This is the third in an on-going series detailing films that were aborted mid-viewing, and why we couldn’t even finish them.
Disney continues its recent line of live-action adaptations of their animated film library with 2017’s Beauty and the Beast. Led by director Bill Condon, and writers Stephen Chbosky (The Perks of Being a Wallflower) and Evan Spiliotopoulos; this star studded cast includes the likes of Emma Watson, Kevin Kline, Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellen, Emma Thompson, and many more. Already the highest grossing film of 2017 and with over $1.2 Billion in box office revenue making it the 10th highest grossing film of all time; this is a faithful and exacting rehash of the 1991 film of the same name.
…And that is where it falls short.
It is a rehash in ever sense of the word – putting old ideas and old materials into a new format without any significant change or improvement. If you’ve seen the 1991 animated film, you have seen all there is to see. There is nothing new – no new character development, worthy new songs, or story changes to speak of. It may be hyperbolic, but producers likely de-prioritized a quality writing staff, instead suggesting to the acting talent to view the 1991 film for their acting cues.
This, and all of the other recent Disney live-action adaptations (2010’s Alice in Wonderland and its’ 2016 sequel as well as 2016’s The Jungle Book) are obvious money-grabs with no artistic merit of their own. Hopefully they are easily forgotten from our collective consciousness; because at worst, they threaten to sully the history and reputation of their animated predecessors.
Instead of something ripe and fresh for a new generation of Disney fans, we get an overly stage-y production with actors channeling their most Broadway sensibilities. This all doesn’t even mention that there are no likable characters in Beauty and the Beast – the angry and sour Beast, the narcissistic Gaston, his annoyingly oddball sidekick LeFou, the menagerie of selfish castle inhabitants trying to be turned back into humans by tricking Belle, and the boringly whiny Belle. The intangibles – the emotion, the charm, the magic – was lost in this greedy conversion from animation to live-action.
Finally, its worth noting that there is an oddly unsettling, almost creepy feel when watching a live action version of the previously cartoony fun – the gruff Beast and his collection of wacky talking house alliances. None of its works the way it should.
And for that reason, this film was aborted.
The Perpetrator: (a money-hungry) Walt Disney Pictures