Review: I once wrote an abridged history of Beauty and the Beast roots on my review of Christophe Gans’ La Belle et La Bête. How this beautiful French lore has evolved, added more insight and backstories, and represented social issues from time to time alone has already made an intriguing tale. While adaptations and re-imaginings have altered it from the root, there’s one thing that never fades: the magic.
I can’t still see ‘the whys’ of Disney’s decision to remake their Renaissance animation with a live-action feature; yet, I can put aside that concerns. They’ve done it well with Cinderella (2014) by having courage and being kind and staying true to its root; and The Jungle Book (2016) by fulfilling the bare necessities. And for Beauty and the Beast, I can say that this live-action re-telling is not a must, but it’s necessary.
Same as Cinderella, this tale is also a faithful re-telling of the animated classic. Director Bill Condon, (Gods and Monsters, Dreamgirls, Mr. Holmes and the last two Twilights films) working on script by Stephen Chbosky (The Perks of Being A Wallflower) and Evan Spiliotopoulos (The Huntsman: Winter’s War and other direct-to-video Disney’s animation), crafts the film on the classic prototype almost on every aspect – highlighting all the major notes and adding some fresh idea here and there to make it more relevant. Good thing is: majority of this creative decision works. Bad thing is: it stays too deep on the comfort zone that it makes no immediate impact but awe.
You can bet it’s still the old story – possibly the earliest and most famous Stockholm syndrome case – and that’s fine. In an additional backstory, a spoiled prince charming (Dan Stevens, more to Downtown Abbey than Legion), is cursed into a CGI feral beast along with his castle and dwellers (for not doing anything about his arrogance). The curse can only be lift if the beast finally learns to love and, in return, be loved back. Then, come Belle (Emma Watson, the first and only choice to represent Disney’s princess in real life), a peculiar damsel, who lives in a conservative village with her father (Kevin Kline).
When her father is captured by the Beast for trespassing and stealing (this one almost resembles the French version), Belle gives herself to get locked up in exchange of her father’s freedom. Entrapped in the Beast’ lair, Belle soon learns things about her captor; yes, he’s another bookdragon same as her. Literature finally becomes an entrance to this eternal story of love and acceptance.
While in the Beast’s castle, Belle interacts with enchanted objects – from Lumiere the candelabra, Mr. Cogsworth – the clock, to mother and son, Mrs. Potts and Chip – which often steal your attention. Yet, the magic doesn’t stop there; many other living objects also present – ones from the old film to ones originally made for this film. Meanwhile in the village, storms rises as self-attracted gentleman, Gaston (Luke Evans) – accompanied by a gay subordinate, LeFou (Josh Gad) – becomes more obsessed to himself and to the picture of him being a hero.
Magic has driven the story forward, but even when the enchantment fades, the exquisite taste lingers. You can’t expect some striking takes on pre-existing conflict; moreover, some additional insight isn’t massively giving sudden impact to the storytelling. If you’re sticking to the idea that technology finally can make this ‘tale as old of time’ a more alive, you will be satisfied; but not if you expect an answer why this story needs to get a remake. One thing that will satisfy you is the mixing of classing songs and new songs (and arrangement), which makes this enchanteur more enchanting (there’s a new song by Josh Groban, to finally sing Beast heart out).
Feel the goosebumps when Emma Thompson’s Mrs. Potts starts singing ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and the couple starts dancing together. Feel yourself mesmerized by the melody and the whole magic because there’s so much magic in Beauty and the Beast. Even when the enchantment fades, the exquisite taste lingers. Even when there’s no answer, the heart is contented.
Beauty and the Beast (2017)
This review is sponsored by BookMyShow Indonesia