Frog Reviews : Beauty and the (Incoherent Wailing)

Hallo. Yes, it’s been a while. I’ve been busy, biding my time. I actually saw several good movies (Logan, Moonlight and The Lego Batman Movie), the reviews of which are forthcoming despite them probably being gone from your local cinema by the time of reading. But really, I wanted a film to hate. A film to boil my blood. I was waiting.

Waiting.

Interminably waiting.

But now….

Strap your arses in lads, for I saw…

I SAW…

//What have they WROUGHT???

The Disembodied Frozen Head of Walt Disney has apparently decided that a Best Picture nomination just isn’t good enough. No, he’d rather completely diarrhoea-splatter out of his neck-hole all over the memory of possibly the studio’s finest fucking film for the sake of oh, I dunno, several billion dollars in revenue. By the way, that’s a Best Picture nomination in 1992 when there were only 5 nominees, back when a Best Picture nomination was a fucking hard thing to get (I’m looking at you, Silver Linings Playbook oh sure let’s DANCE OURSELVES HAPPY, that’s how depression works!)

///Absolute Charisma Vacuum

/

The 2017 remake of Beauty And The Beast is a smoking, soulless, CGI crater where once there was a pinnacle of the art of animation. I hated it with every fibre of my being, and I am actually struggling to come to terms with this hate.

//////////////////////Good… GOOOOOOD

The film takes an 80-something minute masterpiece and tops it up with a fizzy head of incredibly wrong-footed additions and embellishments that improve nothing, painfully stretching it past two hours and actively worsening the original Disney classic in retrospect. This film is so poor that it’s actually ruined a separate film for me!!!

“How does it do this?”,  you may wail.

Let’s dig in, shall we?

Director Bill Condon (of Dreamgirls fame) has created a bizarre Epcot-Does-France paint-by-numbers world, where the cobblestones are obviously plastic and everyone is wearing what is clearly an un-lived-in costume while they aimlessly hobnob and stage-whisper the word “rhubarb” in the background of  each and every crowd shot. The interior of the Beast’s castle is mostly a physical set, and yet the field in which Belle desperately claws in the direction of her high notes is a morass of green-screen and rotoscoped-in foliage.

It’s a cringey spectacle that looks like your Dad filmed a touring Disney-On-Ice show with the highest-definition camera possible, revealing all the cracks and the Beasts’ big wobbly mascot head. It makes you long for Tim Burton’s sad, washed out  Alice in Wonderland, because even an insulting parody of your own once-breathtaking style still counts as… y’know, a style.

/

///////” We have feelings too , Frog “

/
Shut up, Depp. You dug your grave, have the decency to die in it.

But enough about the “look” of this film, let’s talk about the elephant in the room.

Emma fucking Watson.

Can. Not. Act.

The actor’s “performance” in this film is so bad as to be alarming.  Awkward, stilted and wooden, she emotes at a sub-pantomime level. If you saw her give this performance in your local community am-dram theatre production of Beauty and the Beast, you’d demand your bake-sale cookies that you made in lieu of paying actual money back. In Emma Watson’s book on acting, every scene must begin with an alternately shocked or winsome inhalation of breath, and end with a practiced lip-quiver or perhaps that one “I’m onto you” eyebrow arch that she still can’t get right even though it’s all she’s done since she was eight years old.

/

It’s Levio-Sah, not Levio-AAAAAARFUCKARRRR

Watching Watson in this film is to realise that Hermione Granger’s most empathy-murdering qualities – her grating vocal tone, her strangely disconnected camera presence, her rigid “I’m a smarty-pants, so there” attitude to every interaction with literally any other character regardless of their status or her relationship to them –  none of these were in actuality a choice on her part, or any of the nineteen directors on that series.

As it turns out, these qualities are inherent in Watson’s own natural way of being. She is a smarmy, utterly charmless automaton. Believably acting as a love interest, even a captive love interest, is beyond her non-existent capabilities.

To make matters far far worse, her diabolical singing is subjected to Michael Bublé-level autotune throughout and mixed desperately downwards into the string section or completely enveloped by the no doubt professionally-trained chorus when possible so we don’t notice that she cannot hold a tune to save her life.

If there is any justice in this world, such a display of incompetence would rightfully be the end of Watson’s career.

So of course, she should probably consider running for fucking President of the United States.

/////////////////“FOOORE!!”

All told, Watson fails utterly at achieving chemistry with either the gnashing CGI clusterfuck of Dan Stevens’ Beast, or the flesh-and-blood reality of actors like HOLY SHIT IT’S KEVIN KLINE!!!

///////////“You rang?”

Yes , YES I DID!

KEVIN PLEASE SAVE ME FROM EMMA WATSON’S HORRENDOUS ACTING. How does her acting make you feel, Kevin?

//////////////“Disappointed!!!”

Kevin Kline’s on another fucking level in this film. A Tony-winning singer for Pirates of Penzance, and an Oscar-winning comedic actor for A Fish Called Wanda, here he remoulds the  eccentric Maurice of the animated film into a much more charming, avuncular figure. Like Peter Capaldi’s Doctor Who, he gives the entire enterprise the side-eye while still being the only good thing about it.

So good is Kline in this film (and in general), I got the feeling that his banter with Phillipe the horse was improvised mainly because it’s the only dialogue delivered by a recognisably human person seemingly having spontaneous thoughts that he subsequently vocalises aloud A.K.A he’s fucking acting. The scenes between Kline and his horse represent a more clearly defined relationship and far more charged love story than anything mustered in the main narrative.

/////////////Tale as old as tiiiime

Dan Stevens has the thankless task of mo-capping the horrendously realised Beast, and he admittedly does fare better than Watson, showing some range through the layers of ones and zeros. It’s just a pity the character is so smugly irritating, and the effects so poor. While he’s no Kevin Kline, his singing is at least serviceable and the vocal effect layered over him to create the Beast’s growling register does him a lot of favours. It’s almost funny when he transforms at the end into a weedy little fella, like Neil Hannon from The Divine Comedy.

/////////////My Lovely Hooorse

The brilliantly realised Gaston of the animated version – a bicep-bulging comic buffoon, all id, with a simmering rage bubbling under the surface – is here made flesh by Luke fucking Evans,  a relatively scrawny specimen who you might remember waddling around the Hobbit films looking as if he was severely constipated.

//“I need the biggest bottle of Prune Juice you have.”

Thankfully, Evans proves himself to be more than a one-trick pony, as his waddle in BATB suggests he’s finally managed to shit into his britches.  His performance in this film represents a bizarre dichotomy. In the dialogue scenes, he’s utterly dreadful – gurning out surface-level facsimiles of “The Face for when I’m Angry” or “The Face for when I’m Scheming” with nothing behind his eyes – no soul, no presence, nothing.  He’s like a department store mannequin – the clothes admittedly look great on him, but emotionally speaking he is utterly and completely hollow.

And yet, Evans proves himself to be a fine singer, able to perform without electronic aid, and he winningly contributes to the film’s only real show-stopper, the self-titled “Gaston” – although even this highlight comes across like a theme-park dinner theatre special where you spot one good actor struggling valiantly in a “I’m between professional gigs” situation.

The decade-long age gap between Evans and Watson lends an air of seemingly unintentional creepiness to the character – it’s certainly never referenced in the script or the performances. As it stands, Gaston is nowhere near as effective here as he is in the animated version.
——

Much brouhaha  has been made of the Mouse House designating to include a gay character in this extended remix. LeFou, the lackey of Gaston, is here cast as a besotted batsman in the ball-park of  Samwise Gamgee – loyal, dedicated, and perhaps just a little infatuated with his Frodo.

////////////“Share the LOAD”

As played by The Book of Mormon‘s Josh Gad (also Frozen’s Olaf), LeFou’s vocal affectations veer wildly from continent to continent, but his muddled accent in no way diminishes from his obvious Broadway chops.

Sadly, the much celebrated “inclusive” nature of the film instead gives way to a Carry On Up the Etcetra style “Hilarious Closeted / Ashamed Gay”. In 20-fucking-17, watching a gay man “uproariously” struggle to admit that he’s gay , or indeed stifle his true feelings by claiming he’s merely “clingy” strikes this reviewer as more regressive and insulting than not having a gay character at all. The fact that he gets one 3 second cutaway to dance with a man simply stinks of pandering and politically correct shenanigans on the part of the one of the biggest private Corporations on the planet.

If LeFou is gay, let him be gay, for Jesus’ sake. The tired wink-wink-nudge-nudge that BATB 2017 indulges in has no place in a progressive society in this day and age. Out and proud or not at all. It’s one thing to have a gay character struggle to come out and be accepted (hello, Moonlight ), but to portray that struggle as the comedic relief in your white-woman-loves-a-talking-goat narrative is really just complete bollocks.

You can’t have your gay and eat it too, Disney. For shame!!

Okay, let’s just breathe for a second. Maybe get yourself a cup of tea, I realise this one is a big one, but hey I’ve been away a while and I wanted to make this worth the read.

Right, you back? Good.

What else is on the hitlist?

///////////////////////“Kill us… please”

 

Of course!

The original BATB had the most incredibly designed and realised collection of enchanted sidekicks – Lumiere the candlestick, Cogsworth the Clock, and Mrs. Potts the… uh… the pot.

As performed by Jerry Orbach, David Ogden Stiers and Angela God-damn Lansbury, these characters are rightfully  remembered as charming, winning combinations of vocal talent and animator’s skill.

Here, sadly, the real-world setting means they must obey real-world physics and expectations, and so we are treated to the dull, drearily dish-water brown-coloured Lumiere as performed by noted accent master Ewan McGregor (SARCASM INTENSIFIES), stuffy Englishman Ian McKellen (SARCASM HE’S NOT STUFFY HE’S A  FUCKING JOYFUL MAN STOP STIFLING HIM), and randomly cockney Emma Thompson (JUST GET “MURDER SHE WROTE” BACK YOU CLOWNS HOW DO YOU IMPROVE ON PERFECTION YOU CAN’T).

These previously expressive characters can never be as dynamic here as they were in ink-and-pencil form, and their rousing performance of Be Our Guest is here bastardised into a bizarre acid-trip flurry of plates and forks fucking themselves at the camera in a “3D IMAX Mark-Up” special that just reminded me of how much I’d rather be watching the original in 2-D.

Of course,  it goes without saying that McGregor’s accent is horrendously insulting, especially as he’s the only French-accented person in this entirely French-set film – everybody else is a random mixture of American, British and everything in between. Admittedly, Jerry Orbach’s Lumiere also had an accent, but he didn’t even sound vaguely French so it was somehow less egregious. He just sounded weird. Not racist.

Joining the original gang for this go-round is a pointless organ voiced by… . Stanley Tucci!

///////////“I like MONEY”

What?

Why is he in this film?!!? Is he alright? Someone ask Stanley Tucci if he’s alright.

As an aside, has anyone else seen the little-loved Disney Holiday special Beauty And The Beast : An Enchanted Christmas? It’s  a strange off-shoot that’s neither sequel nor prequel, but an “inter-quel” set within the Stockholm Syndrome montage in the middle of Beauty and The Beast. The villain of that picture is an evil pipe organ voiced by TIM FUCKING CURRY.

////////////////////////YAS KWEEN

That film, it should be said, went straight to VHS in the mid 90’s. Disney had class back then, shuffling its God-awful off-cuts into the back of your local Xtra-Vision / Blockbuster (delete as applicable), not yet having the utter gall to roll them out worldwide in a  flurry of “Hooray GAY PEOPLE” histrionics. Needless to say, though, Stanley Tucci is no Tim Curry.

So, as we’ve seen thus far, this horrendous piece of celluloid terribly mishandles the things that made the original one of the five best films made in it’s respective year.

How does it fare with the new elements it deigns to cram sideways into the script?

Jesus Fucking Christ.

A hypothetical for you –  if you were to take a modern hipster-cynic viewpoint of the ’91 BATB you grew up with, and then try to cack-handedly preempt those possible niggles,  what issues would you highlight? Because this film tries desperately to answer questions no-one ever thought to ask of the original, and the result is confusing, infuriating and completely disheartening to watch. Let’s try and reason out these inexplicable additions.

“Hey! Why is the village all summery and sunny, while the Beast’s Castle is wintery and snowy?”

Real Answer : Because it’s an animated film and style counts for something?

Filmmaker’s Answer : Ha, no, fuck you, because in this film THE MAGIC MAKES SNOW HAPPEN and all the characters SAY THIS OUT LOUD WHENEVER POSSIBLE.

“Hey! Where did the Enchantress go?”

Real Answer : It doesn’t matter, it’s a fairytale and she’s an abstract concept.

Filmmaker’s Answer : She’s a hermit who never married and it could happen to you, Belle! Also she randomly helps Maurice even though at that point we don’t quite know who the fuck she is, and then she wanders slowly into the Castle in the climactic showdown thus completely undercutting any tension or danger inherent in that scene and her hair grows back (?) and she has to be there personally to blow the rose petals or fucking something because that’s certainly something the previous film got wrong, right?

“Hey! Did the Beast have parents?”

Real Answer : That’s not really pertinent.

Filmmaker’s Answer : Yes he did, his Dad was an awful prick, let’s have 3 lines of dialogue and a single sung line to explain that with a flashback to a young Prince that has absolutely no bearing on anything at all, ever.

“Hey! What happened to Belle’s Mother?”

Real Answer : Does it matter? Can’t she just be defined by her own actions??!?!?

Filmmaker’s Answer : It definitely matters, because y’see, Belle’s mother died of the plague despite the mainland European outbreak occurring in the 1300’s and yet everybody in this film quotes Shakespeare placing it roughly 300 years later than that because NOBODY EVEN LOOKED THAT UP!! NOBODY FUCKING LOOKED THAT UP. Belle finds a rose pendant that stirs memories of her mother, because even the simple concept of her liking flowers needs an awkwardly smashed-in backstory. Also, the Beast’s backstory involves a rose, so surely this means that… they… poetry… they both …. rose. THEY BOTH FLOWERS. ME WRITE SCROONPLAY.

“Hey! The Beast’s mirror in the original is kinda cool, I guess. Can we make that COOLIER?”

Real Answer : …. But…. Why?

Filmmaker’s Answer : So, the Beast  has… a magical time-and-space-transporting…  book.

No, seriously, The Beast has a magical book that lets him travel ANYWHERE, (except , y’know, away from the approaching pitchfork mob), and Belle uses it to go to her childhood home – sorry, her childhood WINDMILL – in Paris for the aforementioned cloying, unnecessary backstory.

However, this also means that when Belle uses the now utterly redundant magic mirror to see the villagers consigning her father to the asylum, she could use the book to go directly to him, but instead forces poor fucking Phillipe out into the wolf-infested forest for the third time in as many days.

///”Ah for fuck’s sake” – Phillipe , probably.

That’s…

That’s like trying to fry an egg by sticking it up your arse even though you just made rice on the hob in your kitchen ten minutes ago. Fucking Belle. Just… just use the fucking… I mean… you fucking … you fucking flute, ya.

“Hey! How come nobody in the village notices there’s a giant castle in the woods?”

Real Answer : It’s a fairytale, it’s just a castle! Please, can we please… can you just not…”

Filmmaker’s Answer : Part of the Beast’s Curse erases memories of the Castle and it’s servants, who have to live in the Cursed Castle, but the people married to the servants don’t live in the Castle or anything like that, that’d make too much sense.

See, the servants’ spouses live in the village … for some… for some fucking reason… and then at the end of the film the guy with the mutton chops who had admittedly been confusingly prominent for a featured extra is actually CHIP’S FUCKING DAD AND HIS LIFE FOR THE PAST DECADE UNDER THE CURSE HAS BEEN A LIE!!! What a happy ending. His mental breakdown will surely be one for the ages.

Seriously what the fucking JESUS FUCK are these story choices? I still can’t get my head around the ramifications. Does Belle not remember the Beast and the Castle then, like everyone else, when the spell is broken? As in “Oh yeah, you’re that prick in the Castle, I hate you now”? Or…  is her memory unaffected because she lived there during the curse? When did she move from Anachronistically Plague-Riddled Paris to the village? Post-Curse?  ARGH!!!!

Why would you make these things up if they only raise further confusing questions?!?!?!?!

These bizarre additions actively ruin both this film, and the previous version of the film. It’s almost surreal in it’s incompetence.

Wait, didn’t Belle’s Mam have the plague?

She did, yeah.

…But Belle brings the rose pendant back?

She does, yeah.

That her Mam kisses in the flashback…

That’s….

That’s absolutely right. She picks up the fucking plague-infested rose trinket… and brings it back to give to Maurice!

Those… those fucking LEMONS are all gonna get the plague. Belle has doomed them all. 

Every single character we meet in this film dies of the plague.

Thank God for that. It’s no less than they deserve.

Frog Out.

33 comments

  1. Wow, that was a really harsh review. But I have to watch the movie myself Before I can say if I agree or not.

    Let me point out though that there were outbreaks of plague in Europe in the 1700s as well, not just in the 1300s. We had to through an epidemic here in Sweden between 1710 and 1713. And as for France, Marseille had an epdemic in 1720. Of course, Marseilles is not Paris. But my point is that the plague didn’t just disappear after the Black Death was over. You can still catch it today if you’re unlucky.

  2. Thank you for that entire paragraph about Emma Watson I am so pissed she is in this movie she has the acting chops of a dead fish.

    This entire review is how I feel about this movie perfectly so I’m glad I could read it written down so eloquently.

    1. Even with the best make-up, wardrobe, styling, and effects, Watson is an average-looking woman, certainly not a great beauty. But ‘Mediocrity and the Beast’ doesn’t have the same timeless ring.

      1. Oh man, EroticPositron, now that’s what I call a sick burn. Where do you come up with this fire?

  3. I don’t intend on watching this film. Emma Watson needs to stick to activism. I can’t stand her acting. Her eyebrows move more than her face and voice does. THE WOMAN CANNOT ACT. That being said I like what I see of her as a person but damn that acting is bad and and I am not happy about this casting. SHE IS JUST SUCH A BAD ACTOR. Ok I’m done

    1. I feel like that was unnecessarily mean of me, because I was doing exactly what I hate, which was swooping in, saying something spiteful and then leaving without offering anything to the reader. So I hope I’m not overstepping in suggesting that for the next review, maybe a bit more variation might make the review more interesting to us readers. I’m reminded of the post a while ago where you said you liked the movie but the overall pessimistic tone of the review didn’t convey that. Some contrast could really make those barbs stand out a bit more. I bet you’re brilliant in person (Mouse has great taste in friends, she said modestly); it’s just that I don’t think the writing style is getting that across.

      I didn’t mind the movie, for the record. It has great visuals, a couple of new songs, and it feels a bit like a Broadway show of the animated one. It’s not a startling new retelling, but I dunno, it seems like it’s getting panned harder than it deserves.

      1. Amelia, let me say that I agree and appreciate your sense of self-reflection, feeling as though your original response was an unfair blanket statement. At the same time, I would like to say that I also agree both with said original statement and your subsequent follow-up, as seen above, as I feel the same way: Frog seriously needs to pump the brakes a bit.

        I felt similarly back during Frog’s La La Land review a while back (What now? You’re saying that Ryan Gosling is, in fact, a white man? As in, he is a person who decidedly hails from European descent? Why, I’ll be flabbergasted), but it was reading through this latest review where I finally found my thoughts. This vitriolic method of critique, where any sense of humor or hyperbole is risked being lost, can ironically send people in droves to this film the reviewer purportedly hates. Heck, if I hadn’t already seen this remake earlier this weekend, reading a review like this probably would have instilled me to go to see it anyway, wondering if it is truly as much of a train wreck as the critic purports it to be. Which, by the way, it’s not, at least not to me. Granted, I’m sort of in Mouse’s camp, where I’m not too terribly thrilled about the original in the first place.

        While there were some elements I did like in this new version, they did not add up to a full, enjoyable movie. This remake’s worst crime is that it is overly pedantic and ultimately wholly unnecessary. Still, it doesn’t tarnish the original, because the original still exists, and can still be enjoyed as it is. This applies to the other remakes thus far, and will still apply to all forthcoming ones, all of which will likely continue to make money, partly due to this cyclical nature of critique.*

        Frog, if you truly don’t want to advocate for people to see a movie you did not enjoy, perhaps you shouldn’t build up said hate so passionately. The best method is to just say that it is not worth paying money for or getting worked up about, because it really isn’t.

        *Which, speaking of forthcoming remakes, which do you guys think is weirder: Tim Burton directing Dumbo, or Guy Richie directing Aladdin, because both of those are apparently going to happen soon enough.

      2. Oh, yeah, it didn’t need to exist, and I’m not a major fan of the original either, but as a bit of veg-out nostalgia with my sister after exams, it hit the spot. I just encountered a bunch of bad press before going and then was left thinking, ‘What’s the big deal?’

      3. I had a similar situation, where it was a Friday evening and I took the bus out to the new theater in my local area. It was at a point in the day where every other release wouldn’t be for up to forty minutes…except for BatB, which was merely ten. I literally shrugged at the ticket booth and thought, eh, sure.

        I will say, I just might have to eat my words in a few years time, when that Mulan movie comes out and my own personal bias is challenged (Disney, I know there are a lot of pitfalls to make there, but at the very least, please, please don’t cast Kevin Hart as Mushu. Give me Aziz Ansari, man!).

    2. Viewing the new ‘B&B’ with my nieces and nephews, I kept thinking back to Mouse’s scoring of ‘Saving Mr Banks’ and your own refreshingly honest summation of the despicable ‘Lorax.’ Many, many parts of this movie are so poorly thought-out and so contrived, we left thinking of it as more an advertisement for itself, a piece of “corporate propaganda,” than a work of art. The filmmakers are so obsessed with giving the audience what they THINK we’ll want to see that they wind up with a product so tepid and unfocused it doesn’t really please anyone.
      I have seen better high school stage reproductions of this fairy tale.

      1. Yeah, fair point. I regret being so harsh above; trouble with being a person who talks too much is that it’s easy to say the wrong thing. Particularly since poor old Frog does write evenhanded reviews of things like Arrival and Nerve.
        It looks to me like one of those cases in which people who loved the original are outraged, and those who are ambivalent don’t get the fury.

  4. Bless you, ma grenouille, your wisdom has saved me from commitment to an asylum for screaming in a movie theater.

  5. I really enjoy the negativity. I haven’t seen the film yet but regarding Emma Watson this is already spot on

  6. Thank you so much for that dressing down of Emma Watson. Cannot stand her.

    Making LeFou gay was just a bad idea from the start. He couldn’t be out like he should have been because then there’d be no way ultra conservative asshole Gaston would ever let them be friends. They should have just made Cogsworth and Lumiere an item (heh) or something.

  7. Amelia and Scorpio have already given voice to my first reaction, so I’ll just be a nit-picking pedant and point out that the rose necklace Belle gives to Maurice cannot be “plague-infested.”

    Plague is caused by a bacteria. Bacteria tend to be very host-dependent and usually can only live a few hours outside of a living host. (Plague bacteria is especially sensitive to heat and dessication.) And a hard pendant is not a hospitable vector as it provides neither moisture nor warmth nor nutrients. So unless Belle were to touch the freshly-kissed pendant and then immediately touch her mucous membranes and/or an open wound, nobody’s going to get sick from said trinket.

  8. I thought Watson was good in Perks of Being a Wallflower. But yeah… I haven’t seen this movie and I have no desire to see this movie. After the frankly embarrassing trailers and reading yours and Alternate Ending’s reviews I’m comfortable writing this remake off much as I did with Maleficent. It’s honestly a shame, because in the right hands this could’ve been a good movie. Still unnecessary, but good. I mean, I loved the hell out of The Jungle Book, and it was just as unnecessary as this film. But The Jungle Book had Jon Favreau and bleeding edge special effects and Bill Fucking Murray. And the Pete’s Dragon remake was actually BETTER than the original, (not a hard bar to clear, but still.) My point is, these remakes don’t have to suck, but they’re still pretty hit and miss. And now apparently Disney is planning 19 remakes over the next decade?????? Fucking kill me…

    1. Wallflower is literally the only non-HP movie I’ve seen Watson in, so I didn’t think I could in good taste hop aboard this hate train. She wasn’t all that great though, and she most certainly doesn’t hold a candle to Paige O’Hara’s singing voice.

      With these remakes thus far, there was always room for improvement with the source material. Jungle Book borrowed a bit more from the original Kipling story and trimmed out the excessive comic relief from the animated version, all with the successful gimmick of the immersive, Life of Pi-level special effects. Cinderella affirmed the lack of agency in both it’s title character and her Prince Charming (Though I feel that goodwill was botched at that very end, but I won’t get into that), not to mention being gifted with beautiful set and costume design, a staple of director Kenneth Branagh. I haven’t seen Pete’s Dragon (Which is true for a lot of people, evidently), but I’ve heard nothing but good things from those who have, but that in of itself is what I’m trying to get to: Taking movies that were good, not great, and refining them.

      I don’t personally feel as though Maleficent is in this category, even though it arguably began this trend within Disney itself. At the time of it’s production, there was this flash-in-the-pan trend in Hollywood to re-imagine fairy tales as action movies; I felt the Maleficent movie in particular was made to response to Snow White & The Huntsman, from two years before. Also, I have a personal bias towards that movie, as I went in expecting it to dance around to the familiar story we all know, kind of like the original novel version of Wicked, and then it rewrote the story wholesale. I understood why, but it just felt like a cheap way of doing things.

      Whew. Well, all of that was leading up to where we are now, in remaking a film that even not taking into account its ubiquitous praise over the years, as well as its well-to-do Oscar nomination at the time, was unarguably a critically important film for Disney Animation; whether or not you personally enjoyed the movie, its impact is irrefutable. Many are hailing right now that Moana is the apex by which Disney had finally perfected their tried-and-true formula, but you could very well counter-act, saying they already did so, in 1991. Sure, we can all joke about why Maurice seemed to take weeks or months on end to get back to the village, whereas Gaston and his goons where able to cover the same ground within one night, and we’ve all heard the complaint about Belle’s Stockholm Syndrome likely more than once, and probably even non-ironically sometimes as well (Which, for the record, I believe is complete bullshit), but I feel those points just sell how well Disney’s BatB sells the loose, story-book logic to full effect.

      When it comes to remaking it, it felt as though the filmmakers figured trying to address these decades-old nitpicks would be the same effort the films up to this point have done. And, to their credit, sometimes it works; my absolute favorite part in this remake was the rendition of “Gaston,” where it turns out LeFou bends over backwards to bribe and coerce the other bar patrons to rally up in a chorus to build up Gaston’s confidence once more. There, it was very much tongue-in-cheek, and it worked. For most of the time though, in trying to rationalize a fairy tale, the viewer is constantly distracted by the logic the movie is trying to address and rectify, but in doing so bogs the movie down. In lieu of the success of the previous live-action films, it felt depressingly possible that this was greenlit not because there were valid improvements to be made, but just because it was a marketable brand and they would make money regardless.

      That is why I don’t feel right in demeaning those who made this film, as it very much feels like they were stymied by greedy executive interference. And with a Lion King movie on the horizon, it seems as though that sense of disenchantment will still be hanging around a bit longer.

  9. Jesus, Frog. I think you were maybe a liiiiiiitle too harsh. I saw the movie and I didn’t love it, but I wouldn’t call it a diarrhea splatter, either. Methinks this “review” is a tad too dramatic.

    1. ‘Too dramatic’ and ‘tries too hard’ are Frog’s staples, and if I get another comment rubbed out for saying this, so be it.

      His reviews are generally unpleasant to read, and if I wandered into this one it was just because of the trainwreck watching morbid fascination. Now I pretty much wish I hadn’t.

      With Mouse, even when he’s at his harshest, there’s still a great sense of fair play and wit, but Frog is like hje just tries to be Mouse’s mean counterpart and overshoots it.

      1. I feel the exact same way. Whenever I visit this website and see that image of a frog, my heart instantly and automatically sinks. It’s a Pavlovian response of misery. He’s dour and mean-spirited and I’d very much like Mouse to come back with no more guests, please.

      2. Mouse here. Sorry you didn’t enjoy the review but I feel I should clarify something. I haven’t “gone away” and not having Frog reviews wouldn’t mean I could post more often. I would still post fortnightly regardless. If the Frog reviews aren’t to your taste, that’s fine. Personally I thought this was hilarious (and I liked the movie just fine). Regardless, he ain’t going anywhere as he brings in crazy good page views.

      3. That’s understandable. You liked the restaurant, and you miss the regular chef when he’s not around. I will say one little thing in Frog’s defence, though, which is that guest reviews are done at Mouse’s request, not because the reviewer begs for a platform.

      4. Aiight. I enjoyed it while wondering every minute what the point of it was. But then, I didn’t really have skin in the game as BatB was never a movie that I held close to my heart. I’m picky enough that I did actually appreciate the attempts to fix the wonky chronology of the original movie and some changes really worked for me, like the idea that the domestics are slowly becoming less human. In fact, I found the scene where the last petal fell and they’re spending their last moments together quite moving. Overall, superfluous but not offensive. Three stars.

  10. Sooo….I guess you didn’t like it?

    Honestly, I am kind of glad. I never saw the point and while I can deal with the movie being financial successful (because if anything it is a testament to how beloved the original is), I really don’t want to deal with another Cinderella or Maleficent situation in which a clearly substandard movie is praised to the heavens for being more feminist while being actually an insult to a movie which did female characters way better.

    1. Oh, no worries there. Any inclined columnist would have to reach pretty damn far in order to try and make that claim for Belle’s character in this movie.

  11. I have a confession to make.

    I like this version more than the animated version.

    ( I don’t want to go into detail as to why I thought this version was better and why the animated one was boring, because that would only make me start ranting and would result in me being really b*tchy and unpleasant.
    But I am going to be honest.)

    I understand that you guys hate the Live-Action version because you think it’s making a mockery of the original. But personally, I loved this movie.

    I can’t hate this movie the way you guys can: you all grew up with this movie. You got attached to it.
    But I didn’t: I grew up with other movies. Atlantis, Little Mermaid, Cinderella, Hercules, Star Wars, Harry Potter, you name it. I was a HUGE Pokémon fan and Neopets fan.
    As a result of all of this, I never owned the animated version of Beauty and the Beast, nor did I have any real connection to it.
    When I finally saw it, I thought it was girly. (I was a complete tomboy at that age and rejected really girly stuff.) In my mind, there were a lot of better movies out there, like Return of the Jedi, or the old-timer show version of Land of the Lost, or Hercules. But mostly Star Wars or Harry Potter.

    I like a few of the songs and listen to them, but that’s it.

    Then I saw the live-action version a few weeks ago.
    And I thought it was incredible. The characters were better. The songs were better. I genuinely and truly believed the connections that the characters made.
    It has nothing to do with it being live-action: I make the same connections with Steven Universe or any of the video games that I play. What did it for me was that they tried to stay true to what you guys liked about the first version while adding new story threads and characters that gave me a sense
    Did it always work? No. There are problems, I fully admit.
    But I still prefer this over the original animated version.

    The changes and the altered story are what got me invested.

    And it’s fine if you disagree with me or hate me for liking this. It’s your opinion, and I will respect it.
    I will disagree, but I won’t force my opinion on you.

    We can all agree, though, that at the end of the day, this movie is still a better adaptation (and better film in general) than Legend of the Guardians: the Owls of Ga’Hoole.
    (*Shudders.* That was not a good adaptation. Or movie. I don’t hate it, but I do admit that it’s awful.)

    (I really hope I don’t come off as bitchy or rude during this, and I’m sorry if I do. I’ve been trying to tone it down, so I apologize if am at any point in this.)

  12. Out of all the Disney remakes, I feel Beauty and the Beast was the least justified in its existence. It adds some stuff to expand on the original, but other than that it’s basically the same thing. I understand doing remakes of movies that came out in the 50s/60s, but even today, Beauty and the Beast is fresh in everyone’s minds. It’ll get even less necessary with that Lion King remake they’re doing. If it’s all CG animals, then the movie is basically animated.

    That said, holy shit at the vitriol. No Frog, this movie didn’t ruin the original Beauty and the Beast. It’s still there for us all to enjoy. If the minimal story changes really bothered you that much, just remember that they’re not part of the original. They’re exclusive to the remake.

  13. I’m sorry, but I think this review was far too harsh. I am not familiar with the Bald Frog character, who I assume is being written by someone other than Neil, and I don’t know if he’s supposed to be intentionally over-the-top negative, but Doug Walker was similarly harsh towards this movie and I don’t feel it’s warranted. I saw this with my aunt, and as someone born too late to watch the 1991 movie in the theater, I enjoyed seeing the story told in live-action on the big screen.

    I don’t really get the criticisms of Emma Watson. She was annoying in the first Harry Potter film, but she was supposed to be. After that, I genuinely liked her acting and enjoyed watching her in movies. Belle is supposed to be a character similar to Hermione, as an oddball bookworm (and I think that’s why Watson was cast), so I think it makes sense she would have similar mannerisms. People have seen Watson in other movies and interviews, so I think everyone knows who she is and how she talks opposed to Hermione by now. And FYI, she started acting at age 10, so no one could compare her to age 8.

    I agree to some extent that I wish more had been done with LeFou being gay, but also we must consider that in this time period LeFou could not be openly gay or admit his sexuality to nearly anyone or he might well be thrown in the asylum with Maurice. I think a Disney character who is openly gay and not a side character would be a good thing, however, as in my personal experience, children are inclined to judge and mock the LGBT community in ways they do not mock African-Americans, who are well integrated into children’s entertainment at this point. Doctor Who is far ahead of Americans when it comes to this.

    Almost none of the characters in the original had a French accent, so I don’t see the need to complain about this. And I agree that there was no need for those questions in the original to be answered. In a fairy tale, it’s absolutely fine for a few things to be unexplained, and it didn’t harm the original movie at all. But if you are going to make a new version, you might as well have fun answering some of those questions, and I think this movie did come up with some interesting solutions that did add something to what is otherwise a straight remake.

    In the end, I think this was a fun spectacle loyal to the source material, had charm, and most importantly, put its emphasis on the story, and I was happy to see it. It never needed to be made, true, but as it was made, I think it was done about as well as it could be, and it was definitely better than Maleficent or the 1996 101 Dalmatians, for instance. But that’s just my opinion, of course.

  14. I still can’t really fathom why Jungle Book got so much universal love other than pretty visuals and things that reminded people why the original is a classic. Other than that, that movie had NOTHING worth of value in the story or character department which all felt so poorly thought out and lazily implemented but my opinion doesn’t matter because that damn Disney magic fooled everyone into thinking it was some wonderful masterpiece and I’m sure that Disney magic will continue with these unnecessary remakes unless people stop acting so blind sighted over pretty spectacle and “Oh, I recognize that from my childhood! 10/10 BEST MOVIE EVA!!!!!!!!!”

  15. This review is hilarious. I laughed all the way through. However, there is one glaring omission I feel obligated to point out…
    Why didn’t you mention the wardrobe? You know, the wardrobe that for some reason is narcoleptic now and has creepy empty eyes and a weird flapping mouth? Seriously, what a waste of Audra MacDonald. You have this Tony Award winning singer in your movie musical and you relegate her to only a few lines? They should have cast her as Mrs. Potts so she could be the one singing in the ballroom scene and we would be spared Emma Thompson’s cockney accented talk-singing.
    Overall, Beauty and the Beast was a totally unnecessary remake. The 1991 animated film is already perfect and, as Cogsworth said, “if it’s not Baroque, don’t fix it.” However, I don’t agree that it “ruins” the original film. If anything, it enhances my appreciation for the original film, if only through comparisons.
    Oh, and while I’m nitpicking, Stanley Tucci’s character is a harpsichord, not an organ.
    Cheers

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s