Beauty and the Beast Review

Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast – The New One

So I finally went to see Beauty and the Beast, despite some reluctance. I was having a hard time with Hermione, a know-it-all girl I saw growing up into a know-it-all woman, as Belle. Although the effect wasn’t as bad as I feared, I never quite got over that.  I was also having a hard time getting over the fact that Disney was telling the exact same story as the animated feature, instead of taking a deeper look at the source material like they did with The Jungle Book. Aside from a few forgettable song additions and a more robust backstory, this is almost scene for scene the same movie, just brought to “life” (even though half the movie is still animated, just with computer graphics). 

Still, I liked the original enough to give this one a try. For the most part, I liked this. There’s nothing revolutionary here, but it does a good job. But remaking a classic animation invites comparisons and I’m going to do just that.

Criticisms of the Original

If you’ve seen any film theory videos on the original Beauty and the Beast, you’ll find two main criticisms, both of which are nitpicky, in my opinion.

The first criticism is that Belle is suffering from Stockholm Syndrome. That is where a kidnapped person identifies and sides with their captor. This new film doesn’t really address that issue, although Hermione did in interviews. But Belle voluntarily became a prisoner to free her father. The Beast didn’t kidnap her. And he eventually makes an effort to court her and treat her as a guest. So I don’t think this one holds.

This film directly addresses the second criticism, the muddled timeline. In the original, the Beast will remain cursed if he doesn’t find true love before his 21st birthday. Lumiere, in the song “Be Our Guest,” tells Belle that they have been rusting for 10 years now. So that implies the Beast received his curse when he was 11 years old. This would make his refusal of the enchantress more understandable, as he was just a bratty boy. But the original also had a painting of him as an adult human, so the curse couldn’t have taken place in his boyhood. In the end, it doesn’t make much sense either way.

This new one makes clear the enchantress cursed him as an adult. It also avoids any mention of a time span. Another thing this version does is mention how the nearby villagers forgot about the castle and its inhabitants. 

New Problems

While this new version of Beauty and the Beast addresses those issues, it introduces a few new ones. The biggest one, in my opinion, is a book that lets the two of them travel outside the castle. If the magic mirror wasn’t enough, the Beast has this new magic power. But its use is confusing.

Belle travels to her home in Paris. Spoiler alert: her mom is dead. She died from the plague. Belle goes to a home that appears recently abandoned, as there are still drawings of her as a baby there. So did she travel in time? The film also makes clear it is real, not just in their minds, as Belle takes a rose pen thing from the home and later shows it to her father. But in the flashback, Belle’s mother, sick with the plague, kisses it. So does Belle contract the plague as well? And if she can travel in time, could she save her mother? This device just adds new complications.

Technical issues

It is pretty clear they live in France (there is a song about people saying Bonjour). But Hermione has an English accent, while Obi Wan Kenobi hams up his French accent. It doesn’t make sense.

Speaking of Obi Wan Kenobi, who plays Lumiere, he steals the show, but I still think I prefer the original one. The singing worked better and I liked his animation better in the original Beauty and the Beast. Gandalf, playing Cogsworth, just sounds like an old man, not as fun as the original. The Hobbit’s Bard did a great job as manly man Gaston. And Olaf added depth to LeFou, while keeping the gay character controversy low key.

There were a few issues with the Beast. Although usually good, there were a few times the animation wasn’t smooth. And he looked more like a satyr than the buffalo hulk monster in the original Beauty and the Beast. His bad manners make no sense, since he was a prince before. And he tells Gaston in the end that he is no beast, while Belle calls him Beast just a moment later. 

One technical issue I saw was the scene transitions. Some scenes feel rushed. It is as if the director is saying, “You already saw this in the original and know what they’re thinking, so let’s just cut to the chase.” It was a bit jarring. The scenes didn’t flow into each other as well. Their falling in love scenes especially suffered from that, although I did enjoy seeing Hermione clocked in the face with a giant snowball. 

Overall

Overall, I enjoyed this Beauty and the Beast, but I don’t think it tops the original animated version, which was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. This one won’t get that. The original flowed better, the servants fit in an animated world better, and Belle didn’t annoy me like Hermione occasionally did. But it was nice to see things imagined realistically. 

 

What I think about Batman V Superman

Batman

Sorry, this isn’t a review of Batman v Superman, I’m not one of the privileged few to have seen the movie before it came out, (if you want that, go here). But I did want to weigh in on my thoughts and the journey they’ve taken while waiting for the movie to come out.

Man of Steel gave me mixed feelings. I liked it, but there were things I didn’t like as well. Like the wanton destruction. And seeing it a second time wasn’t as interesting. The fights got boring pretty fast. In fact, I liked the trailers for the movie much better than the movie itself. So a few days after that came out, Zack Snyder announced that the sequel would be Batman versus Superman. At first, I thought the idea was ridiculous. How could a mortal Batman even hope to challenge Superman, and why even try? It sounded gimmicky. And for a long time, that’s all I thought it would be.

Batman Comic Book

I eventually got The Dark Knight Returns (graphic novel) from the local library and read the story of:

*spoiler alert*

An old Batman coming out of retirement, dealing with his frailer body and a city that doesn’t want him, finally taking out the Joker, getting accused of murder, and finally taking on a Superman (working for the government) that was recently weakened after surviving a nuclear blast. You know, all the things we plan on doing after retiring.

*end spoiler alert*

A lot of people have praised that series, but it didn’t impress me overly much, nor did it give me any answers as to why they would fight in the movie (in the comicsĀ it didn’t make a whole lot of sense, either, other than a way for Batman to go out with a bang).

Trailer

I thought little of the movie until the second trailer came out. Then it did something I hadn’t expected: it showed consequences to Superman’s actions in Man of Steel. And Bruce Wayne witnessed that destruction, which turned him against Superman. That spoke to a depth that Man of Steel didn’t really have.

That trailer raised my expectations. Unfortunately, the third one lowered them again when it showed Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman all teamed up against Doomsday. It took out the tension of wondering if Superman and Batman would get along (not that there was any doubt) and seemed to reveal the entire movie. The only thing that makes me cautiously optimistic is that some of the early reviews claim that the trailer didn’t in fact ruin the movie. So we’ll see.

They also say this is a darker film than the Christopher Nolan trilogy. I’m not sure if that’s good or not. Part of the appeal of the Marvel movies is how they blend the humor with the action. Man of Steel, the only movie so far in this DC cinematic universe, had very little humor and looking back at it, it seemed bleak.

No matter how the movie rates, I think some people will be off put by this up and down set of expectations. But they might also be curious. I think Civil War will be more successful. What do you think?

By the way, go Team Superman.