Beauty and the Beast (2017) Blu-ray Review
The most beautiful Stockholm syndrome story ever told. I kid!…somewhat.
If you have just awaken from a cyrogenic sleep dating before 1991, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST is a live action, nearly shot for shot, remake of a Disney animated favorite by the same name. Except for some reason the creators thought adding 45 minutes would better improve the Academy Award Best Picture nominee. Be prepared for my unpopular opinion.
The tale is exactly the same for the most part. Belle takes her father’s place after being imprisoned by a beast in his mystical castle with talking furniture. Their relationship blossoms and we all learn a valuable lesson about how beauty is on the inside.
The opening musical number, “Belle,” still holds strong today as one of Disney’s absolute best. The camera work and choreography matches the energy and in fact may carry a bit more weight in live-action, knowing the difficulty of planning and timing. But it’s the song that is the true hero of the scene and the film for that matter. All the known classics are here: “Be Our Guest,” “Gaston,” “Something There,” “Beauty and the Beast,” and “The Mob Song,” which should excite the nostalgia in parents everywhere who knew the original as a child.
So what does the 45 minute extra runtime include? A few forgettable songs, including Beast belting a completely out of place solo “Evermore” and some stretched out getting-to-know you scenes, which were masterfully covered in a quick montage from the original. There’s also a dark backstory to what happened to Belle’s mother for all the kids to enjoy. While the relationship building drags on a
bit long, extremely too long, be our guest to take a long nap long, it is nice that the time frame is stretched longer so the two don’t appear to fall in love within a two day span. Likewise, Gaston is established a little more evil, which makes more sense in order to be the villain. However, neither of these pros to the story are necessary to lengthen the film from one hour and twenty-four minutes to TWO HOURS AND NINE MINUTES!
On a positive note, the production is absolutely amazing and beautiful. The costuming and sets are gorgeous and it is a fairly impressive feat to imitate an animated film nearly shot for shot to perfection. Emma Watson as Belle is enchanting and aside from the Beast’s distracting digital facial expressions (played by Dan Stevens from Downton Abbey), he looks… well, not the best.
It’s probably important to note that the all-star supporting cast includes: Luke Evans as Gaston, Josh Gad as LeFou, Kevin Kline as Belle’s father, Ewan McGregor as Lumiere the candlestick, Ewan McGregor as Gogsworth the clock, Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts, Audra McDonald as Madame Garderobe, Stanley Tucci as Maestro Cadenze, Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Plumette, and young Nathan Mack as Chip. Clearly enjoying their work, everyone is exquisite in their respective roles.
Director Bill Condon has not been a favorite of mine with recent films like DREAMGIRLS, THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN – PART 1 and PART 2, THE FIFTH ESTATE, and MR. HOLMES. Condon is also slated to direct BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN in Universal’s revival of the old monster movies, which isn’t off to a great start with THE MUMMY. Condon follows a detailed original blueprint for BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, which doesn’t seem too difficult. The crew does a fantastic job reproducing the film, but I can’t credit the director for following a paint-by-numbers booklet.
Aside from the film experiment standpoint to recreate a popular animated film so wonderfully, what is the point of making this film? The production is excellent and the actors are terrific (particularly Gad as LeFou) but everything I like about it, I like in the original. We’ve reviewed the animated BEAUTY AND THE BEAST twice (read 1 and 2) and I am in full support of those high accolades. If given the choice, I will choose the 1991 animated version of the story and save myself 45 minutes of the day.
Last year, Disney remade THE JUNGLE BOOK, which offered some interesting visuals and decisions that veered from the original source. I appreciate the somewhat original take on the popular film and I hope Disney’s future adaptations do the same. But judging by the box office numbers of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, which let me repeat is nearly the exact same thing only much longer for no logical reason, I’m probably not going to get my wish. Am I the only one who sees that they are repackaging the same thing under the pretense that it’s new? Clearly I’m out of touch because while everyone else couldn’t shell out money quick enough for this remake, my biggest question is – Why watch this?
Video: (MPEG-4 AVC, 1080P, 2.39:1) Disney never disappoints with their visuals and this is no different. Spectacular color clarity.
Audio: (DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1) The music and sound mixing is superb in the Disney presentation.
Enchanted Table Read (13:31): Not quite your typical table read, using singing, dancing and artwork to highlight moments.
A Beauty of a Tale (27:08): This a fairly thorough making-of featurette with behind-the-scene footage covering the elaborate production, design, digital effects, and even some of the decisions involving the songs. They also use the animated classic as comparisons when showing how they used the digital recreation of the Beast
The Women Behind Beauty and the Beast (5:17): Emma Watson leads us through a nice piece highlighting all the women working on the film and how they are a positive influence.
From Song to Screen: Making the Musical Sequences (13:26): This goes into detail in creating some of the film’s favorite songs onto the big screen.
Extended Song (4:08): “Days in the Sun”
Deleted Scenes (6:23): After an introduction from director Bill Condon, there are 8 total scenes: Gaston Courts Belle, Bread and Jam for Agathe, Storming the Ice Gates, Lumiere Torches LeFou, Monsieur Toilette, Cogsworth Rescues Lumiere, Treacle for the Lasses, and LeFou and Monsieur Toilette Reunite.
Making a Moment with Celine Dion (3:24): Celine Dion discusses her singing involvement with the original and new version of the film.
“Beauty and the Beast” Music Video by Ariana Grande and John Legend (4:02)
Making the Music Video: “Beauty and the Beast” (2:07)
Disney Song Selection (33:09): Karaoke versions of all the songs from the film.