Beauty and the Beast (2017)

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I don’t think any other review of mine on this blog has been more anticipated by you readers than today’s own! Knowing how I feel about these live-action remakes, in general, and knowing how the 1991 animated film is my favorite Disney film of all time, you can imagine that I have a lot to say regarding this remake! So without further ado, let’s delve into the Beauty and the Beast remake!

And remember, SPOILERS AHEAD!

The film opens up to a lavish party taking place at the Prince’s castle.

I’m half expecting the Phantom of the Opera to walk in!

The Prince, played by Dan Stevens, lives a luxurious life and like many princes, his heart isn’t as open and loving as one would wish for! This is evident when he turns away a poor, old woman, who sought shelter in his castle, because she was unattractive. This is a bad move as the woman reveals herself to be a beautiful enchantress! She places a curse on the Prince and all who live there: The Prince takes on a Beast-like form, the servants become household objects, and the local townspeople are made to forget about the existence of the castle, the Prince, and all in it!

(One thing that is evident about this remake from the very beginning is that it tries to “explain every plot hole from the original animated film”. For example, people always wondered that since the Beast was a prince, how did his kingdom just forget about him and the curse? And now we know why, they themselves have been cursed to forget! As the movie continues, we’ll see many more of these plot holes be explained!)

First to get 3 in a row wins!

Anyway, the only way the spell can be broken is if the Beast learns to love a woman (and she him) before the last petal falls off of an enchanted rose.

We then cut to the nearby village many years later wherein our heroine, Belle, played by Emma Watson, leads us into the song, Belle. And let’s just say that I never knew what the word, “autotune” meant until I heard Emma Watson sing in this song!

As the song explains, Belle is your storybook-loving girl who wants more in life than this “poor, provincial town” can offer her. She’s also quite beautiful and is desired by the local war hero, Gaston, played by Luke Evans, to be his wife. He is incredibly handsome and loved by the ladies except for Belle, unfortunately. Belle considers Gaston to be arrogant and obsessed with himself, but honestly in this version, I didn’t really get that vibe from this Gaston. The Gaston in the animated film was definitely full of himself, but from what we’ve seen so far of this Gaston, I didn’t see any reason why Belle could dislike him so much!

Anyway, Belle’s father, Maurice, played by Kevin Kline, is a reclusive widower clockmaker. He’s headed to the market to sell his clock(s) and asks Belle what she wants him to bring back for her. She tells him to bring her back a rose like he does every year.

Well, something needs to move the plot forward, right?

As Maurice heads on his way with his horse, Philippe, through the woods, he decides to take a shortcut. This proves unfruitful as he just ends up getting himself lost, confronting dangerous animals,

Beware the Night Howlers!

and eventually stumbling upon the enchanted castle hidden away in the woods.

He goes inside seeking help and shelter, but when he realizes that the objects are enchanted, he gets scared and leaves. But before he rides away, he remembers his promise to Belle, and picks a rose from the outside garden of the castle to take back to her.

Because…promises trump fear?

However, the Beast catches Maurice doing this and locks him away for life in his dungeon for stealing.

“All this for a rose?”
“You’re telling me!”

Meanwhile, Philippe escapes back to Belle who notices that something is wrong. She then is taken by Philippe back to the castle where she finds that the Beast has imprisoned her father. She makes a deal with the Beast to let her take her father’s place and release Maurice. The Beast agrees to this, but Belle secretly has plans for escaping as soon as she gets the chance. You see, unlike the animated film, she doesn’t give her word to stay forever and she gets to say goodbye to her father, so the scene isn’t as emotional as it probably should have been.

As Belle spends more time in the castle, she meets the enchanted servants of the castle. There’s the candelabra, Lumiere, voiced by Ewan McGregor,

“Use the force, Belle! Join the light side!”

the majordomo mantel clock, Cogsworth, voiced by Ian McKellen,

“Keep her secret. Keep her safe!”

the housekeeper teapot and her son, Chip, voiced by Emma Thompson and Nathan Mack, respectively,

Maybe substitutiary locomotion may help her situation?

the feather duster maid, Plumette, voiced by Gugu Mbatha-Raw, a harpsichord, Maestro Cadenza, voiced by Stanley Tucci, his wardrobe wife, Madame de Garderobe, voiced by Audra McDonald, and their pet footstool, Frou-Frou.

Wrong Frou-Frou!
Ah, that’s better!

They all do their best to make Belle feel at home and try to get Belle and the Beast to fall in love with each other. Belle wonders why the servants were cursed when it was the Prince who turned away the beggar woman? The servants tell her it’s because they witnessed him becoming a worse human being as he got older and didn’t do anything about it.

Meanwhile, back in the village, Gaston is depressed that Belle had rejected his proposal of marriage earlier and his loyal sidekick, LeFou, played by Josh Gad, cheers him up with a rendition of the song, Gaston. Unlike the animated film, this song seems to just spring up out of nowhere, but it incorporates previously unheard lyrics, so it’s still a joy to listen to and watch.

After the song ends, Maurice bursts in trying to explain to the villagers how the Beast has Belle locked in a dungeon. Of course, nobody in town believes “Crazy Old Maurice”, but Gaston, eager to win the affection of his hope-to-be future father-in-law, volunteers to go with Maurice into the forest to find Belle.

Back at the castle, we’re treated to the showstopper of the film, my favorite Disney song of all time, Be Our Guest, performed by Lumiere! I must say they did a great job getting this song and all its visuals right! I feel this would have looked amazing in 3D!

Afterwards, Belle decides to explore the forbidden West Wing of the castle wherein lies the enchanted rose. The Beast is there and is angry/scared that Belle was about to do something to the rose to damn them all. He angrily tells her to get out, but it’s not as “out-of-control-ly” as the animated version where the Beast screams at Belle and breaks furniture. Belle runs away from the castle on Philippe and the enchanted objects try to stop her, but she manages to escape. Unluckily for her, she gets into trouble with some of the wolves outside, but the Beast comes to her aid and fights off the wolves. He’s injured from the attack, so Belle takes him back to the castle and nurses him back to health.

Meanwhile, Maurice is unable to relocate the castle in the woods and Gaston is getting more and more impatient with him. Gaston believes that Maurice has made all of this up and when Maurice tells Gaston that he’ll never let him marry Belle, Gaston gets angry! He knocks Maurice out and leaves him in the woods to be eaten by the wolves. With her father dead, Belle would have nobody to take care of her, forcing her to marry Gaston!

“No one plots like Gaston! Takes cheap shots like Gaston! Likes to persecute harmless crackpots like Gaston!”

Back at the castle, Belle learns more about the Beast including more of his backstory. Apparently, the Beast’s mother died when he was very young and the Beast’s father was a cruel man who raised the Prince to be just like him. We get to hear one of the new songs, Days in the Sun, where all the characters sing about how they long for the days gone past again. It’s basically the Human Again of this remake, but (*unpopular opinion warning*), I actually like Human Again better.

As the days go by, Belle and the Beast talk with each other more and start to get closer. The Beast shows Belle his library and after seeing how much she loves it, he gives it to her as a gift. Their blossoming feelings for each other is apparent in their “duet”, Something There.

He even shows her a special time-and-space-traveling book that the Enchantress gave him which allows him to “travel” to different places and times. He lets Belle use it to find out what happened to her mother. She always knew that her mother was dead, but never knew how. She finds out that her mother died in Paris due to the plague. I honestly don’t really know what this scene had to do with anything as it didn’t affect any part of Belle’s character in any way! (As one of my friends told me, Belle knew her mother was dead already, so why does it matter how?) This scene felt incredibly pointless to me and could have easily been cut, in my opinion.

We basically included this scene to get BINGO!

Getting back to Maurice, he’s later rescued by the mute hermit of the village, Agathe, played by Hattie Morahan, who finds him in the woods. After he’s revived, he heads back to the village and accuses Gaston in front of every one of leaving him to die in the woods! Gaston, however, convinces the townspeople that Maurice is mad and needs to be taken to the asylum.

Back at the castle, the Beast has asked Belle for a dance in the ballroom to which she agrees. The two get ready and as they dance, Mrs. Potts sings the famous Beauty and the Beast song. While not bad, I much prefer seeing the CAPS animation-style of the animated film over this one; it just seemed more magical.

I mean, just look at their translucent shadows underneath them in the picture on the left!

After the dance, the Beast plans to tell Belle that he loves her. Before he can do that though, Belle mentions how she misses her father and the Beast decides to let her see her father via a special magic mirror. (Why he doesn’t just use the special magic book, I don’t know!) In the mirror, Belle sees that the villagers are putting her father into a wagon to be taken to the asylum. She realizes that her father needs help and the Beast allows her to leave the castle and go help her Maurice.

As she leaves, we get what is in my opinion, the best thing about this remake, an original song sung by the Beast entitled, Evermore, about how Belle will always impact him even though she’s no longer with him. It’s a sad moment as the Beast realizes that there went his last chance to be free from the curse as the last petal is soon to fall from the enchanted rose. I’m calling it from now: this song will win Best Original Song at next year’s Academy Awards (unless The Greatest Showman gives us something better)!

Belle makes it to the village in time and shows everyone via the magic mirror how everything Maurice has said is true. Gaston uses this opportunity though to convince the villagers that the Beast is dangerous and needs to be killed. They lock Belle with her father in the asylum wagon so they can’t go off to warn the Beast while they all get their weapons ready to storm the castle. As they march toward the castle (the location whereof Gaston discovers via the magic mirror), we get the blood-riling song, The Mob Song.

Luckily, Maurice is good with lock mechanisms and manages to pick the lock of the wagon freeing both him and Belle. Belle then rushes back to the castle on Philippe before it’s too late!

Meanwhile, Gaston and the villagers have infiltrated the castle which seems a bit quiet at first, but the enchanted objects spring to life and give the villagers a fight that they deserve! Almost all the villagers run away defeated, but Gaston trudges up the castle and attempts to kill the Beast when he finds him.

The Beast, too depressed about Belle leaving, seems to be losing the bout, but when Belle reappears at the castle, the Beast regains his drive and overpowers Gaston. He almost kills Gaston, but the Beast’s new, kind heart prevents him from doing that and instead lets Gaston go. This proves to be a bad move as Gaston shoots the Beast from the back. Right afterwards, Gaston falls to his death below when a piece of the castle that he’s standing on crumbles beneath him.

And he shall smite the wicked and plunge them into the fiery pit!

The Beast appears to die which causes Belle to cry and tell him that she loves him. The last petal falls and all seems lost as all the enchanted objects say their goodbyes to each other and turn into inanimate knickknacks. But, in walks Agathe who turns out to be the enchantress from the beginning of the film!

But if you watched the film with the subtitles on (like I always do), you knew that since the beginning of the film, so it wasn’t really a big twist at all!

She sees that the Beast has learned to love and ends the curse once and for all! The Beast awakens back in his human form as do the servants. The villagers regain their memory of the castle and the Prince and rush there to meet everyone again. Mrs. Potts is reunited with her husband from the village, Cogsworth is reunited with his wife from the village, and Belle and the Beast truly live happily ever after!

Belle sounds like a low-key Muslim girl, lol!

And that was the Beauty and the Beast remake! Boy, do I have a lot to say about this movie. First off, is it a bad movie? You know, honestly, it does what it set out to do. It intends to tell the fairy tale of the beautiful girl who falls in love with a cursed beast and it does just that. The film itself is overall a well-made film with wonderful visuals, great acting performances, and of course, a great soundtrack despite the autotuned singing.

(One other new song that I didn’t mention was How Does a Moment Last Forever which is first sung by Maurice and describes the relationship he and his wife had. Belle sings it again later when she finds out the truth of how her mother died.)

However, this movie does have many problems and the biggest problem, to me, at least, is that the movie is not enjoyable. The film seems to be fully mechanical without worrying about imbuing magic and charm into it. It tries to check off multiple things from a list (tell the story, check, fix all the plot holes from the animated film, check) that the emotional connection of the film is lost.

The film also suffers from an identity disorder where it doesn’t really know what it’s trying to be. It wants to stay true to the animated film, but it also struggles with trying to make changes to it. I still believe that the whole “magic book” scene was a deus ex machina that added nothing to Belle’s character development or overall plot.

Speaking of Belle, another issue I had is that the characters of Belle and the Beast were written differently compared to the animated film, as if they’re different characters. One of the biggest examples of this, to me, is the scene where Belle discovers that her father is being taken to the asylum. In the animated film, when Belle realizes that her father may be dying in the woods, the Beast doesn’t automatically give her permission to leave. He ruminates the decision and you can see it in his eyes and hand as he passes it over the glass enclosure where the rose is being kept. After a few seconds, only then does he tell her to go to her father, and that he even does hesitantly!

Just look at all that emotion!

In this film, as soon as Belle mentions that her father needs her help, the Beast gives her permission to leave as if there were no question about it! That definitely is not something the Beast I know would have done.

No hesitation, no rumination, nothing!

Also in this film, Belle doesn’t thank the Beast for saving her life from the wolves until way later on in the film. In the animated film, she thanks him once she gets him back to the castle. They just seem like two different Belles to me!

And I guess I need to briefly mention something about this whole gay “controversy” with LeFou. Honestly, the scene that started this whole controversy is literally a 2-second scene where LeFou dances with another guy. That’s it! It is incredibly short and not worthy of being boycotted! Had the media not made a big deal about it, that scene would have just gone under everyone’s noses and nothing would have been made of it. It doesn’t matter whether you’re pro-gay marriage, anti-gay marriage, or whatever, that’s your business. But, something we all can agree on is that the scene in this movie just isn’t worth having a controversy over!

Summing up, the movie honestly doesn’t have incredibly MAJOR problems. They’re not minor problems, by any means, but they’re somewhere between minor and major. My feelings for this film are similar to my feelings for the 2016 The Jungle Book remake. Objectively, it’s a well-made film with problems, of course, but it’s not a film that I personally “enjoyed” watching. Technically, it hits all the right notes, but personally, it just falls flat for me. I don’t have any desire to watch it again, at least not anytime soon.

(You can click on the image below for an enlarged version of my rating sheet.)

So, the final score for this film is 28/35 = 80% (B-) !

The next review will be posted on July 24, 2017.

BONUS: I recorded myself (badly) singing Evermore as I loved the song so much. Feel free to give it a listen if you don’t mind your eardrums dying.

22 thoughts on “Beauty and the Beast (2017)

  1. Yeah I liked the big musical set pieces but had a lot of nitpicky problems and I thought Emma Watson was a miss and her singing was awful

  2. As this appears to be just a rehash of the 1991 original, I’ll definitely be avoiding this one.

    The fact that they didn’t even try to do something original with this property makes me hope all the harder against hope that the remakes of ALADDIN and LION KING will include elements taken from their initial treatments.

  3. I think I agree with your basic thoughts on the movie. I was born too late to see the 1991 film in the theater, so it was very special for me to get to see this live-action version on the big screen with my aunt. It probably isn’t as good as the original, and it probably didn’t need to be made, but as it was made, it was done fairly well, in my view.

    I did dislike some of the changes that were made more than you, though. I think Gaston beating up Maurice made little sense as it was unclear how he felt beating up her father and leaving him to die in the woods would make Belle likely to marry him. It also comes out of nowhere and is almost comical to watch. (Contrary to what you said, Belle is a grown woman and doesn’t need her father to take care of her, and it bothers me that they reduce this to being an issue of Gaston needing her father’s blessing rather than getting approval from Belle herself.)

    It also did bother me that LeFou’s sexuality was such a minor issue to the point it was almost non-existent. I was hoping it would at least be acknowledged somehow to a point the children in the audience would need to be aware of his orientation and that gay people do exist. To be fair, we must consider that in this time period LeFou could not be openly gay or admit his sexuality to nearly anyone or he might well be thrown in the asylum with Maurice, but I think a Disney character who is openly gay and not a side character would be a good thing, as in my personal experience, children are inclined to judge and mock the LGBT community in ways they do not mock African-Americans, who are well integrated into children’s entertainment at this point. Doctor Who is far ahead of Americans when it comes to this. But we’ll just wait a bit longer for that, and I think it is worth pointing out that several gay rights groups were disappointed by that, and we should think about why.

    I don’t get the criticisms of Emma Watson, either. I’ve enjoyed her performances in every film I’ve seen her in, and the only one I found her obnoxious or annoying in was the first Harry Potter film, where she was supposed to be like that, as Hermione was a character with negative qualities that we had to warm up to. I think she played Belle well here, as a noncomformist bookworm character similar to Hermione, and she did her spin on that iconic song fairly well in my opinion.

    All-in-all, I’d like to thank you for being less harsh on this movie than other critics like Doug Walker and The Bald Frog who I am convinced went into this film planning to hate it on principle no matter what it turned out to be like. It does say something for you that the original film meant a lot to you, yet you were still willing to give this film a fair shake rather than simply panning it right off the bat.

    1. Thank you for your comments!

      The scene where Gaston beats up Maurice is important, to me, because this is where Gaston starts showing his bad side, imo. All throughout the film previously, he didn’t seem arrogant or pompous enough to warrant any dislike of him from Belle or Maurice. So when he beats up Maurice and leaves her to die, it is the turning point where he lets his “bad” come through. Also remember this is a society and time where it’s important to have the parents’ blessings before getting married.

      As you know I’m not in favor of these remakes, so I don’t support them financially by seeing them in theaters or buying the DVDs, but I’m not unjust to not rate the movie as fairly as I can. So yeah, I wasn’t gonna hate this movie just on principle, but I found things to hate about it and I found things to praise it for. I definitely wouldn’t wanna watch it again for a long time though.

      Who is The Bald Frog?

      1. You raise some true points, but that’s really what makes it come out of nowhere for me. Because Gaston hasn’t done anything that unlikable yet, it feels thrown in just to assert him as the film’s antagonist in case there was any doubt.

        It’s true that back then you would have needed a parent’s blessing to get married. But in the original, Maurice was more than willing to bless Belle’s marriage to Gaston, as it was clear at the start of the film he liked Gaston (before the latter threw him out of the bar and later tried to have him committed). So the real issue is that Belle doesn’t want to marry him. And in this version, it’s not really clear why Maurice would refuse to give Gaston his blessing, since as you said, Gaston hadn’t done anything really bad up to that point.

        I will provide you with a link to the Bald Frog’s review:

      2. I feel Maurice in this version just says Gaston won’t marry Belle because he doesn’t believe his story about the Beast and the castle and whatnot.

        Ohhhh, the frog guy from Unshaved Mouse, that’s who Bald Frog is! Ok yeah, I know who he is now.

  4. Not seen the movie yet, but plan to at some point. I really love the original, and honestly from what I’ve seen of the new movie, it doesn’t look like it’s even in the same league, but I’ll try to keep an open mind. Also, Belle’s yellow dress is ugly, garish and historically inaccurate, and my friend and I have been laughing at it ever since we saw photos of it!

    It might just be because you made that Phantom of the Opera joke, but the song “Evermore” really does remind me of the new song they wrote for the 2004 movie version of the musical.

    Andrew Lloyd-Webber wrote a new song to play over the credits (“Learn to be Lonely”), and then another song (set to the same music) that the Phantom would sing during the movie. The Phantom’s song got cut from the movie, but it’s an extra on the DVD.

    It’s the same kind of tone as “Evermore” – the sort of “she’s so amazing but I’ll never have her and my heart is forever broken” kind of soliloquy. I guess when you’re adding a new song but don’t want to actually change the plot, a heartfelt soliloquy is what you go for. That’s exactly what they did with Les Miserables – a new song, and it was a soliloquy sung by Jean Valjean, about his feelings on adopting little Cosette. The cynical amongst us will point out that they probably added it in an attempt to win Best Original Song at the Oscars.

    Anyway, this has been your bit of Phantom trivia for the day.

  5. Every time I tell people I have not seen this yet, they stare at me as if I were some kind of alien from Mars. But based on your review, it sounds like the things I was concerned about came to pass. If I watch it, I want to play your Bingo, though! 🙂

    I kind of hope they get off this remake kick and try something more original. There are many fairy tales that were never turned into animated films that they could adapt for the first time to live action!

    1. Just stare back at them and be like, “Wait, you guys actually watched it?”, lol!

      Lol, I could have made an even bigger Bingo with more slots, but I feel 9 were good enough!

      Yeah, you’re not missing anything if you don’t see this film. Had it not been for the premise of this blog to “review every live-action theatrical Disney movie ever”, I wouldn’t have watched this film.

      I do hope they get off this remake kick too, but they have so many planned/in production that we’ll be in this era for a while. They got Mulan, Aladdin, Winnie the Pooh, Dumbo, Cruella, a live-action adaptation of The Black Cauldron’s source material, Peter Pan, The Lion King, The Little Mermaid, Snow White, an adaptation of the Bald Mountain sequence of Fantasia, and Pinocchio all planned!

      1. Oh my goodness!!!! That’s a staggering number of remakes. How dispiriting.

        You might be on to something. I should brag about not seeing it instead turning shamefacedly away, Maybe if enough people protest by not watching, they will rethink their plans. Or maybe we need a petition to go with the boycott.

        It makes one wonder if, in twenty or thirty years, they will feel the need to “update” the live action films again.

      2. Yes, the only reason they will stop is if the films stop making money, but after BATB became the 10th highest grossing film ever, I don’t think they’re gonna stop very soon. The only ones that really underperformed were Alice Through the Looking Glass and Pete’s Dragon, but BATB, AIW, Jungle Book, Cinderella, they’ve all been mega hits!

        So that’s why I don’t see these movies in the cinema or buy them on home video; I’m not going to support them financially since I’m against them, in principle.

        The sad/odd thing is while many of us are against the remakes, many more are in favor of them and welcome them, so we’d have all them to fight as well, lol!

        If they decide to update their live-action remakes in 20/30 years time, they’ll definitely be scraping the bottom of the barrel!

  6. Well, I only saw Beauty and the Beast (2017) in the theater. And while I admire your stance, I will defend myself in pointing out that I am only one individual, and all the other remakes managed to become financial successes without my seeing them. Avatar is also the highest grossest film of all time, yet I failed to see it in the theater even once, and my brother is the only person in my immediate family I know who did.

    My entire family, on the other hand, went out to see Treasure Planet in the theater and that became one of the biggest box office flops in cinema history.

  7. Finally getting around to reading this! Of course I think you know that I mostly disagree with your final conclusion, just based on my own enjoyment of the film 😉 Which is to say that I liked it very much and it flowed well for me. I am glad that you enjoyed Evermore though, I think that song is amazing.

    1. Yeah, we’re gonna havta agree to disagree on our “love” for this film, lol!

      But yeah, Evermore is a great song and I think is sure to win the Oscar for Best Original Song this year unless The Greatest Showman comes up with something better.

      Thanks for reading!

  8. Though I don’t plan on actually watching this remake, I am willing to give the new songs written for it a try, to see how they stand up to the songs carried over from the original. (I warn you, though, I’ll be listening with a very critical ear…)

    1. Oh, that’s very understandable! Had I not made it my goal to watch “every theatrically-released live-action Disney film” for this blog, I would do the same thing that you did.

      The only new song I really recommend is ‘Evermore’, but that’s about it.

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