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. 

 

Final Fantasy 7 Remake Thoughts

Final Fantasy

Final Fantasy 7 changed my life.

I played the original Playstation version a few years after it came out, getting the Playstation in part just to play that game. I was introduced to a demo of it, and while it was only the first 20 minutes of play, I was amazed at the scale. The whole story managed to exceed my expectations. I had no idea video games could create such a profound sense of storytelling. I played the other Final Fantasies and liked them, but this one remained special.

There was just one problem. The graphics were horrible. They could give you headaches just looking at them. You basically had to imagine what it would really look like, as if reading a book, but with all the crazy hairstyles, even that wasn’t easy. Things like Advent Children came along and recreated the characters in life like detail, but they didn’t really feel like the original. I felt like they lost the spirit of FF7. I wanted the story retold, remade.

I had been hoping for this game for so long that I never believed it would happen. So I was stunned when the announcement trailer finally came out. Stunned, and wondering if it was an April fool’s day joke (despite not being April).

News has been pretty scarce, but then this trailer came out, focusing only on those first twenty minutes I saw in that demo so long ago, and I have hopes that they will be able to faithfully recreate the game.

I try to be optimistic, but there are a few details that keep my expectations down. Barret with sunglasses? His voice (are these going to be the actual voice actors?) Wedge’s squeaky voice was especially jarring. And I fear battles might get a little too Kingdom Heart-y, with sparkles all over the screen. But the trailer also lost the loftiness and mumbo jumbo of the compilation of FF7 games and media and went back to the roots, which is good.

I’m glad the battle system is not turn based anymore, it would look especially out of place with the new graphics. I just hope it doesn’t go over the top (although FF7’s summons could do just that, basically destroying the world to hurt one bad guy. Or the solar system.)

I am a little disappointed by the announcement to make this episodic. I just hope that each part doesn’t cost $60. I don’t even have a PS4 yet, and don’t want to add substantially to that cost. I also wonder how long we’ll have to wait between episodes. If it’s too long, some people might not stick around long enough to see the ending of a game they’ve already played.

Still, I’m cautiously optimistic.

More info here.

Triforce of Gaming

I mentioned that FF7 changed my life. Two other games did so as well, although not as much in the story telling department. They are The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and Super Smash Bros. So imagine my surprise when Cloud was announced for Smash Bros. I could now use Cloud against Link or vice versa and have them battle it out. I only have Smash Bros. on a 2DS, but it’s still fun. And there’s the possibility that this means Final Fantasy 7 Remake will come for the Nintendo NX, where I could play Smash, Zelda, and Final Fantasy all on one console!