Stockholm Syndrome – Beauty and the Beast (2017)

Reopening the vault.  Everybody knows the story: an arrogant prince gets turned into a furry monster, and can’t break the spell until he finds true love.  Enter a selfless young girl who very much has the potential to do that.  Please believe that Disney is not going to stop their trend of making live action adaptations of their animated classics.  We’ve already gotten Cinderella and The Jungle Book, and Dumbo and the Lion King are right around the corner.  Whether this is to maintain the rights to the properties or simply feed the cash cow, this will not slow down until Disney has taken over the planet.  Some of these projects are going to be better than others, and I think that Beauty and the Beast is a solid addition to their library.

1Part man, part water buffalo.

Now when this first started, I was a little nervous, because I didn’t feel that the opening number Bonjour really brought the thunder.  It’s already a really strong number, and it didn’t pull me into the story with flair like the animated movie or the stage adaptation did.  I feared that this might lack that certain razzle dazzle.  They did figure it out though, and I feel like this gets stronger as the story goes on.  The turning point was right around Gaston’s big number, and I thought Josh Gad is well cast as LeFou.  The controversy around the choice to make the character gay is hilarious to me, because if you go back and watch the original animated movie, he’s playing the same exact character with the same ticks, he just now has a label.  I liked all of the supporting characters, like Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts and Sir Ian McKellen as Cogsworth, but the standout character for me was Ewan McGregor as Lumière.  He is practically unrecognizable in his voice work, and I wouldn’t have thought of him for the role, so kudos to him for doing so much with it.  They manage to make this movie hit notes of sympathy that I didn’t expect as this was wrapping up, and I think it is all due to the supporting characters.

2These two are okay as well.

I heard a lot of complaints about the CGI beast, and I was expecting to get on board with them; I stage managed a theatrical production of this, so I know that you can do just as much with a guy in a costume.  That said, it didn’t really bother me, but maybe that’s just because I saw it on a smaller screen rather then in a theater.  I wasn’t a big fan of the new songs they added to this.  They were a bit generic, and this is something I don’t really understand; you had great source material to pull from the stage production, like “If I Can’t Love Her” or “Me”, I don’t understand why they settled for less.  When this movie is doing its own thing, it is interesting, but comparing runtimes, it is 84 minutes animated or 129 minutes live action.  I’m glad I watched this, but the quality here isn’t high enough to make me ever choose this over the 1991 movie again.

Beauty and the Beast (2017) ***1/2

– Critic for Hire

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