"Beauty And The Beast" (2017) Talkback (Spoilers)

Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
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Beauty And The Beast (2017)

This is the first time I've seen one of these musical live-action remakes of the 90's Disney animated stuff. It's my understanding a great deal of these are shot-for-shot remakes, but to be honest, I cared very little for the parts of the movie trying to be exactly like the cartoon. You can't actually do better than that in live-action. You can't get the proper level of emotion from live-actors and CGI objects as you can with animated Disney characters. So I knew I probably wouldn't be talking much about the similarities.

What I very much liked were some of the differences. I love the cartoon. I do. But its story is extremely flawed. I also think the cartoon design of the Beast in the original is not-so-hot. So I was willing to allow this film to do its own CGI interpretation of the character. And the design has a few virtues the cartoon does not. The expressions are far easier to read for one thing, which is pretty much my biggest complaint about the cartoon design. So yeah, I like that.

When I say the cartoon is flawed, this movie in my estimation fixed one of the worst things about it. And it was SUCH an easy fix it actually makes me angry the original creators couldn't even think of this simple idea. But Belle warming up to the Beast in the original movie never sat right with me. Because the turning point was him giving her the library. Which he does thoughtlessly without any clue how much it means to her. That being the specific thing to win Belle over, makes the romance shallow and materialistic, if Beast has no clue why Belle loves books, and makes her loving the gift an actual accident. Here Beast is a bookworm. And an annoying critic to boot, which gives him and Belle stuff to talk about and debate. And it's so freaking easy and effortless, that it reminds me that as beloved as the cartoon is, it's far from perfect.

The other thing I liked in this movie is that Gaston doesn't exactly start off all bad. He treats the other women besides Belle terribly, but he at least DOES treat Belle decently during the opening scenes. The cartoon Gaston is completely and utterly loathsome the entire way through, which makes the villagers following his mad and evil plan to kill the Beast absolutely unforgivable. In the cartoon Gaston is who he is. What is the villagers' excuse? Here Gaston is actually NICE to Lefou, and his problem is that he keeps going more and more insane as the film goes on. Even better, Lefou himself is having serious misgivings about Gaston's declining sanity, and is worrying the monster unleashed is actually his friend. I don't necessarily think that the cartoon version of Lefou needed nuance or a redemption story. But even still, him just disappearing at the end of the original film makes him seem like the loosest of loose ends. The movie here sort of explores the fall-out of the castle spell breaking, and suggests the village integrated into the kingdom, which is kind of nice, considering what Gaston convinced those idiot villagers to do. It feels like a sense of growth and completion that Beast and Belle forgive them, and let them be a part of their lives. One of the biggest problems with the cartoon is that it ends far too quickly. This is normal for a Disney cartoon, by the way, but few Disney cartoons leave me with more unanswered questions than Beauty And The Beast did. We actually get wrap-up for Cogsworth, Lumiere, Mrs. Potts, and their families here. That's nice, (even if Cogsworth doesn't like his wife much).

For the record, Gaston is far more evil in the second half of the film than he was in the cartoon. He not only actually tries to kill Maurice, but him trying to convince the Beast Belle sent him to kill him is atrocious behavior on every level. Gaston is a purer monster in the cartoon, and was the entire time. But Luke Evans does far worse stuff by the end.

I like that the Beast got his own soulful song after Belle leaves. That was probably from the play, but it's criminal he didn't get one in the cartoon.

My favorite moment was the Gaston song, mostly because they used some new, more grounded lyrics that would be easier to portray in live-action. I don't know if I've mentioned it elsewhere, but I think the Gaston song is genius and I always have. Because everything Gaston brags about, and everything the town is proud of him for, is literally a bad thing. Howard Ashman somehow managed to make every single boast be Gaston telling the world how much he utterly sucks, with the townsfolk being too dumb to understand all of these things he's preening over are shameful, base-court, and common. And that strikes as a very unique thing that only Howard Ashman would think to do. Which is another reason it's a tragedy that guy's career was cut so short. Can you imagine the amount of amazing song lyrics we could have gotten if he didn't die of AIDS? Howard Ashman wasn't just taken from us too soon. We were robbed of his genius far sooner than we should have been. Pop culture is markedly worse for never being allowed to experience what that genius would have cooked up in the decades since. And it's sort of infuriating. But the Gaston song is beyond subversive. It's a celebration of mediocrity, and nobody singing it understands it.

The joke that Lefou was illiterate was fine with me. That's essentially the joke of the movie, but Lefou seems far more charming here by admitting that weakness.

Belle suggesting Human Beast grow a beard at the end was a nice touch too. It was proof positive that Belle actually dug the Beast when he really WAS a Beast. Another thing sorely lacking in the cartoon. It's annoying the easy things this movie got right that the cartoon didn't.

I don't know anything about the other Disney cartoon remakes. This is the first one I've seen. But I liked it, especially whenever it ventured away from the source material. Because I think some of the things they changed were actually for the better. ****.
 

Classic Speedy

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In retrospect this was a foreshadowing of the reenactments taken up to eleven with The Lion King. But by comparison this was an original piece of work!
 

AdrenalineRush1996

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Honestly, I just found this to be meh and I was more impressed with the Aladdin remake than this one.
 

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