“Some changes I loved, some I hated, but at the end of the day I can look back and say that I did enjoy myself.”
Just a head’s up: This review is going to be full of spoilers for the 2017 version of Beauty and the Beast. This is because this “review” will essentially be me comparing this version of Beauty and the Beast to the original, and giving my opinions on the changes. If you want to know if you should see this movie, I would recommend it if you like musicals or the original Beauty and the Beast; but keep in mind that this version is slightly different.
Remakes have always been fascinating to me because they tell you a lot about the filmmaker, even more so than an original film. For a remake to happen someone would have to see the original and think to themselves: “I can do that better”; then we get a deeper understanding of their tastes depending on what they change about the movie. When I watched the original Beauty and the Beast the other day I didn’t think that anything needed to be changed, so when I walked into the 2017 remake I expected the same movie but a live-action version. What I got was a little different.
To start this review I want to talk about what I liked about the movie. First of all, I think it looked absolutely beautiful. The detail that went into every aspect of Beauty and the Beast to make it not only look, but feel like the original animated film was staggering. The sets were all (from what I could see) practical, but they still managed to get the same feel that the sets in the original film had. Seeing the small town from Beauty and the Beast come to life was something that put a huge smile on my face, and the same goes for every other set piece in the film. Not only were the sets magnificent, but the costume design was top-notch. Seeing these elaborate gowns and outfits realized was amazing. You could really tell that a lot of care went into making this movie, at the very least on a physical level. One thing that scared me before I saw the movie was the prospect of a shitload of CGI. Let’s face it, making Beauty and the Beast live-action would not be an easy task without the use of CGI. A myriad of walking/talking household items, a seven foot-tall prince-turned-beast, and a whole lot of wolves attacking various people; these are not things that can really be accomplished with practical effects. Despite knowing this, I was a little worried because I know that a little bad CGI can completely ruin a movie; luckily I was pleasantly surprised. The detail that went into the effects in Beauty and the Beast is second to none, and the way that these objects (specifically the furniture) was able to come to life and still look real was amazing. I will admit that there were a few shaky moments with the Beast and a few of the wolves, but that is understandable considering they are living objects. In spite of those minor hiccups the movie was able to shine and make me eat my words. I also felt that the acting was good, and the singing was (for the most part) great. I’ll get into the second point in a little bit.
Now we are going to get into the cynical part of this review, so buckle up. One question that was circling my head throughout the entire showing of Beauty and the Beast was: Why? I mentioned earlier that someone obviously saw the original movie and thought they could improve it, but the problem I had is that these changes didn’t really improve it at all. I can appreciate that someone saw the original Beauty and the Beast and thought the story could use some expanding in a few parts, but where the story was expanded in the remake is what puzzles me. For example: Who in the fuck watches the original Beauty and the Beast, sees LeFou (Gaston’s sidekick), and thinks: “Gee, I wonder what that guy’s story is. I want to know more about him”. The point of LeFou in the original is essentially to be Gaston’s hype man. He is there to pat him on the back when there are no mirrors around, but for some reason it was decided that he needed more depth. That’s fine in theory, but where they gave the character depth is what bothers me. I guess LeFou is in love with Gaston now. So what? He doesn’t act on it throughout the movie so having him obviously have feelings for Gaston seems forced. I know that I’m skirting the ‘homophobic-line’ here, so I’ll cut this short; but I just felt it was a waste. Speaking of character changes, what the fuck happened to the Beast? The Beast in the original film is a character that I respect. Not that I respect the character himself, but I respect the way that he was written. When everyone thinks it is necessary to have every character be relatable, Beauty and the Beast shows up and introduces a character who is just a fucking asshole. Never once in the original Beauty and the Beast did I think “Oh, that guy’s not so bad”, because he was so bad. He jumps at the opportunity to keep Belle prisoner, ushering out her father before she could even say goodbye, he orders her to come to dinner only lightening up when his teapot tells him to cut the shit, and he screams at her when she looks at his fucking rose. This dude is not nice, but you know what? That’s okay. We know that he’s not a nice guy because he got turned into the Beast in the fucking first place. In the remake it’s apparently not okay that he’s not a nice guy. He’s reluctant to have Belle stay at his castle, he didn’t want to have her for dinner, and then it is revealed that his father was mean to him? Who gives a shit? I don’t care why he is mean, I just know that he is mean. In the original movie I could infer that the Beast was turned into a beat because he was a fucking asshole, in the remake it makes it seem like he was turned into a Beast because he just doesn’t care. He wants to be left alone, he doesn’t care about becoming human; hell, it’s the fucking furniture that has to push him into the relationship. I thought the other parts of expansion were fine, but also a tad unnecessary; like the story of Belle’s mother. It was fine, but the movie didn’t need it; the characters didn’t need it. You could even tell that it was added after the fact because Belle says something along the lines of “My father could never tell me what happened to her”, despite them never really diving into the subject in the movie. It was like payoff even though there was no setup. The only part that really bothered me about that scene was the reveal that the enchantress had given Beast a magical book that can take him anywhere in the world. What the fuck? So she gave him a rose, a mirror, and a fucking book? Where did she get all of this shit? Why would she give a person who was an asshole to her a bunch of gifts? She cursed him, but then gave him a whole lot of cool shit. Was she trying to apologize for turning him into a Beast? Was it like a magical misfire? And why the book if he already has the mirror? Isn’t the point of the mirror to see whatever he wants anyway? isn’t that more of a punishment than saying “Hey, now you can go anywhere you want as well”. Like a lot of other changes in this version of the film, it just didn’t make sense.
I guess the last thing to discuss would be the music. To start I want to say that although the singing was fine (even great at times), I felt that Emma Watson was a little flat during a few songs. It was easier to notice when it was only her singing, but it was a feeling that I couldn’t shake. Now I’m not musically inclined so I could be way off-base, but it just didn’t sound all that great to me. On the other hand you have Dan Stevens who absolutely nailed it, belting out these wonderful notes with ease. Past the singing itself, I want to discuss the songs. Much like some of the story elements in Beauty and the Beast, there were a few changes to the track-list as well. Most of these songs I felt were pointless. First of all you have a pointless rendition of “How Does a Moment Last Forever”, which was only performed for about thirty seconds. I understand that the full song was played during the credits, but as it stands in the film it shouldn’t be there. Later on you have a song called “Days in the Sun” which wasn’t bad, but the movie didn’t need another song there. This song was about all of the furniture being sad and shit, and really it didn’t serve much of a purpose. On the opposite side of the spectrum you have “Evermore” which may well be my new favourite Beauty and the Beast song. The writing of the song is absolutely beautiful, it fit well within the story (giving Beast his chance to shine), and it was wonderfully preformed by Dan Stevens. Actually, to say wonderfully preformed is an understatement, this song is beautiful. The power and raw emotion that is conveyed through Stevens’ voice is stunning, and it was easily my favourite part of the movie.
As you can see I have varying opinions on the 2017 version of Beauty and the Beast. Some changes I loved, some I hated, but at the end of the day I can look back and say that I did enjoy myself. Not only will fans of the original Beauty and the Beast like this version, but I’m sure this will get a lot of new fans as well; and anything that will get more people to like musicals is alright in my book.
I give Beauty and the Beast (2017) a B