Beauty and the Beast has been a beloved classic of the Disney franchise since its first release in 1991, so much so that Disney decided to create a live action version of the film. Although Beauty and the Beast was a financial success, making $900 million at the box office so far, the movie itself is nothing short of a rehash. The main mishaps are subpar acting, its “original additions,” and the blatant autotune which is evident throughout the entire the film.
Emma Watson, who plays Belle, , is a bad actress. Her expression rarely changes from bored disappointment to the kind of smile you make when you don’t find a joke funny but smile out of politeness anyway. During the finale, my friend and I could barely withhold our laughter as Belle tried to act amazed at the Beast transforming back into the prince but only conveyed that green screens are apparently not very interesting to look at. She looked extremely underwhelmed, with the same glaze encasing her eyes as she’d worn since she entered the beautiful CG castle . Also, it is worth to noting that whenever Belle shrieks “Papaa!”, a fairy dies.
Dan Stevens, who played the Beast, was a decent performer, though he is nothing revolutionary.
The only real treats to watch were LeFou and Maurice, played by Josh Gad and Kevin Kline respectively, whose subtle expressions conveyed deeper explanation than their lines. The difference between LeFou and Belle was that while Belle read off a script, LeFou acted through his script.
The movie has some major faults in its modernizing of this fairy tale. In some scenes, it is a copy-and-paste of the original with added scenes and characters that don’t fit in with the pacing and the vibe. While breathing some life into an old tale is a great way to liven up a remake, Beauty and the Beast throws in seemingly random scenes and sub-plots that are abandoned almost as soon as they arrive. For instance, Mrs. Potts explains that after the Beast’s mother died, he was raised to be cruel and heartless by his father, who exhibited those traits himself. However the only scene we see of the father is a snapshot of him leading the young beast away. The directors could have taken the opportunity to expand upon this, or created a more substantial connection between Belle and the Beast, whose mothers both succumbed to illness. Instead they leave it alone, never to be addressed again.
The gay hype about LeFou is best described as a slap in the face. If five seconds of dancing with another man and a bunch of offhanded couples jokes are considered revolutionary in the twenty-first century, I am sorely disappointed.
The only real, interesting, quality change was to Gaston’s character. Originally, Gaston was just a dumb hunter who genuinely believed that he was doing the right thing in trying to kill the beast—he did hold Belle prisoner after all—but in this new version, he turned into a deliberately evil character who went so far as to leave Belle’s father to the wolves in order to achieve his goal of marrying Belle.
When it came to the songs, I must admit Watson did sound magnificent… like a beautiful robot. When I asked my little sister and her friends their opinions, they immediately go straight to the songs. “It took me out of it,” said my sister’s friend Isabella, “she sounded so weird.” The excessive autotune took away any emotion. It was distracting.
All in all, Beauty and the Beast is a poor attempt at imitating the majesty of the original and at making this new version its own thing. However, all these flaws can be overlooked because of sheer nostalgia. If you go in thinking you will love it, then you will love it.
(Copyright 2017 Annie Mulholland)