is Beauty and The Beast still a wasted effort? Well, it’s because the other animate originals that were remade existed more children’s tales created to entertain, rather than a three dimensional story. Cinderella and The Jungle Book both proved just how amazing remaking these classic tales could be, so the fact that Beauty and The Beast picks up on a story that was already perfect and just slaps some new material into the mix is kind of insulting. Basically, it’s the cinematic equivalent of picking the easy book for your book report, rather than challenging yourself to pull off a more difficult feat.
If they Disney live-action remakes were a shared universe, much like Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, then Beauty and The Beast is the Ant-Man of the lot: just entertaining enough to exist, but not enough to dazzle or challenge. Maybe if Guillermo del Toro brought this project to life as was initially intended, we’d have something interesting to talk about here. But if you’re a die hard fan with a craving for nostalgia, then you’re surely the perfect guest for this film.
My Rating: 3.5 / 5