Disney’s classic tale remake feels too cartoonish to be taken seriously
The new trend in Hollywood these days is to take flawless and beloved classics and remake them as big budget, over-produced, extravagant blockbusters. Cinderella got that treatment, The Jungle Book also got that same treatment, and now, Beauty And The Beast is forced to have this very treatment.
Being the first animated movie to be nominated for Best Picture will surely tell you that Beauty And The Beast doesn’t need remaking. However, did The Jungle Book deserve a remake? Of course not but Disney found a way to improve upon different aspects in a way that will speak to a modern audience. Beauty And The Beast surely does improve in places but sadly, downgrades in most parts leaving Disney’s latest remake with a chip in its cup.
Belle (Emma Watson) is a misunderstood woman that is way ahead of her time. She is very much happy with her face buried in a book. Although she is very beautiful, she refuses to marry the most handsome man in her small town, the arrogant Gaston (Luke Evans). Instead, she wishes to explore the world and get out of this small-minded town that doesn’t really have a liberal view towards women.
One day, her father (Kevin Kline) goes off to town. He soon encounters the Beast (Dan Stevens) who brings him prisoner for stealing a rose in his garden. Belle is forced to come to her father’s rescue by switching places with him as the Beast’s prisoner. Belle may be the only woman who can break the curse that has dawned on Adam and his servants.
If you do not know what happens next, then you might be living under a rock. The Beauty And The Beast story is famous at this point, but screenwriters Stephen Chbosky and Evan Spiliotopoulos are still able to add some surprising elements. The best one being Belle’s backstory. Not only did it add some depth to an already lovable character but it created a lovely family dynamic between Belle and her father.
By far the best depiction of a character is Luke Evans as Gaston. His line deliveries, his charming quirks, and his funny facial gestures are what made Gaston such an interesting figure in the original. Although changes are made, and his character is taken down a darker path, Evans is still provided with funny and peculiar Disney-like moments.
Though, these Disney-like moments do not always translate well on screen. Perhaps the best thing about the 1991 version was its talking household items. But in the remake, these characters are very much devoid of the fun aspects they had in the original. Lumiere (Ewan McGregor), Cogsworth (Ian McKeller), Mrs. Potts (Emma Thompson) and Chip (Nathan Mack) are all present in the remake as CGI characters. And while the actors do a good job trying to connect with the audience, the idea that talking candles and clocks would exist in such a realistic world setting seems silly. The beloved and over the top musical number “Be Our Guest,” that worked so perfectly in the animated movie, is rather foolish in the realistic setting.
Much of it translate to the Beast as well where the audience is devoided of its emotional scenes with Belle. The Beast isn’t quite on par with other more realistic CGI characters that Disney has produced in other live-action movies such as The Jungle Book. And while that may seem like such meaningless flaw, it becomes apparent once we are to take this walking talking computer monster as an emotional being. In his grand musical number “Evermore,” The Beast sings out his emotions toward Belle. His voice, already computer generated, is covered with yet another layer, this time glossy autotune (which is noticeable as Watson sings as well).
I have praised the screenwriters for incorporating new elements to Beauty And The Beast, but I have failed to mention that not all add-ons works as well as Belle’s backstory. The most useless and quite frankly irresponsible added element is LeFou (Josh Gad) being a gay character. Director Bill Condon (Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2) has made it public that an “exclusively gay scene” will be in Beauty And The Beast. Honestly, the scene is disposable and will only be noticeable to the people who seek it. Much of the so-called “gay scenes” are played for laughs, and LeFou becomes yet another stereotypical caricature of a gay man. If the remake of Beauty And The Beast served as a way to showcase their beloved classic to a modern audience, then they have failed in this aspect.
Disney will no doubt continue to adapt their much-adored fairy tales as they already have The Little Mermaid, Alaadin, and Mulan up next. While The Jungle Book proved that Disney could possibly achieve it, Beauty And The Beast shows that they still have some issues to overcome. A big part of it is how will they adapt the more cartoonish Disney tropes into big budget live-action blockbusters. I’m sure Disney will find a way, but for now, they are forced to live with a rare failure on their part.
Beauty And The Beast is released on March 17th in Canada and the United States.