Why Beauty and the Beast won't work as a live-action film


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Disney's live-action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast is set to hit theaters on March 17, and oddly enough, people are excited. Is nostalgia blinding viewers to the fact that the movie will be awful?

Here's a list of some things that are great:
  1. The original animated Beauty and the Beast from 1991.
  2. The 1994 Broadway musical adaptation of that film
  3. Emma Watson
  4. Josh Gad, as a sidekick
  5. Sir Ian McKellen, in movies with heavy CGI
Here's a list of things that involves all of those things, that won't be great:
  1. Disney's live-action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast
I know what you're thinking: all of those things are individually great, so how could they be bad when you put them together? Here's why Beauty and the Beast is going to be the biggest peanut butter and flaming hot Cheetos sandwich of 2017.

Above is a clip from the song "Belle," which was released over the weekend and currently sits at #3 on YouTube's "Trending" list. People seemingly aren't put off by the fact that it just looks bad. I don't even know where to start with all the things that are wrong in this video, but I'll try.

The main reason that Beauty and the Beast was so successful as an animated movie and Broadway musical was the camp factor. The beauties and beasts of the 90's were ridiculous and over-the-top as all Hell. The live version will not only attempt to make these wonderful, campy AF characters realistic, but it seems that Belle herself will be hyper-realized in a world that remains campy as ever. Just watch the clip, where Emma Watson (as Belle) interacts with Monsieur Jean, who has "lost something again," but "can't remember what."

This is just one example (from the not-even-sixty-second clip) of an extremely human, realistic, live Belle interacting with a campy cardboard cutout of a background character. The actors doing the chorus of "Bonjour" at the beginning just seem bored. The schoolchildren are just going through the motions, seemingly only there to amplify Belle's existence.

And while the background characters in an animated film do mainly exist to amplify the main character, in a live-action movie, you need something more. The production design, blasé and empty, echoes the fact that there is no background action, other than people looking at Belle. This is not a fully-realized world, it is a facade, like the grocery store full of fake fruits that James Franco's character discovers in The Interview. The problem, then, lies not with Watson, but the world around her.

Emma Watson, you're incredible. My roommate once sold you some Christmas ornaments at a Manhattan Pottery Barn, and he said you were lovely. I loved you as Hermione Granger, even though I've always been more of a Ginny Weasley type of guy. You clearly had the best intentions when you decided to play Belle, and it's not your fault that there are severe flaws in direction and production design. You did everything you could.

There are several ways for this to play out from here:

  1. People realize that Beauty and the Beast is going to be garbage (in spite of the lovely Ms. Watson's best attempts) and don't see it, it's a box office flop, and Disney stops adapting their animated classics into live movies (not likely)
  2. Blinded by nostalgia, millions flock to Beauty and the Beast on opening weekend. After viewing the film (which they declare "a hit"), Disney decides to accelerate its live-action movie plans, moving the Childish Gambino Lion King up to 2017
  3. Emma Watson reads this article and realizes she's better than all of this, finds the writer who made her realize it, and they live happily ever after (really not likely)

In all seriousness, we're not optimistic about Disney's live-action Beauty and the Beast. Stay tuned to Popdust for our review, unless all our friends bail on us again like they did when we wanted to see The Great Wall.