Beauty and the Beast (2017) review, and thoughts on subliminal messages.

Rated: 2/5

I had to take a shit after watching this movie.  That ought to let you know what my thoughts are about it if the rating wasn’t enough.  But first, the positives, while they still linger in my mind.

The Review

The scene where Beast gets the idea to show Belle the library after a brief discussion on Shakespeare.  For a few moments, that worked.  There’s a few other scenes with conversations and character moments that actually worked briefly.  Then most of them get ruined when the characters open their big fucking mouths to start singing.  Oh crap, starting to get negative already.  I’ve got one more positive.  Remember the scene in the 1991 animated classic when Belle and Beast are having a snowfight, and Belle is the only one to hit Beast?  Well, much to my surprise, in this movie, Beast manages to hit Belle with a snowball, in the face, hard enough to make her fall flat on her back.  That moment of seeing Emma Watson getting hit in the face hard enough to fall on the ground made the movie for me.  What’s that Hermione?  No magic spells or wands or wingardium leviosa to deal with it?  Well too bad!

Sorry, I kind of have a disliking for her in real life, but I promised myself to set aside any grudges I may have against her as a person and judge her in-movie character separate from all that. Otherwise, I would be a huge hypocrite, considering other instances where I’ve kept an actor’s/performer’s real-life issues separate from the piece of entertainment they performed in. That being said, she didn’t seem to fit the role that well. Yep, here we go, the real negative rants start here and begin with Emma Watson’s portrayal of Belle. And she can’t sing THAT well.

So, the thing is, she seems to have this general negative attitude and aura about her, how she gets angry and physical much more often than the cartoon portrayal. I mean, she smashes Lumiere (the candlestick guy) with a stool. That’s about as far as the physical aggression goes, but it’s mostly just the attitude and aura she has. It’s a bit off-putting, and doesn’t exactly gel with the Beast’s character, who also has problems of his own.

“I’m a cunt.”

So the Beast isn’t animated that well for a CG character, which is a shame considering what Disney managed to pull off with their Jungle Book remake (a far better film than this one, Disney is capable of not screwing up remaking their classic films). I mean, considering what we’ve been spoiled with in this day and age, you would think they could’ve done him a bit better. But it’s not the Beast animation that is the main hindrance to this character’s potential. I could live with so-so animation. The issue is with his mannerisms and voice acting. He’s less aggressive overall compared to how he starts out during the first half of the 1991 animated film. He just doesn’t come off as intimidating as he should, like the film expects his looks and appearance to be enough. In the animated film, it was a combination of the looks and the fantastic voicework by Robby Benson. Dan Stevens is no Robby Benson by a longshot when it comes to being suited for this role. Then again, it seemed like they were trying to go for a different angle on the Beast than what they did in the animated version. He still has aggression, but it’s more mellow. They basically took away some of that anger that made his character interesting in the 1991 version and made him more bland, which seems impossible, but they somehow did it.

Gaston, played by Luke Evans. Man, this guy is practically nothing like his animated counterpart. Less physically intimidating, a douche in different ways than in the animated film, can’t sing as well as his animated counterpart…

Ok, I can’t go on without talking about the biggest issue I had with this film. Despite the fact that this movie is over 2 hours long, adding in at least 30 minutes to the runtime compared to the 1991 version, just about every scene feels rushed. Like the film is desperately trying to redo the scenes from the classic as quickly as possible. Yeah, and that repeating of lines from the classic, along with the redone music, it makes it impossible not to compare this film to the animated version. That film, despite it’s shorter runtime, got me more absorbed into each scene because it knew how to time things properly. When to go silent before bursting in with music, knowing how long to linger on a character for them to express their emotions before transitioning or panning away or making them speak after having their reaction. Somehow this remake fucks that all up at least 70% of the time (I think I’m being generous with that percentage, it’s likely higher). The ultimate problem is that it just doesn’t allow characters to make their presence and impact upon the scenes they’re in as pronounced as in the animated film. Gaston and the Beast suffer the most from this.

Alright, mentioned the pacing. Where was I? Oh right, Gaston. Aside from just not being cast with the right character to have an intimidating presence, they opted for a more average looking guy with less beef on the muscles. And they changed his profession, from hunter to ex-military, captain of the guard, or something. I’m not entirely sure why that change was necessary. Why couldn’t Disney get Dwayne Johnson for this part? He looks the part (not being French aside), and might be able to sing better too.

“I guarantee his chest isn’t as hairy as mine.”

Another baffling change is with Belle’s father, Maurice. He’s skinny instead of fat. That’s not the baffling change in case you’re wondering. His profession is changed as well. He still makes mechanical trinkets and stuff, but none that look like they will contribute to society in any way other than art. In the animated film, he created all sorts of things like a mechanical wood chopper, and a weird sort of eyehole for doors. He was an eccentric inventor. In this film, he’s calm and collected rather than eccentric, and he makes mechanical toys to sell, which don’t seem like much out of the ordinary. Which makes it even more forced with how they attempt to get him locked up in the loony bin.

And then we come to Gaston’s sidekick, LeFou. In the animated film, he’s probably the only person to top Gaston in terms of being an asshole. A very nasty individual, especially during the castle siege. He always gets physically abused by Gaston to the point where he’s used to it, is a smartass to him off and on, but looks up to him as the best guy in the world. In this live action version, well, they take away the “asshole” part of him and replace it with gayness. Now, I should mention that I’m aware of the uproar that has been caused by LeFou being an openly gay character, but that whole controversy is overblown. The gay-factor is more subtle than they let on, and they (some of those who advertised that aspect of the film) should be ashamed of themselves for building it up to be that big of a deal. That being said, I’ll address this again when we get to the subliminal advertising portion of the review.

The furniture. The film aims for a more realistic rather than cartoonish look. That sounds nice and all, but that makes it more difficult for them to emote, to express emotions and facial expressions, which the animated version did effortlessly. They all just look weird. Because these CG versions have their emotes inhibited, they become more bland and less unique and memorable. The most horrendous looking out of all of them is the dresser. Easily.

The mirror. The magic mirror. It doesn’t glow green while working, and the vision is very narrow to the point that it’s difficult to see what you’re looking at in the mirror. Seriously, when it got to the point where Belle told the mirror to show her the Beast, and show the mirror to everyone in the village, and everyone gasps, I started cracking up. I’m like, “Really? All those people, including those in the back rows, can actually make out what’s in that mirror?” And the rose doesn’t glow pink, which makes it less visually interesting.

The songs. All the songs that are from the original film are of lesser quality in this version. Inferior singers, inferior directing when it comes to capturing those singing the song. They are lesser versions of themselves. But what I found to be hilarious is that this film didn’t think it was necessary to throw in the song “Human Again.” You know, that piece of crap song from the Special Edition version of the animated Beauty and the Beast. Guess they know that song sucks. Didn’t stop them from putting in other songs that weren’t that strong. Or maybe they were, but they were sung by actors who aren’t that great at singing, and directed by a director who isn’t all that great with musicals. Figures, as it’s directed by the guy who brought us Twilight: Breaking Dawn 1 and 2.

Oh, right, there are some other positives I can bring up. So, assuming you’ve read my review of the 1991 animated film, you’ll notice I raised some questions, such as who was Belle’s mother? What about the Beast/Prince’s mother and father? Did they ever rule over a populated province? Why didn’t it cross anyone’s mind that Belle may have betrayed them during the siege at the castle? Did the Beast ever kill any of the furniture? How much of a bitch was that hag who thought it a good idea to curse a prince who was only 11 years old (seriously, that’s the maximum age the prince was when he got cursed in the animated film)? Well, this adaptation actually answers some of those questions (sometimes by changing the question).

The film let’s us know who Belle’s mother is, and where she was, and how she died prior to the events in the film. In my previous review, I made the point that backstory and character development doesn’t have to be expanded into each and every detail if it adds nothing to the story or character arc. In this film’s case, it let the Beast have a greater understanding of her, and got him to apologize about how he treated her father. I didn’t like how it was executed, but I can’t really come up with a good reason as to why I should hate this added plot point (or maybe I can, see next paragraph). I’m just a bit indifferent to it. It didn’t make Belle or Maurice any more or less interesting of a character.

The Beast’s mother and father. They’re briefly mentioned, but not enough is shown or talked about them to make them significant in any real way. It’s implied the father made the prince into the little douche that we see during the first half of the film, like that’s supposed to make us sympathize with him more somehow, which in Belle’s case it does. The film injects these backstories for both Beast and Belle to make them more sympathetic to each other, which indicates that they can love each other more based on their upbringing rather than how they are in the present. In retrospect, it seems wiser to push forth the theme that love should be based on how someone is now, how they change due to the presence of those around them in the present, rather than how they were in the past.

The king and queen of the castle having subjects to rule over. The film actually addresses this, stating that when the prince and the castle became cursed, everyone’s memory of the castle (who doesn’t reside in it) was wiped away. The townsfolk had forgotten about the castle and its inhabitants due to the curse. All it took was one sentence to fill in that little plot hole. There is still the issue of what happened to the Prince’s father, but I honestly don’t care that much.

The thought that Belle betrayed them and told the townsfolk where to find the castle is addressed, briefly, in a manner that I was honestly hoping for. A single comment from Cogsworth. That is all.

Did the Beast kill any of the furniture? Continue asking yourself that.

How much of a bitch was that old hag? Interestingly enough, less so in some aspects, and more so in others. Like I said, the prince was only 11 years old in the 1991 version when he was cursed. In this live action adaptation, they just decide to make him an adult when he becomes cursed, and indicate that he and the castle inhabitants are sort of locked in time, or metaphorically frozen in time as it snows there all the time. So that gives her a better excuse to curse an adult who should know better as opposed to a little brat who still has some maturing to do. But on the other hand, in the animated film, she just knocks at the door and the prince answers. In the live action adaptation, she just bursts in unannounced and causes all the candles to be blown out (a dance party is going on at this time), and then confronts the prince. So I guess it all evens out in the end and the hag/enchantress still winds up being a bitch. That being said, the female narration during this opening sequence didn’t seem to match what was going on on-screen. It was a bit strange.

This film is unable to stand on it’s own. It relies on the nostalgia viewers have from the 1991 film to power itself, as opposed to standing on it’s own like The Jungle Book (for the most part) and Cinderella did (I didn’t like the Cinderella remake, but I’ll fully admit it’s a better film than this one). It’s a shell of its former self, and all the animated characters can express emotions better than all the actors in this live-action counterpart. And worst of all, there wasn’t anywhere near as much chemistry between Belle and Beast as in the 1991 version. Hell, I honestly thought she was going to leave the Beast’s chewed up ass in the snow to die while she rode off on Phillipe after he saved her from the wolf attack.

Subliminal Messages.

I can’t ignore this anymore. I’m seeing shit like this way too often. It got irritating with all the anti-slavery films that have been released over the past decade. Slavery is wrong (no duh), promotion of white guilt, blah blah blah. But now it’s progressed into something else now. This message of accepting diversity. In this film’s case, accepting gay people, cross-dressers (indicating acceptance of trannies), and colored folk.

I should mention my stance on things. I don’t have much of a problem with having queers, blacks, and trannies around so long as they don’t bother me or cause problems for friends/family/co-workers. Assuming the individuals are decent people, I’ve got no problem with them.

That being said, I hate it when films are pushing this coexistence message when it becomes forced and unnatural to the film as a whole. You’ll notice in this film that because they made LeFou gay, they had to take away the asshole-factor and make him more of a nice guy, because it wouldn’t be proper to have a coexistence message when the gay person we should be coexisting with is an asshole, because gay people can’t be assholes. The only assholes that should be associated with gayness are the actual literal assholes they stick their literal thick throbbing gay cocks into.

Black people. Aside from the fact that Disney seems to have forgotten that slavery existed in France during that time period (yep, France had black slaves too, this isn’t just a USA thing even if the Team America theme song would make you believe that’s something unique to America that should be celebrated), once again we can’t have black assholes in this. They have to be nice people or that would go against the coexistence message. The standout in this case is the one black guy who sides with Belle during the time when she shows everyone the Beast with the magic mirror, and Gaston sings them into agreeing to kill the Beast. Meanwhile the black guy is frowning and is convinced this is all wrong (so is LeFou for that matter). Everyone else though, oh they’re all blood-thirsty savages.

Crossdressers/Trannies. Ok, so this was played as a bad joke in the animated Beauty and the Beast film. That being said, they decided to use that same joke but mix it up a bit for this live-action adaptation. The dresser ends up clothing 3 dudes, 2 of which scream and run off after seeing how they’re dressed, the third smiles and walks off, no longer feeling like fighting. And he would go on to dance with LeFou during the ending sequence. How nice.

But the biggest insult with this film comes in the very last moment. During the ending dance (everyone is singing and dancing), there’s a black lady singing the ending song, occasionally stopping to let someone else in the crowd pick up where she left off. The last image jumps from Belle and the Beast-turned-Prince, back to the black singer and that white piano player in the background, and the credits roll from there. That’s right, Beast and Belle are not the final figures you see before the credits roll, neither is some glass image of them (like in the animated film), it’s the image of two people we don’t know whom no one gives a shit about. Now, tell me this isn’t hindering the overall film at all. I fucking dare you. This seems like a minor thing that only lasts a split second, but a split second can make a big impact on any and every moment in a film. What the hell is the point? How does this make the film stronger rather than ending on Belle and the Prince dancing together? Who the hell is this musical group compared to the main stars? What makes them worthy of being the only ones featured in the final pre-credit scene?

It’s just all very disappointing. It really is. What they need to do for the sake of realism and fairness is to make a version of this film with French actors rather than American and British actors. Then again, I believe a non-Disney entity may have done that already…

One thought on “Beauty and the Beast (2017) review, and thoughts on subliminal messages.

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