So once again we have survived.

Beauty and the Beast (Disney remake)

Disney’s new live-action rendition of Disney’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST is a tale as old as time, a collection of songs as old as 1991, plus new ones created in 1993 for the Broadway musical. Unlike Jon Favreau’s excellent computer-animation-that-seems-like-live-action remake THE JUNGLE BOOK, which melded beloved elements of the 1967 animated classic with more serious drama from Rudyard Kipling’s book, this is a very faithful, at times scene-for-scene re-enactment of the 1991 best picture nominated hit. But that’s the idea: it’s the movie version of the stage version of the animated version of the traditional fairy tale. Director Bill Condon (CANDYMAN 2: FAREWELL TO THE FLESH) and adapters Stephen Chbosky (RENT) and Evan Spiliotopoulos (HERCULES with The Rock) seem to look at it much more as a restaging than a reinterpretation.

That gives it a slight whiff of the experimental quality of Gus Van Sant’s PSYCHO, though it will go over better with the generation raised with a stack of squeaky-clamshell-VHS boxes in their basement than that movie did with anyone (except me). You sit back and you watch the familiar story, it’s very much the same and yet different this time. They’re singing “Be Our Guest,” and it’s the same kind of Busby-Berkeley style montage of dancing plates and shit, only this time it’s not drawings, it’s computer renderings. And then there’s that yellow dress, and that chandelier, and that 360 camera move, this time with an actual camera move (I think).

Belle is Emma Watson (THE BLING RING) now instead of a cartoon, but she’s still known as the most beautiful woman in town and also a weirdo because she likes to– Well, she has a hobby of, you know, even though she’s– I mean, this almost seems too crazy to write down into words. What I’m trying to say is that although she is a woman, which she is, she also reads books. With words in them. She is a person who does reading. But a woman one.

Ah, I’m just joshin. It’s weird to think now that in 1991, “bookworm Disney princess” seemed kind of progressive, but it did. THE LITTLE MERMAID had been a surprise hit two years earlier, reviving the company’s tradition of animated fairy tales. At that point the last “Disney Princess” movie had been SLEEPING BEAUTY in 1959, so there was some serious updating that needed to be done. The characterization already feels quaint even though they added a part where the townspeople harass her for teaching a little girl to read, like they’re the fuckin Taliban. But Watson’s mere expressions give Belle an intelligence above that of the bland positivity of the drawings.

Many people in the theater chuckled when Belle first appeared wearing that same blue and white dress you remember. For a second it’s like a parade at Disneyland. In close up, we can see that the dress is stitched together from different dresses, showing her ingenuity and working class bonafides. But that’s Belle all right, going through that same town with that same number about how badly she wants to move to a city and get away from this bullshit “provincial life” even though politically it would really help us out to have more Belles spread around so the small pockets of backwards people who think women shouldn’t read and hairy people should be shot on sight don’t get equal say to the larger population of nice people.

(Isn’t that what it’s about? I think that’s what it’s about.)

I was skeptical about Luke Evans (FURIOUS 6) as the arrogant villain/suitor Gaston  – I thought they should’ve gotten Channing Tatum. But Evans turns out to be the highlight of the movie, at least early on, before the story switches him to a straight up evil dick who chains Belle’s dad to a tree to be eaten by wolves. Before that Evans captures the comic vanity but makes him more human, less stupid, which I found interesting. Yes, he’s a dipshit and needs to respect Belle’s rejection of him, but he still seems almost likable. In another story he could be the romantic lead who becomes a better person and wins her over. In fact, the added prologue of a pre-Beast Prince shows him to be way crueler and douchier than Gaston is ever shown to be. (That’s gotta be the worst addition to the story.)

During the end credits they have bloopers and Stevens is in a jumpsuit with dots all over it and the camera pans over and Ron Perlman is standing there with his arms crossed shaking his head and Linda Hamilton is standing next to him and he’s like “Look at this motherfucker.”

The Beast was a breakthrough feat of character animation in 1991, and I think Stevens’ mo-cap version mostly coasts on our memories of that. I mean, he’s fun to watch, but his expressions are less sophisticated than we’ve seen in, say, the new PLANET OF THE APES movies, or at least the acting is not as successful. And I think a quarter of a century later his personal transformation from jerk to sweetheart could stand some added development and nuance.

Speaking of transformations, they really didn’t solve the original’s unusual problem of nobody wanting to see the cool monster turn into a dorky human Fabio dude at the end. And the long hair is definitely not doing Stevens any favors. All the male servant characters are even worse in their human forms with their shitty wigs and mustaches, like they’re in that NUTCRACKER: THE UNTOLD STORY movie. As living candleholders and clocks and shit their realistic detail makes them less expressive than their drawn counterparts. My favorite in this version is Cogsworth (Ian McKellan, THE KEEP), whose face made of moving clock parts looks really cool, and he has a great TITANIC moment when death-by-end-of-curse seems imminent and he says “Gentlemen, it’s been an honor to work with you.”

One cool thing about the casting is that Kevin Kline plays Belle’s dad and Audra McDonald plays the lady that gets turned into a wardrobe, so it’s a mini-RICKI AND THE FLASH reunion. I was hoping there’d be a part where Diablo Cody is dancing joyously in the front.

I’m sure plenty of people have written about the unfortunate domestic violence parallels of this fairy tale, the idea of a woman thinking she can teach this man (who abducts her!) some etiquette and wait for him to learn to be nice to her. Instead I’ll address another aspect that nags at me a little – the troubling SONG OF THE SOUTHian idea that the servants would be happy and proud to sacrifice their whole lives taking care of some rich prick whose greed and superficiality got all of them cursed. And even though they didn’t do anything at all they got a by far worse version of the curse than he did. Which would you rather get stuck as: a big hairy monster, or a talking feather duster?

These animated-inanimate-objects remain in the roles of pampering this worthless prince 24-7 for years on end and they don’t complain. I mean, imagine if you worked a shitty job and your boss sucked so bad that you turned into inanimate objects trapped in his house for years and years and you had to work for him even harder because you’re living through this fucking body horror, you look down at yourself and you are not made of flesh, you are made of metal parts or whatever, and you’re not even shaped like a human and you’re small. Every single thing you do takes way more work, and your very future depends on teaching him to be less of an asshole, and he’s not even that interested.

Would you be honored to die for that shit? Let me be the first to say that I wouldn’t. This is why we have unions, people.

When they turn back into humans we learn that some of them had loved ones out there missing them for years on end. That’s very sad. Although I’m not sure why they didn’t check in on them at the workplace. There are a couple things I wonder about relating to the uncursing of the teacup Chip. Shortly before they all turn human again he falls but is just barely caught. What would’ve happened if he broke? Would he then morph into a pile of body parts? Would they be bloody and chopped up, or clean?

Also, are we all gonna ignore that he went there as a kid and was there for years, presumably aging mentally, so now he is an adult in a child’s body?

Anyway, I bet the next day at work was weird.

This is the new thing now, Disney is making live action or live action-esque versions of all their animated classics. I thought it was a joke when I first heard “Guy Ritchie’s ALADDIN,” but it’s real. They’re also doing it with THE LITTLE MERMAID, MULAN (directed by WHALE RIDER‘s Niki Caro) and THE LION KING (Favreau again). When they run out of those I figure they’ll do MARY POPPINS animated, but with live action penguins. And reverse ENCHANTED: princess from live action fairy tale land transported to contemporary animated city. And SONG OF THE SOUTH but the Brer Fox/Brer Bear scenes will be live action and the racist parts will be a water flume ride.

I’m sure some of these will be better than BEAUTY AND THE BEAST and some of them will be worse. This is an interesting restaging of the animated musical, hardly a replacement, but fun to compare differences and similarities.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Monday, April 24th, 2017 at 10:55 am and is filed under Family, Fantasy/Swords, Musical, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

55 Responses to “Beauty and the Beast (Disney remake)”

  1. I’ve had to force myself not to talk about BEAUTY AND THE BEAST to my loved ones if I want them to continue to love me back. I know it’s not exactly the hottest take on the market anymore but I fucking DESPISE this story in all its forms. As somebody who grew up in a house with a Beast who never learned his lesson and never transformed into a nice, handsome prince, despite all the patience and compassion showed by the Belle he kept prisoner, I find it personally affrontive. This story, in defiance of all that I know to be true, not only declares that it is Woman’s place to tolerate the brutishness of Man (a demeaning message that gets repeated in everything from TWILIGHT to KNOCKED UP to Jim Belushi sitcoms), but creates a convenient fantasy in which her tolerance is actually effective in changing him. “Sure, he might abuse you, but just stick not out and I’m sure he’ll learn.” I’d rather show a young girl A SERBIAN FILM than expose her to this toxic apology for the patriarchy.

    This has all been said a million times before but it’s how I’ve felt for years. But thank you, Vern, for also noticing the horrific class aspects of this story that no one ever mentions. The literal dehumanization of the servant class is unquestioned by everyone in the film, and so the audience placidly accepts that some folks are merely accessories for the people who actually matter. It’s like a moving version of that famous painting I hate where the servants are getting blown around by a storm while their glamorous masters happily dance, completely oblivious to the suffering their romantic gesture has caused to their social lesser.

    Fuck BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. Fuck it to death.

  2. I have and have had bosses I think would qualify for a cursing. Knowing my luck, it would have been one of my bosses when working retail and I’d get stuck as a damned cash register. If it were to happen now my options now are a computer or iPhone.

  3. Crushinator Jones

    April 24th, 2017 at 2:26 pm

    “Life is so unnerving for a servant who’s not serving/He’s not whole without a soul to wait upon” is a nice rhyme but it’s total fucking garbage, ideologically.

    “A catchy, pithy remark helps soothe some poor shlub about being exploited by a beastly asshole” is 100% accurate but I don’t like that that movie is ok with it. Never have.

    Good review.

  4. I get that these live-action Disney joints are basically just nerdstalgia pictures for a certain subset of young-to-middle aged women, but I’m honestly baffled by the appeal. Kids still watch and love the beautifully animated but ideologically evil originals, who is going to be watching or even remembering the gaudy, overblown live-action ones in even like, a year? Has a single child watched that Glenn Close Dalmations movie that raked in a ton of money in the late 90s in the past, I dunno, 10 years?

    Hermione-Real-Person Version is to Cocteau’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST as THE FORCE AWAKENS is to STAR WARS (1977) with the caveat that I’m a fuckin adult who with a reputation to protect so of course I like the Cocteau film more than the George Lucas one I swear

  5. I think this will enter the pantheon of Vern reviews that are far better than the movie itself. (Although I haven’t seen this remake and probably never will, I’ve seen the original, so I think I get the gist).

    Also, I think they’re already making Mary Poppins sequel (starring Emily Blunt, I think?).

  6. Grimgrinningchris

    April 24th, 2017 at 7:11 pm

    I understand that there are story elements that are (what’s the word everyone is using now)…problematic. They’re also inherent in the story itself which, if I’m not mistaken, was originally written to prepare scared young girls for arranged marriages.

    That said, there is some questionable morality in pretty much every fairy tale.
    So do we toss the whole lot of them?

    Or do we realize their pretty much unshakable longevity and say “these stories aren’t going away- so let’s try to make them better”? And I think a real, honest effort to do just that was made here.

    The underlying story itself may be cringingly old fashioned and archaic in its mindset. But if my niece is going to grow up knowing one version of this fairy tale, I’d sure as shit prefer that it be this one that tells her it’s okay to be smart, it’s okay to want more for herself, it’s okay for men to be in love with each other etc…

    We may be a ways off from a totally progressive version of these types of stories without making them unrecognizable from their sources but this is a giant step in the right direction.

    It’s also well shot, gorgeous, full of sincere emotion and excellent staging of brilliant songs (Vern, though there ARE a handful of iconic shots lifted but I know the animated version by heart and this isn’t 1/10th as slavish to its source as Psycho is- the majority of the staging and choreography of the musical numbers is actually completely different).
    I think the new story elements work extremely well too and truly give the story (and Belle) more depth as opposed to similar add ons (like Willy Wonka’s dad) that feel tacked on and pointless.
    Yes, I’d have preferred they make Beast’s emotional transformation smoother- but I buy him both as an entitled prick and as a lovesick puppy that would do anything for Belle- even if the transition itself is a bit sloppy.
    I also like the mirroring of how Maurice brought Belle up versus how Beasts father brought him up. He had to fight to shed the shackles of his entitlement and the cruelty ingrained in him (and being isolated- never had any chance before Belle to know that it was wrong to be that way.
    Again- more concerted attempts to “fix” what all previous iterations (including the animated version)- and while definitely not always successful, it wasn’t for lack of trying. Especially on Condon and Watson’s parts.
    Okay, now I’m just rambling.

    If they’d listened to me and had Sascha Baron Cohen play Lumiere instead of McGregor (who admittedly does way better than I’d expected) then this would be my favorite movie of 2017 so far.

  7. Mr. Majestyk, if you want to fuck Beauty and the Beast… BE MY GUEST!

    Yes, they are doing a MARY POPPINS sequel and Emily Blunt seems like good casting. I don’t think it would be impossible to do that well, but I do think it’s unlikely. I’m actually more down with Favreau doing THE LION KING because I’ve never been a fan of the original, even though I’ve given it like three chances. I bet he’ll enhance the drama that already works, but hopefully will find something better than the tangents about how great it is to be a farting warthog.

    But I always wanted to see the Julie Taymor musical. Would’ve been cool if they got her to do a movie of it.

  8. Chris – I didn’t mean to imply that it’s shot-for-shot, or for that to be a criticism. I thought it was fun to see those moments that were the same. I guess kind of like they have done in some comic book movies where they have shots based on famous panels.

  9. Grimgrinningchris

    April 24th, 2017 at 7:25 pm

    Also while we’re on the subject of singing girls and the monsters who love them, I’d like to vote for Vern to do a series on PHANTOM OF THE OPERA versions…

    Chaney, Rains, Weber, Englund, Argento etc… and revisit PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE along with em.

  10. Grimgrinningchris

    April 24th, 2017 at 7:27 pm

    Ha. I actually typed “or Watchmen” after Psycho and then deleted it.

    I gotcha though. On first read, I did think you were implying that the numbers were (at least nearly) shot for shot.

  11. These Disney animated films are built on old tales so rich that you can do a lot with them. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the Jungle Book movie. But I just don’t understand the appeal of mimicking the animated film to the extent that this film appears to.

    I actually think a live-action Aladdin film could be really fun. (I don’t think I knew that Guy Ritchie is supposed to direct). A couple of years ago, I watched the 1924 Douglas Fairbanks Thief of Baghdad, and it was an absolute delight. If you have two and a half hours and don’t mind silent film, then it’s absolutely worth your time.

  12. I thought this was about as lame as a film can get without actually being egregious in any particular way (besides redundancy). Just completely pointless; everything looked better in the more overtly cartoonish style of the original, Watson is a poor lead (and lacklustre singer), and the new stuff drags and doesn’t add anything really memorable The new songs are pretty poor (besides the half-minute ditty Kline sings), particularly the one the Beast sings, and worse than that left-over song (HUMAN AGAIN) they added to the Special Edition about a decade ago. I hear the best (all?) songs from the Stage Adaptation weren’t used either. Set design was good, but the camera work did not do a particularly good job of showing it off, a pet peeve of mine. The only real standouts were Evans and Gadd.

    I also thought MR. HOLMES, while more interesting this, was kind of ridiculous and sort of terrible, and made me think how short a distance there is between low-brow fiasco and critically acclaimed “classy” independent, so maybe Condon and I don’t mix, even though I loved GODS AND MONSTERS

  13. Been over 20 yrs since my last viewing but I always really liked the original but man this review and thread just blew my mind. I have no clue how I never picked up on the fact that ALL of the servants (who the wealthy view as “accessories”) were turned into literal accessories & objects via the curse. Shit!!!

    As far as this version goes I’ll pass. The little I saw of both CINDERELLA & THE JUNGLE BOOK was pretty terrible and insultingly boring. Nothing seems more insultingly superfluous to me than these remakes. Especially since Disney doesn’t really need them in this era where Star Wars and Marvel Studios print them money.

    This animated classics to live action trend Disney is riding is just another pointless cashgrab. What is sadder is for everyone of these uneccessary remakes of perfectly fine movies we’re getting we could’ve gotten 3 other original movies instead.

    It would be one thing if they all followed Burton’s Alice in Wonderland concept. Like that movie sucked but I gave it credit cause at least it was something new. A sequel to the animated classic instead of a remake. Or Malificient which gave a different POV of the Sleeping Beauty story.

    I initially thought all these joints would be like that. Movies that would work as sequels or sidestories to the classic Disney joints. That would’ve been a good way to make up for all those shitty DTV sequels to those flicks disney startes making in the 90s but Disney got shook and just played it safe in making them straight up remakes.

    TBH the way they’re shitting on their classic vault from a quality standpoint I’d much rather they just keep turning their theme park attractions into movies instead.

  14. At least my boy Dan Stevens has LEGION to counter this misfire but I’m kinda glad that this has exposed to more people what a shitty actress Emma Watson truly is. All that Harry Potter money and she still could never hire a decent acting coach?

  15. RE: 101 DALMATIANS. I don’t know if the life action version has an important place in any kid’s heart, but it’s still on TV regularly. I guess because of its big name star and her very entertaining performance. (Say what you want about the movie, but if you say a bad word about Glenn Close’s performance, you are wrong.) Not sure if a new live action version would add anything new to the story (maybe except on less focus on the two bumbling criminals who fall on their ass and get hit in the head a lot, that you can find in every John Hughes script after HOME ALONE.), but I wouldn’t mind if they try.

    Honestly, I’m very torn about the current output of live action remakes of Disney classics. I really have to disagree with Broddie here. I mean, those movies are cash grabs, no doubt about it, but at least they seem to put a certain amount of effort into it, with seriously good results. (Disclaimer: Haven’t seen this one.) I was surprised how good THE JUNGLE BOOK worked and CINDERELLA doesn’t try to do anything new with the story, but because of its confidence in the source material it totally works. This isn’t “Not your parents’ Cinderella” or “Cinderella, but with an edgy, new twist, told from the perspective of a former supporting character, because we try to be cool and act all emberassed of fairy tales”, no it’s “Okay, motherfuckers, this is fucking Cinderella and if you got a problem with that, fuck you!” And the result is great! Compare these two movies to 101 DALMATIANS and tell me Disney isn’t at least trying to turn the shitty idea of remaking the animated classics into something great!

    I totally take this over ALICE IN TIM BURTON GIVES HIS HATERS WHAT THEY WANT AND DOES WHAT THEY ACCUSE HIM OF FOR YEARS or HAVE YOU HEARD THAT THE EVIL WITCH MALIFICENT IS JUST A MISUNDERSTOOD VICTIM, but only because these movies were awful. I actually am super excited for Guy Ritchie’s* ALADDIN and hope that they allow him to go at least SHERLOCK HOLMES 2 crazy.

    Hell, I wish more people would’ve watched TRON and LONE RANGER, so that Disney would make such movies instead, but they found a sweet spot between shameless commercialism and letting autheurs do what they want pretty quick. So until further notice and because I can’t wait for GARETH EVANS ARISTOCATS, I’m okay with it.

    *Wait. A white guy from Britain is directing this? I thought Hollywood is segregating directors after the skin color and/or gender of the title characters these days?

  16. Grimgrinningchris

    April 25th, 2017 at 10:00 am

    There’s some straight up crazy talk in here. Watson is a shitty actress now? Come the fuck on.

    I’ll admit that her and Radcliffe both have some wonky performances over the course of the HP series- but it taught them both to act. Grint was really the only natural of the three leads.
    But I think they’ve both grown into very solid actors.
    Between Thr Bling Ring, Perks Of Being A Wallflower and this one (to say nothing of her offscreen awesomeness) Watson is easily my favorite young actress going right now.

  17. I don’t know jack shit about some WALLFLOWER movie. Never saw it but her work in REGRESSION & COLONIA were some of the worst performances I’ve ever seen from a female lead & I grew up watching Cannon Films and Full Moom Video releases. Her work in NOAH was also beyond basic and normally Aronofsky could get a decent performance out od anybody. He even made Mila Kunis seem like a real person on film one time.

  18. CJ – ALADDIN was actually my favorite out of those Disney Renaissance period releases.

    I vividly remember my dad asking me if I wanted to see ALADDIN or MALCOLM X one night we were going to the theater.

    He asked me because I was an unconvetional 9 year old who he knew wanted to see MALCOLM X but I chose ALADDIN cause I had seen the ARABIAN NIGHTS opening from that film on The Disney Channel preview for it and the animation (these were the days I thought I’d grow up to be a cartoonist) completely floored me. So did the rest of the movie in the end.

    If Ritchie tackles his version with the same stylish flair and “fuck your pre-conceived notions” attitude he used for his SHERLOCK pictures I think I could get jiggy with it and consider it an exception.

  19. “I vividly remember my dad asking me if I wanted to see ALADDIN or MALCOLM X one night we were going to the theater.”

    Sounds like a real “Choose the ball or the sword” moment.

  20. Lmao my dad did end up kinda puzzled. I can’t imagine how soft he thought his son would end up being for a moment there. For what it’s worth we did see X a couple of weeks later but we didn’t go off assasinating modern shoguns around NYC or anything like that.

  21. I’m not bothered by the dubious (to say the least) moral implication of the story of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, though I can well understand why someone with Mr. M’s experience would find it absolutely nauseating, and they’d not be the least bit wrong about that. If I required my cinema to have good moral lessons, I’d lose 90% of action movies at least, and so I’m usually willing to overlook the real-world implications of fiction. My ability to do that is completely dependent on the privilege I’ve enjoyed to have a life more or less free of that kind of real-life awfulness, but I’m willing to indulge that privilege for a strong work of fiction, and I think the cartoon BEAUTY AND THE BEAST is one.

    But I do find it absolutely morally reprehensible to spend $160 million bucks making a gaudy over-designed photorealistic and bloated, but functionally identical recreation of an already enormously popular and universally recognized movie from less than 30 years ago. I’m sorry, but that is the exact opposite of art. It’s unconscionably crass, without even a fig leaf of artistic pretense. I’ve been really critical of movies like JURASSIC WORLD or FORCE AWAKENS as being shameless nostalgia porn utterly bereft of ambition or reason for being, but those look like Stan Brakhage compared to this. This exists purely to remind people of that thing that they liked when they were kids, with zero interest in anything beyond that. I honestly cannot believe that anyone who has any serious belief that popular cinema can be art is willing to tolerate this utterly empty nostalgia handjob.

    So yes, fuck this movie for existing, and especially fuck the world for making it the 17th highest-grossing movie of all time. Your callow disdain for imagination and inspiration continues our cultural journey down the black hole of entirely referential artistic bankruptcy. (not you guys personally. just the world in general).

  22. “This exists purely to remind people of that thing that they liked when they were kids, with zero interest in anything beyond that.” I don’t think it’s just about this. I think it’s also about building their audience with the next generation. Even if parents are sharing the original with their kids, this is a way for Disney to give those kids something for themselves. They know it’s appealing to kids, so why not give the new little ones their own movie to build their memories around? And yes, rake in a giant pile of gold they can dive into like Scrooge McDuck. Sure, it’s partially cynical and lazy, but overall, I don’t think it’s that terrible.

  23. I agree Luke Evans was the best and even more so. I thought he really showed how you may think Gaston is a harmless goof but if you enable him he’s actually really dangerous. That’s Trump, which I’m sure is what the 1991 animated version was trying to warn us about.

    That Ron Perlman outtake killed me.

  24. Oh, also “the main problem of nobody wanting to see him turn into a dorky Fabio dude” is so true. When I was 14 I thought a much better ending would be Belle was too late to break the curse so she had to put her money where her mouth is and love the Beast for what’s inside forever.

    But I guess that would suck even more for the candles and teapots.

    Did they really do nothing tho? In this new intro they seemed to join in with the prince ganging up on the poor, right?

  25. Maggie — I don’t doubt that it’s about “building their audience for the next generation,” but remind me what’s not spine-chillingly cynical and artistically bankrupt about that?

  26. I do wonder how the 90s TV show version with Linda Hamilton and my fellow Washington Heights native Mr. Ron Perlman has not been turned into a modern movie yet? Maybe now after the massive financial success of this one someone will try it.

  27. Whether you interpret Watson’s acting as good or bad, and it will have much to do with your own personal taste, there’s little doubt to me that she is highly effective (otherwise we wouldn’t be talking about her). Her turn in NOAH is still burned into my brain. And as much as I hated REGRESSION, I thought she was the best thing about it.

  28. grimgrinningchris

    April 25th, 2017 at 12:51 pm

    Now I’m starting to feel like I’m the one that’s nuts.

    At least I’m not the sole Vern-ite that thinks Watson is super (again, admittedly AFTER finally learning to stop acting primarily with her eyebrows at some point late in the HP series).

    But yeah, I loved this movie… guess I’m crazy. Ha.

  29. A grown man I work with recently asked me if I was excited for this.

    A GROWN FUCKING MAN.

  30. Grimgrinningchris

    April 25th, 2017 at 3:10 pm

    I was ridiculously excited for it. I love live action musicals (when the songs are good) and big production numbers (when they’re well staged) and I already loved the music anyway so… and I am a 41 year old straight man, so…

    Also The Perks Of Being A Wallflower is the best studio teen/high school drama of the last quarter century.

  31. I’m sorry, GGChris, I didn’t mean to look as if I was pissing on something you like and I didn’t mean for my post to appear as if I was down on musicals period (for the record, I like musicals, too).

    It’s this latest Disneyfication of their already existing films I’m complaining about.

  32. Grimgrinningchris

    April 26th, 2017 at 4:52 am

    I get that reaction on a gut level. I really do. And as a pretty ridiculous Disney fan (shit, look at my name) I was originally super hesitant about the idea of any of these.

    But I’ve liked every single one so far. Starting with Maleficent (though that one really doesn’t count) and straight up loved The Jungle Book and B&TB.

    And B&TB is the first one to go all the way on adapting the musical numbers in full and since I’m just a sucker for that shit… Give me brilliant music and fun, stellar performances OF that music and any other weaknesses are going to fall by the wayside for me (see also: Purple Rain). Though in this case I truly think the weaknesses ARE inherent in the story and the changes made really do make it work better as a story and at least make an honest effort to “fix” some of the more troublesome aspects.

    That said, I do think this is simply a companion to the animated version AND the Broadway version- both of which I love- and while it presents both in a new medium beautifully (to me) it can’t recapture the “holy shit!” element of the animated (which in itself was a HUGE technical leap forward from The Little Mermaid- and I don’t just mean the CG) or the thrill of seeing it performed live (especially when Broadway’s Belle came out of your high school drama troupe) But I do think it improves on both in the story and character departments.

  33. grimgrinningchris

    April 26th, 2017 at 5:04 am

    I don’t think anyone is ever going to be able to fix the disappointment of Beast turning back into some doofus white dude though. When they showed the Cocteau version on TCM years ago, I remember Osborne telling a story about Rita Hayworth (or maybe it was Greta Garbo) yelling “Give us back the beast!” after the transformation at the US premiere.

  34. I totally dig it, GGChris, and your argument is pretty darn persuasive.

    PS A relative of mine (via marriage) actually worked on MALEFICENT!

  35. We’re talking about Disney rehashing their old shit and nobody has yet mentioned PETE’S DRAGON from last year? Really? That was terrific. C’mon people. That’s a perfect remake, take an old movie that quite frankly is obscure (even within the Disney canon) and quite frankly not that good and do your own thing with it and crank out a good E.T.-inspired riff.

    I’m fine with these things as long as they’re decent. MALEFICENT was messy but (like Vern) I found the feminist subtext fascinating and there was some charm to the narrative clutch with the “true love” plot device. (I checked out afterwards with the CGI climax, though.) JUNGLE BOOK was fucking terrific, hell I remember watching it and being taken in and only when the temple is collapsing with King Louie and remembering oh right all this is CGI. For a good hour plus, I weirdly took what I saw on screen as matter of fact without thinking “CGI.” Branagh’s CINDERELLA feels choppy (so does MALEFICENT which apparently lost 30-40 minutes in post) but I did enjoy it as a throwback of sorts to the Hollywood studio system-era romance programmer that you could’ve gotten in the 1930s/40s during the Great Depression when that era ate up wish-fulfillment fantasies.

    As for this, this was OK. I guess what sums up this remake’s problem is that for every new addition to the story ultimately ends up not mattering if you think about it. That magic book which allows Watson to travel? Yeah funny she forgot that and just grabbed a horse instead when she has to leave. Really disappointing that this goes for the whole idea of her being an inventor, which they never reference again after the 1st act. Its funny, I was fully expecting them to pay off with it when she’s at the castle but it never does. Nevermind that Paris apartment shit that does, what exactly, have our lovers relate to each other more because gee our parents also died when we were young? That’s some BATMAN V. SUPERMAN shit right there. I hope one’s dad and the other’s mom don’t share a middle name.

    In short what worked in it was the original story beat, which is hilarious considering this is what 30+ minutes at least longer than the cartoon?

    Another funny thing: I was expecting Ewan McGregor to be the worst thing about this (I mean there is cartoonish French accents, and then there is….whatever the fuck he was doing there) and yet “Be My Guest” was the best sequence. Go figure.

    Vern – Luke Evans is good at providing the sleeze hidden under the veneer of traditional masculine heroism archetypes. But a friend of mine suggested a better casting: Dwayne Johnson.

    Yeah would’ve been weird seeing The Rock have a boner for Hermione, but still that could’ve been awesome.

  36. Also this complaining in general about Disney rehashing their greatest hits, yeah you know we had two Disney movies last year which tanked: PETE’S DRAGON (as already mentioned) and QUEEN OF KATWE. Both were good, both had good reviews (though PD’s reviews in some quarters was ecstatic) but that meant dick in the end.

    Now if the former had been a hit, Disney might’ve looked back at their vault and look for stuff to remake that actually would be creatively refreshing where a cool idea that maybe was whiffed the first time around, take another shot. The kind where the fans are scant and you don’t have to cradle their balls, just do your own thing while picking and choosing what shit from the original to keep. (Consider how the PD remake kept the rough premise of a boy and his dragon, but completely different plot. And did a very soothing cover version of a certain song from the original movie that’s the only thing most people probably remember about it.) I mean CONDORMAN isn’t good, but a cartoonist indulges his superhero fantasies with CIA/taxpayers money and work as a pseudo-parody of that genre/wish-fulfillment? There’s something to that pitch I think.

    But the PD remake bombed, so we’ll probably only get remakes of the famous Disney movies going forward because IP is King in Hollywood now.

    Then you have QUEEN OF KATWE. Disney formulaic movie (in a good way) about not just a girl, not just a black girl, but an AFRICAN black girl. And such a movie directed by a woman. It’s almost like the sort of movie that online Keyboard Warriors are always complaining about Hollywood not making enough (which they’re right) and yet it comes out and in spite of decent reviews, it was a massive bomb. (Which is impressive considering it was a low budget Disney movie really for their standards, at $15 million. That probably couldn’t even cover the cost of Robert Downey Jr.’s RV trailer on INFINITY WAR.)

    If you want different stuff than what’s being regularly served at the cinemas, do try to support (decent) stuff that’s out there. Otherwise you’ll get the same old “shit” that you’re annoyed by.

  37. I just watched a Disney cartoon from this year where Daisy and Minnie quit a race halfway through so they could go shoe shopping.

    It’s like Disney is trying to fight me.

  38. I would literally kick somebody in the nuts if it meant getting remakes of THE BLACK CAULDRON, RETURN TO OZ or SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES. They were fine when I was a kid but there was always potential for more. Since Favreau is the go-to animal guy maybe he could also direct photo real THE FOX & THE HOUND, ROBIN HOOD or OLIVER & COMPANY but they’ll probably just offer him LADY AND THE TRAMP.

  39. HEy, don’t forget Disney’s biggest box office bomb since LONE RANGER: THE FINEST HOURS, which is admittedly formulaic as fuck, but also entertaining enough for me to not hate it.

    Also PETE’s DRAGON didn’t bomb, it just heavily underperformed. (Which is industry code for “We got our money back and nobody got fired, but let’s forget that it happened”!)

  40. Grimgrinningchris

    April 27th, 2017 at 10:32 am

    RRA- the book transported her to her infant home in Paris which we’re led to believe is in a whole other part of France. She used the horse to go into town which is not far from the Beast’s castle at all.

    And I think a shared empathy for duel fucked up childhoods (where both parties are actually given time and scenes to mutually share in/about them) is a FAR easier to swallow motivation for character change (especially when it’s already been established that they were already starting to find more common ground to begin with before those revelations) than *BOOM* “we were literally JUST beating the shit out of each other- but wait, we both have moms?! And they both have the same name?!?!” I really don’t even see a comparison.

  41. I liked PETE’S DRAGON too. I like Broddie’s BLACK CAULDRON remake idea, if they still have the rights to those books. Maybe Narnia fizzling out took the luster off of the ongoing fantasy sagas, though.

    And it’s not too late for my idea of remaking THE FOX AND THE HOUND as a Hong Kong gangster movie.

  42. Pete’s Dragon was definitely a best case scenario: take an old movie that was kind of crappy and hand it to an up and coming indie director who takes the basic premise and discards the rest. I also agree that Finest Hour was a fun, kind of cheesy, old fashioned movie that I wouldn’t mind seeing more of.

    But, honestly, I have no clue what brings people into movie theaters. I have almost no desire to see a live-action remake of Beauty in the Beast, especially one that seems to track with the animated film so closely. And yet it made tons of money.

  43. grimgrinningchris

    April 27th, 2017 at 3:04 pm

    Even as a Disney apologist and unabashed fan of a lot of 70s live action Disney (The Cat From Outerspace, The Apple Dumpling Gang and the original Escape From Witch Mountain all being favorites) I think the original Pete’s Dragon is pretty much balls. “Candle On The Water” is a BEAUTIFUL song and Helen Reddy sang the shit out of it, but everything else about it feels off and the tone is all over the place- likely due to a bunch of reshoots when they decided last minute to make Elliot visible (to Pete and the audience) through the whole movie when that was’t the original intent.

    That movie was ripe to get redone. And I do like the “remake” a lot, I think it is a sweet and very pretty movie and that kid was almost as good as the kid they found to play Mowgli. I’d hold it in line with the Cinderella live action redux, which I also enjoyed a LOT, but wasn’t blown away by. Neither gave me the “HOLY SHIT!” reaction that both The Jungle Book and B&TB gave me.

    Maleficent is a strange beast since even though it considered to be the movie that kicked off this trend, it isn’t a remake but one of those flip flop revisions. And although I love it for everything that I thought it knocked out of the park, it definitely has some glaring weaknesses, dicey motivations and almost the entire fairies plot is mishandled (and I still don’t get why they changed their names from Flora, Fauna and Merriweather other than “because they could”. All that said, it is the first time that a revisionist story like that (and I do enjoy those sorts of thing when done well- but just as interesting “what if”s) totally colored any further viewings of the original which speaks to the power of Jolie’s performance and everything else it did do right.

  44. Didn’t ALICE IN WONDERLAND come first? I remember once that hit a billion Disney said: “Wait a minute! This concept is easy money.”

  45. Didn’t ALICE IN WONDERLAND come first? I remember once that hit a billion Disney said: “Wait a minute! This concept is easy money.”

  46. grimgrinningchris

    April 27th, 2017 at 5:53 pm

    It was first and then we could bring Oz The Great & Powerful into it too , but I think, despite the Disney version, the Alice books and legion of other adaptations (most also live action) make it still considered enough of its own thing that it wasn’t the same… and despite Disney also having history with Oz, it’s still not considered an inherently DISNEY property the way these others are.

  47. Whatever happened to the BLACK HOLE remake that the TRON LEGACY guy was going to do? THE BLACK HOLE seems like a good candidate for a remake (“MAXIMILIAN!”)

    And BRODDIE, I like your idea of a SOMETHING WICKED remake, not sure about RETURN TO OZ though, that movie only could have been made the way it is in the 80s.

    Though RETURN TO OZ is so fucked up that it’s even an outlier when it comes to 80s movies, that’s precisely why I love it though.

    Whatever happened to “kids movies” like SOMETHING WICKED and RETURN TO OZ that first and foremost are meant to scare the hell out of kids? Fear is an emotion that like it or not kids should have to deal with and even the classic Disney movies had frightening elements, it really bugs me how children’s media today is so bereft of scary elements.

  48. ALICE IN WONDERLAND came first but it’s kind of in a separate category because it didn’t use any designs from the animated version and was a different, inexcusably terrible story commenting on the old story. I think Lana Del Rey or somebody did a creepy trailer style cover of one of the Disney songs, but otherwise it could’ve been released by any studio. MALEFICENT, JUNGLE BOOK and BEAUTY AND THE BEAST are all specifically based on the Disney animation versions of those stories.

  49. grimgrinningchris

    April 28th, 2017 at 6:29 am

    Don’t forget WATCHER IN THE WOODS, Griff.

    And I would love a solid attempt to remake The Black Hole, and I’m all for more OZ, but I don’t think RETURN… needs a remake though- there’s still 100 story elements from the books that haven’t been represented yet and the only word in the title that sells tickets is OZ anyway.

    Wasn’t the Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter/Dark Shadows guy supposed to remake Something Wicked? What happened to that? I think the original is pretty perfect, but could do for a new one.

  50. ALICE IN WONDERLAND doesn’t really count, there’s nothing that explicitly ties it in with with the Disney film.

    grimgrinningchris – Unfortunately I haven’t seen WATCHER IN THE WOODS, I’ve been meaning to.

  51. Griff- There was CORALINE and PARANORMAN, although admittedly we’re going back five years with the more recent of the two

    Sadly I think the sickly and bland visual style of GREAT & POWERFUL would be an inevitability with any modern day OZ film, unless maybe an indie outlet somehow made a modest budget film

  52. Jareth Cutestory

    April 29th, 2017 at 7:03 am

    Majestyk – That Simpsons gag that casts the Mr. Burns in the Beast role singing his vile song, inverting his outwardly horrific appearance for inwardly irredeemable hideousness as he brags about the endangered animals he’s senselessly slaughtered for his own vanity, must have had a special resonance for you. I imagine you must also take comfort in the We Hate Movies guys ongoing campaign to redress Belushi’s oafishness. My sister has spent much of her adult life getting the stuffing beat out of her by various shitheels because her emotions were so cruelly manipulated by movies like BEAUTY & THE BEAST; she internalized the message of movies like this to such an extent that it would take a team at the Mayo Clinic to deprogram her. It’s like Disney has this uncanny ability to exploit precisely those vulnerabilities that will most fuck up little girls for life, filling their heads with wish fulfillment fantasies that are impossible to dislodge. Thanks for the poignantly articulated post.

    Grimgrinningchris – The Paper Bag Princess is a useful model on how these stories can be dragged kicking and screaming into the modern era.

    I second the recommendation for Cocteau’s film. And Philip Glass’ opera.

  53. Jareth: I’m sorry to hear about your sister. That has long been my nightmare. I have three myself, and while I can’t say I’m always super pumped about their choices in dudes, I am grateful that none of them seem to be attracted to the kind of surly brute their father was. Honestly, these crazy bitches would tear an abuser apart anyway so everyone dodged a bullet on that one.

    Now, of course, I have three nieces, so the cycle of worry starts all over again. The other day, one of them said the most glorious words an uncle can hear: “Princesses are dumb.” So there’s hope for the future.

  54. grimgrinningchris

    April 30th, 2017 at 8:05 pm

    Maybe I’m confused, but don’t see how one can praise the Cocteau version and damn the Disney version when Belle is far more passive and Beast far more demanding in the Cocteau version (every day asking her to marry him and telling her she will remain a prisoner until she agrees).

    Unless you’re strictly speaking about aesthetics. But even then, the issues that it seems like you’re upset seem to outweigh artistic merits (any version). So I guess I really AM confused.

    Or is it just since it is Disney and therefore marketed to impressionable children? Well, so was the Cocteau version. Families at least. Hell, read the prologue. Being foreign, it may have come off as more of an art film in the States, but it certainly wasn’t meant for hoity toity adults in Europe.

  55. Anybody here is watching ONCE UPON A TIME and willing to admit it? If I would believe in guilty pleasures, this (and 90s Eurodance) would be the only one for me, but I’m not ashamed. Although the show feels most of the time, like some 13 years old Tumblr girl blackmailed someone into turning her crazy, but surprisingly unpornographic fanfiction, into a weekly TV show.

    I’m bringing this up, because in their version “The Beast” is actually Rumplestiltskin (Played by Robert Carlyle, who would’ve been nominated for an Emmy at least three times, if the Emmys would still care for Network shows without a laugh track), who also happens to be the son of Peter Pan (who is a villain with a shadow that is voiced by Marylin Manson!) and the crocodile, that took Captain Hook’s hand (“Crocodile” is more of a metaphorical nickname in this case.) and I thought I should mention it.

    Also they get bonus points for not giving Belle (who is just Belle, without any twists) and her Beast a happy end (yet), because Rumplestiltskin is more or less a drug addict, who always finds ways and excuses to return to his drug of having dark magic powers, which at one point even made Belle break up with him and date Will Scarlett.

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