Beauty and the Beast (2017)

Beauty and the Beast
Director: Bill Condon
Writer: Stephen Chbosky, Evan Spiliotopoulos
Based on: Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont‘s fairy tale
Remake of: Beauty and the Beast
Cast: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Josh Gad, Kevin Kline, Hattie Morahan, Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellen, Emma Thompson, Nathan Mack, Audra McDonald, Stanley Tucci, Gugu Mbatha-Raw
Seen on: 29.3.2017

Belle (Emma Watson) lives in a small village with her father Maurice (Kevin Kline), an inventor. Her life wouldn’t be so bad if the local library had more books and if village beau Gaston (Luke Evans) wasn’t constantly harrassing her with marriage proposals. Then one day, Maurice doesn’t return from the market as planned. When Belle sets out to find him, what she finds is an enchanted castle, where a Beast (Dan Stevens) is holding her father captive. Fearless as she is, Belle takes Maurice place. And she might just be what the Beast needed to break the curse that weighs on them all.

This live-action version of the film isn’t strictly necessary and there were a couple of things that really didn’t go all that well, but the film was nevertheless enjoyable and managed to capture the magic of the animated version at least in part.

A lot of the film is just taken basically shot for shot from the animated version – which I’ve always loved as a kid, and still do. And the story, especially with the wonderful music by Alan Menken, works in both versions (despite all the horrible gender implications in it). When the film does differ from the animated version, it stands out like a sore thumb (and that even though I haven’t seen the old film in probably a decade or more). Especially the new songs just aren’t up to snuff.

The only thing that they changed from the original that worked for me was Dan Stevens’ version of the Beast who does have more of a sense of humor in this version than the original one – and it works. But it did bother me that suddenly the Beast becomes an expert on reading and gets a scene where he explains to Belle that she’s been going about her biggest passion wrong. And it bothered me even more that he simply doesn’t get a name in this version.

Those were not the only things that bothered me. That they claimed great queer representation for the film by making LeFou (Josh Gad as a character whose name is literally The Fool) subtext-in-love with Gaston (unhappily of course), while at the same time dequeering both Cogsworth (obviously gay, and voiced by Ian McKellen) and Lumière (Ewan McGregor; and obviously bi/pan in the original) is a fucking disgrace. Or – on a slightly less aggravating note – the fact that they literally have the worst end title sequence I have ever seen in my entire life. And that Belle is obviously a furry (as proved by that last comment) is plain weird.

But in any case, it’s a beautiful film in many ways. The effects are great. Watson does a decent job as Belle, Luke Evans was a brilliant casting choice and his Gaston is fantastic, and the voice cast is generally to die for, even if completely underused. And I was able to go along emotionally with the story. But in future, I’ll most likely still watch the animated version if I want to see the film and not this one.

Summarizing: It’s not bad. It’s just really unnecessary.

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