Based on: Beauty and the Beast (1991) and Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont’s adaptation of the original tale.
Directed by: Bill Condon
Screenplay by: Stephen Chbosky and Evan Spiliotopoulos
Music by: Alan Menken
Cinematography: Tobias A. Schlissler
Starring: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Kevin Kline, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Audra McDonald, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Ian McKellen and Emma Thompson.
Okay, look, if you were expecting one of my long rambling articles for this film review, it wasn’t necessary due to the Walker brothers from Channel Awesome and JD Hansel beating me to the punch. Especially where the story is concerned. Anything I could say here would just be beating at a dead horse. However, there are still a few things to which I’d like to give my own take.
Best Casting: While not the bumbling, eccentric old man we all remember, I quite enjoyed Kevin Kline as Maurice. Kevin stands apart from the rest of the cast, playing his part in an understated way, just giving enough to the character to make him likable and able to provide a few chuckles here and there. His chemistry with Emma Watson as Belle is easily the most genuine, neither having to play off CGI characters whenever they share their screentime.
Best Song: The Mob Song would have to be the most intensive, attention-grabbing 4-5 minutes in the entirety of the run-time. Luke Evans as Gaston is menacing and dangerous, despite lacking that iconic operatic bass provided by Richard White in the original. This in turn is echoed by the villagers as they march towards the castle. The film truly turns darker in these few minutes and sets up the final act while giving the audience a sense of expectation.
The Score: While the singing was mostly sub-par, the music itself was sensational. Alan Menken clearly wanted to outdo himself the second time around, a venture that payed off tremendously. The score brings intensity, mystique, joy and certainly intrigue when needed. There’s a lot to be said when a film could potentially fail if the music doesn’t grab the audience by the heartstrings. The orchestra certainly acted as this film’s crutch on which to lean.
Major Highlight: That one villager who discovered his feminine side quite to be quite natural and fulfilling.
Major Low-light: Introducing the enchanted book was completely unnecessary. Why include something that has the potential to change the entire course of the film if you’re just going to use it as an exposition-dumping device?
Missed Opportunity: Josh Gad deserved a lot more screen-time then he was given. His performance is clever, inviting, understated and rather amusing. LeFou was originally developed as a caricature of the ultimate ‘yes-man’, but in this remake, Josh and the writers bring actual motive to the character. And yet, sadly he isn’t used to his new potential. LeFou appears to be rather intelligent with the skills of a resourceful business man, even developing a guilty conscious as Gaston starts to cause havoc. But where do the writers take this character arc? Essentially nowhere. The subplot of LeFou secretly desiring Gaston should have motivated his actions instead of hindering them. Imagine how much more intriguing he would have been if LeFou had betrayed the man he loved by admitting that Gaston did in fact try to leave Maurice to the wolves? Missed opportunities seem to be the theme of this remake.
And One More Thing: My biggest disappointment with this film occurred during the castle battle scene between the enchanted objects and the villagers. In the 1991 animated version, my favourite moment is Cogsworth sliding down the banister, laughing maniacally in the way only David Ogden Stiers can, ready and willing to prick a few villagers in the tush. Here, mostly thanks to his restrictive design, Cogsworth proves to be a coward and needs to be rescued. Just one more moment to add to the ‘why did they even bother trying?’ pile for this film.
2/5 Enchanted Roses