(Yeah, you knew. You knew I was going to watch it and review. Eventually.)
Sooooo…. Between all the majorly controversial hype about this movie, and the fact that I love Disney for going and making classic films into live actions, I finally decided to cave and rent the live-action “Beauty and the Beast,” from my local Family Video store.
I had mixed feelings about it, some serious misgivings, and some not as serious, while watching. I do want to say that some controversial things are more subtle than others, but, if you were told ahead of time it was there, you definitely would’ve been on the lookout for/noticed a few things. But, ALLLLLL that aside…
It was pretty good. Hate to give that to Mr. Condon, who is known to be a rabidly leftist agenda advocate, but controversial stuff aside, he did well. Here are some of those things:
- Belle’s mom. Disney is pretty notorious for leaving more than one official Disney princess either entirely orphaned (Snow White, Cinderella) or one-parent-less (Tiana, Ariel, Jasmine, Belle). I did like how they, as of late, are just now including more explanations of why that is. (It’s usually a mysterious, unexplained illness) I do wish they would get a little more creative, though, instead of just relying on illness. It’s a too easy thing to fall back on.
- The return to French roots. Loved, loved, loved this. It’s originally a French tale, so it only makes sense to include more French references, including more detail of the selfish, spoiled little Prince’s party at the beginning.
- The casting choices. I think they did fabulously on the casting choices, they really did. The CGI was also great, and THAT CASTLE!!! O.O My only problem was, as one of my former roommates and major B&B fan said, Emma didn’t portray Belle as kindly as she had been in the original movie. But, I like how she portrayed Belle’s intellect, her bravery. Belle is a TRUE Divergent!
- Ethnically diverse. I did not mind this in the least, and thought it a good edition to the movie.
- They changed the bookstore into a CHURCH. Yes, this is from the SAME director who wants to rush headlong into hotels that he’s staying in to rip out the pages of Bibles placed on bedside tables in each room, because they don’t condone homosexuality (God works in mysterious ways, doesn’t He? So far, Mr. Condon hasn’t been able to find ANY Bibles to rip pages out of!). The reasoning? Apparently, it doesn’t make much sense for a town that for some unknown reason hates reading (or at least, WOMEN reading) to have a bookstore in it. The clergyman in it is portrayed in a more positive light, surprisingly; he talks kindly to Belle as she borrows a book, but she kind of just brushes him off with a, “Thanks, bye,” kind of attitude, which did irritate me a bit… Said clergyman was also one of the few who looked genuinely bewildered and perplexed when Gaston wanted to rush in headlong and kill the Beast with all the villagers in tow, like he was reluctant to take any sort of violent action against someone he didn’t even know. For someone who hates Christianity and Christians as much as Condon does, that pleasantly surprised me, even if it was pretty brief.
Mixed feels about:
- LeFou. Good casting choice on one hand, but acting… subtly “sensual” towards Gaston… ehhhh, no thanks. Also, fun fact: The original character himself was NOT “gay,” as he was making ga-ga eyes over the Bimbettes, those three triplets who’re constantly fawning over Gaston (while in this movie, he meanly says to them, “Not a chance, ladies.”about their odds with Gaston). But, my small consolation in this is, that, if this version really is a so-called “gay” character, then it will perfectly suit his character, since his name is literally, “The fool” in French!
- The Story. I didn’t know what to make of it; there were TONS, and I mean TONS of alterations from the originals. Gaston did not set up an actual wedding; he played along with Maurice, then his temper gets the best of him, and he leaves the man out in the wilderness to die, and when Maurice confronts him, Gaston then claims the man’s lunacy; the enchantress disguises herself as a beggar townsperson in Belle’s town; the baker’s wife is evidently Mrs. Potts (in the original, he calls for his wife, Maria; in the live action, he confesses he seems to be missing something, but can’t recall what… or who); Beast and Belle use a magical book to travel to Paris to discover the truth behind Belle’s mother; Belle holds a deeper fascination about her mother; she actually does get to say good bye to Maurice in the live action and deceives him so she can take his place; Belle actually attempts to escape the castle more than once; lastly, the story returned to the original roots of Maurice’s trespass on the Beast’s property to stealing a rose (it wasn’t THE rose, don’t worry). Some I liked, some I felt iffy towards, like it was too… I don’t know… strained. I think the magical book thing was more of a fan thing, and a bit unnecessary to the major plot, as interesting as it was.
What I didn’t care for:
- The over-dramaticness, and politically correctness, of Madame Guard de Robe–Yes, she was a BIT dramatic in the original, but did not have that over-silliness, dress Belle strangely, or imply political correctness in the sense of cross-dressing/transgenderism. Mind, in the original, she DID attack ONE man by dressing him foolishly in women’s clothing, but it was to freak him out and scare him off, which worked marvelously– it was mere silliness. This has gone from silly to strange and bizarre: She dresses up three intimidating men, two of which running off screaming in horror, while the third gets a funny, delighted little grin on his mug, and prances off in his new outfit, while the human turned wardrobe shrilly sings out, “Be FREE!” A subtle, yet disturbing, message. I found it, at the very least, unnerving and very weird. I can hardly imagine WHAT Disney is going to be doing to their rendition of the live-action Mulan….
- The lack of Chip’s role. In the original, Chip had an important role to play– accidentally smuggled in by Belle, he helps Belle and Maurice escaped being locked up and sent to the loony bin via one of Maurice’s inventions. In this version, it’s Belle’s own individualistic spirit and wit that saves the day. Nope, no room for bumbling– or, in this case, humbling– sidekicks.
- And, of course, the pervasiveness of homosexuality. Even if you don’t really look for it, you’re sure to notice some things askew, and this kept me from truly enjoying the movie. Even though Gad himself said that Le Fou being “gay” wasn’t actually IN the script, that does not mean he couldn’t have been told to do certain things a certain way, or to ACT “gay.”
My rating: 3 out of 5. Sorry, Condon, but stick to your other films. Hands off Disney.