Live Action Beauty and the Beast: A Review

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I try not to get excited about new movies and this is why. I love the original animated Disney Beauty & the Beast (which I have mentioned before in my Favored Fairytales entry on the subject). But I also love the idea of a Beauty humanizing a Beast in general. It’s such a compelling story, so I was looking forward to seeing a live action adaptation. I was curious to see how they would play the story, what kind of depth would be imparted to the characters, a new spin on a “tale as old as time.”

What I got was an often inferior carbon copy of the original animated version.

I cannot express how much this disappoints me. Don’t get me wrong; the movie isn’t bad per se. I don’t feel like I should demand my money back or that I wasted my time. It’s competently done. The singing (for the most part) is good, the CGI passable, the sets rich and ornate (albeit over-Baroqued), the costumes were pretty, and I enjoyed the talking furniture. There are some good moments between Belle and her father, both Gaston and LeFou were entertaining, and some of the plot holes from the animated film were explained (like how Gaston knew where the castle was, what happened to Belle’s mother, and why everyone didn’t seem to know that a giant, impossible-to-miss castle was sitting within a day’s ride of the village).

But.

There were so many things they could have done to enrich the characters, to deepen the story, that were missed. What depth the animated version had was mostly lost in the translation to live action, and what backstory there was felt pasted in as an afterthought rather than integrated into the film.

While I could go on at length pointing out all the flaws of the film (which others have done in great detail), I want to focus on three main points whose poor execution crippled the live action film:
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Favored Fairytales: Beauty and the Beast

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This entry is part of an on-going series discussing my favorite fairytales and their multiple modern re-tellings.  Any entries relating to this topic will be labeled “Favored Fairytales.” 

 

Have you ever found yourself consuming numerous variations of a single story?  I go through different spurts, often tied to genre, but sometimes a particular kind of story grabs me and won’t let go until it’s sated.  So I wanted to talk about one of my favorite fairytales, one that is probably familiar to most people.

Like most kids, I was raised on Disney films.  Some I always felt lukewarm about, some that used to be favorites no longer appeal to me, even though I can appreciate the talent and artistry that went into making them.  I never liked Sleeping Beauty and I was always ambivalent about Snow White and Cinderella.  Some, like The Lion King and Mulan, have withstood the test of time and remain favorites.  When I was a kid, The Little Mermaid was my favorite, hands down.  But now, as an adult, a different film has risen to the top of the list:  Beauty and the Beast.

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