My wife really likes the Twilight movies. Because of this, there are occasional periods in my life where I have the immeasurable joy of getting to watch them with her… such pure and unending joy. The previous two days have been one of those times.
Because of this, I was very well aware that Bill Condon was the director of Breaking Dawn: Parts 1 and 2. Today, I discovered that Bill Condon just so happens to be the director of this movie as well.
That was the third warning sign I got about this movie…
The first one was the fact that Emma Watson was casted as Belle in the first place. This is not because Watson is necessarily a bad actress (… most of the time…), but because all of her breakout roles were defiant, valiant, feminist-ish type characters. And while Belle was certainly peculiar and against the norm, she also had a sweetness and timidity about her that I wasn’t sure that Watson could portray.
The second warning sign was the fact that Condon went to the press and made sure EVERYBODY knew that LeFou was gay… now usually when a director goes out of his way to make sure everyone knows that a character is gay in his movie, it’s usually to pander, and not because the movie is going to improve because of this choice.
So when this movie turned out to be a total disappointment, I wasn’t shocked. What did shock me was the fact that my wife, who absolutely adores Beauty and the Beast, leaned over to me halfway through the movie and said, “This is so boring…”
(I apologize in advance if I seem to be comparing this movie to the original a lot in my review, but I feel it best explains why many of the things in this movie do not work.)
Emma Watson does not do a good job in this movie. Almost all of her reactions to things seem extremely held back. Whether she’s showing fear, joy, or affection, there was almost never a time where she convinced me of what emotion she was trying to portray… and when your movie is about a girl who falls in love with her captor in a short amount of time, it’s kind of a big deal when Belle is completely unconvincing of these types of strong emotions. As a singer she did fine, but as an actor, she was extremely lacking.
Luke Evans as Gaston was painfully milquetoast. Instead of actually playing Gaston, the movie seemed satisfied enough with just having Evans play Bard from The Hobbit, except he’s a villain now. The man does not fit the meat-head, burly, overly-masculine personality that made Gaston in the original so memorable.
Finally, we have Dan Stevens as The Beast… it’s hard to determine his actual acting quality because he really only voices an animated sasquatch, but half of the time, the man is very serviceable in his role. The other half of time, he was just as dull and mediocre as Watson and Evans.
The animation quality is all over the place in this movie. The general portrayal of Lumière, Cogsworth, and Mrs. Potts did not allow for a vast array of effective emotions. There always seemed to be this disconnect with all of these characters. The Beast himself was alright, but there was one part of the movie where I was wondering “Hmm, I wonder if they put any thought into the animation of his body.” And sure enough, there’s a scene where The Beast is shirtless, and it looks like a cheap fur suit. I would say that it took me out of the movie, but Emma Watson’s dull performance in that particular scene already did that.
On the other hand, there were scenes that have an extraordinary vibrance to them. This is something that I like to note about the Twilight saga, but especially in Condon’s renditions: there appeared to be a massive attempt to create amazing imagery to compensate for the fact that Bella Swann and Edward Cullen are stale and uninteresting characters.
Basically, what I’m saying is that Belle and Beast have now become Disney’s versions of Bella and Edward… except fewer people are going to criticize this movie because you twits will eat up any crap Disney feeds you.
There were scenes in the movie that did show a spark of passion and sentiment within the lines of dialogue. It was odd that these lines were consistently ones that were never in the original movie.
This movie rips many, many lines from the original Beauty and the Beast, and almost all of them completely lack the spark that they had in the original, almost as if they just forced them into the movie just because they were in the original.
Josh Gad as LeFou was actually fine. The majority of the scenes he’s in benefit from the fact that he’s in them. However, his character doesn’t benefit from the fact that he’s now gay (imagine my shock). See… LeFou was slightly effeminate in the original movie, but because they drastically increased his effeminacy in this one (and because Disney movies are painfully safe), it was impossible for me not to predict the following two things:
- That LeFou was definitely gay, but his gayness was only going to be hinted at instead of full-blown.
- That because LeFou was gay, he was eventually going to become a good guy because [reasons].
Now the reason LeFou worked in the original was because he was Gaston’s pitiful, weaselly lap-dog. He’s an evil henchmen who intentionally reaffirms Gaston’s ego while simultaneously reaffirming his stupidity.
Now that he’s gay, the movie seems to insinuate that the only reason LeFou follows Gaston around is because he wants so desperately to make out with him. Of course, all of this gets dropped as soon as LeFou becomes a good guy. This change in character not only harmed LeFou, but it also harmed Gaston.
The original music numbers are all generally acceptable (except for a few). The new songs they put in (and they put a lot of new songs into there) did not feel organic to the actual story. None of the new songs benefit the movie in any conceivable way.
The fight sequence at the end was so sanitized and uninteresting.
Basically, this Beauty and the Beast follows the original rendition beat-for-beat, except Belle is almost always half-hearted in her emotional responses to things, Gaston is a generic villain with absolutely no charm or sinisterness, The Beast is meh, LeFou is gay, and all of the talking furniture have extremely little character to them.
This is not even to mention the fact that everything they put in there that was new almost never benefited the story. The entire product feels like a husk of its original form. There are moments where I enjoyed the film, and there were moments that were visually breathtaking, but as a whole, the film just seems like an unfortunate waste of effort.
3 out of 10