Review: “A Tale as Droll as Time”
March 19, 2017
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“Beauty and the Beast,” directed by Bill Condon (“Dreamgirls,” “Twilight: Breaking Dawn”) tells the story of Belle (Emma Watson), a young woman seen as “strange” in her village because she is a bookworm and the daughter of an inventor (Kevin Kline). Circumstances find Belle held captive by the Beast (Dan Stevens), a prince-turned-monster living alone in his castle and waiting for true love to reverse the spell on him and the castle’s staff.
We live in the age of remakes and sequels of movies that are decades old. Sometimes, the result is a masterpiece like “Mad Max: Fury Road.” Other times, we’re left wondering, “Did they really have to remake ‘Ben-Hur?’”
Thankfully, this remake of “Beauty and the Beast” is not as horrible as CGI chariot races, but it is not as memorable as its 1991 animated counterpart, either.
The movie opens with a backstory of how the prince and his staff come to live in an enchanted castle. After this gloomy opening, we are introduced to Belle and the villagers through the song “Belle.” While this number introduces our heroine, we also meet the boisterous Gaston (Luke Evans) and his sidekick LeFou (Josh Gad).
Evans would go on to steal many scenes throughout the movie.
Later, when Belle is captive in the castle, she meets the cursed staff: Lumiere the candelabra (Ewan McGregor), Cogsworth the clock (Sir Ian McKellan) and Mrs. Potts, the tea kettle (Emma Thompson), among others. Although these characters were CGI, they fit their roles perfectly. McGregor’s Lumiere stood out as my favorite; his song “Be Our Guest” was my favorite scene in the entire movie.
The Beast makes some appearances early on, but he does not really come out of his shell until later in the movie. He and Belle begin to bond over books and art, and we get a little backstory into Belle’s cryptic past. While this is not the only new plot added into the movie, it was the most noticeable. However, it did not really add anything to the overall story.
The well-known ballroom scene where Mrs. Potts sang the titular song, Belle and the Beast danced in their famous formal wear from the animated film. This was the scene that made me realize how hollow the movie felt. I had been sucked into the fun of “Be Our Guest,” but felt nothing during what should have been the most memorable moment. This feeling remained throughout the rest of the film.
I need to address the “first openly gay Disney character” thing. Yes, LeFou is clearly gay. However, they address this by poking fun at the fact. “Ha! LeFou likes Gaston, but Gaston is straight!” The subplot felt more insulting than progressive.
Overall, this is not a bad movie. There are great moments, and most of the characters fit very well. However, an unnecessary added plot (and 40 more minutes of film compared to the original), a miscast Emma Watson and an insulting subplot for LeFou left me disappointed. Maybe this is a sign that tales as old as time should be left that way.
Ben Bruflat can be reached at 581-2812 or firstname.lastname@example.org.