Weekly Movie Review: Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast; wholly unnecessary, nothing to see here

Sequels and remakes, for an extended period of time, have been a popular default for Hollywood to turn to when running low on ideas, but still hoping to generate as much money as possible. In recent years, another trend, courtesy primarily of those fine folks at Walt Disney, has emerged: live-action retellings of beloved fairy tales. In the last couple of years we’ve been provided with such versions of Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, and The Jungle Book. This past weekend gave us yet another live-action adaption of another fairy tale.

Beauty and the Beast, set in France during the mid-1700s, is the story of an unlikely romance between a beautiful woman and a man who has been forced to spend his days as a monstrous, beastly creature. The once-handsome prince, as a result of his inability to look beyond the exterior of an individual, is cursed and turned into a hideous being. However, like most fairy tales, all is not lost. The miserable curse can be reversed, but only if he falls in love with someone and them with him, which is easier said then done.

Using a ticking clock of falling rose petals, the Beast and his collection of loyal servants are running out of time if they hope to return to human form. Once the final petal falls and hits the ground, the curse becomes permanent. However, Belle (Emma Watson) comes across the mysterious castle in search of her missing father. The astoundingly stunning Belle looks to be the Beast’s last chance at true love and reversing the curse. Over the course of the next several days, something develops between the two, but is it simple feelings of infatuation or true love, capable of breaking the longstanding curse?

Anyone with even a passing familiarity of the beloved fairy tale knows how this film plays out in the end, with a satisfying conclusion for all characters involved. And normally, a film sticking so closely to the original is a good thing, but in this instance that doesn’t ring true.  Those hoping for any kind of new or unique idea in this live-action reinvention will be sorely disappointed. The writing is completely, 100 percent devoid of anything original; the songs are the same and the characters essentially spout identical lines. There is absolutely nothing new the film brings to the table, with its lazy writing on display, front and center.

In addition to the film’s less than stellar originality, a number of the performances are incredibly cartoony. The actor portraying Gaston, the man pining for Belle’s love and affection, is notably bad. He’s way over the top in every single painful scene in which he appears; its almost as if he’s mocking the character and the entire production with his terrible performance. The film is also about 20 minutes too long for a film of its ilk.

Beauty and the Beast will likely set box office records, but it’s in no way deserving of such recognition. It’s lazy, uninspired and at times, extremely hard to watch. 1.5 out of 5.