This morning another trailer for the upcoming Beauty and the Beast live-action remake dropped. Since some of you were pretty keen on what I thought of the first trailer, I thought I’d give you my impression of this new one. You already know what I think of the original animated classic. Let’s see if this gives any hints as to whether this new adaptation of a tale as old as time measures up or not.
We open on another shot of the castle, and this time we see more of the grounds – snowy open fields, mazes, crumbling walls and statues, even a closer look at the torn up portrait inside…which isn’t as torn up as I thought it should be, but meh, there’s more important things to nitpick over. Again, I love this version of the prologue music that they’re playing in these trailers.
Someone rides through the courtyard on a white horse – it’s Kevin Kline as Maurice! Ok, gonna fangirl for a bit here, I love that they cast him in this role. Kline is one of my favorite comedic actors (I’ll get into why when I review A Fish Called Wanda eventually ) and the fact that he’s in this movie, especially because he’s very choosy when it comes to what films he’s in, means that there’s something about this part that’s very well-written, a comic goldmine, or both. Sadly we don’t see him do much in the trailer apart from being captured and be supportive of Belle, but I have hope that he’ll be given a lot to do in the movie.
So Maurice picks a white rose and the Beast comes crashing down on him and WAIT WHAT?!
I’m sorry, I have to get this off my chest before I go any further. One of the things that made the animated Beauty and the Beast so great was that it improved upon aspects of the original fairy tale, one of them being the reason why Belle rescues her father in the first place. In the Disney one, Maurice was locked away because the Beast thought he was trespassing and “came to stare at the Beast”, not to mention he very likely believed that he would reveal his existence to the world if he let him go. In the story and nearly every other adaptation, it’s because he picked a flower without his permission. Is this flower important? No. It’s just a rose, no different from any other garden variety. You could guess that this rose is magical and may be connected to the Beast’s life in some way, hence his rage when a stranger takes it, but A: there are few adaptations that take advantage of that plot twist, and B: there’s the little fact that this Beast already HAS one of those enchanted roses in the West Wing. It’s kind of hard to make the Beast likable if he’s willing to imprison and/or possibly kill an old man and hold his daughter hostage over a flower. At least in Robin McKinley’s Beauty or the tv movie starring George C. Scott and his wife (which you should definitely check out if you’re a fan of the fairy tale or the actor by the way), the Beast flat-out admits to Beauty once she arrives at the castle that the “daughter-or-die” thing was just a way of getting her to come over and break the spell, that he was going to let her father go unharmed if she didn’t sacrifice herself. I understand the desire to try to pay homage to the story and Cocteau’s classic film, and I have a few friends who love both versions and are excited to see it here, but the point I’m trying to make is that they had no need to do that in the first place. It over-complicates an already simple first act beat and makes it harder to root for our protagonist. I can only hope that those other roses do have a significant meaning that would warrant an overreaction like the Beast’s.
…I’m sorry, I was reviewing something wasn’t I?
Belle comes in looking for her father, and it follows the original scene rather closely. He tells her to run, Beast shows up in the shadows and offers an exchange, Belle asks him to come into the light and is startled by what she sees. There are two things here I’d like to mention – one is that it looks like Belle is holding a wand in this scene, and seeing how this is Emma Watson I can’t help but think in the back of my mind “Why doesn’t she just hit the Beast with Expelliarmus, unlock the cell with Alohamora, grab her dad and apparate out of there?” (yes, I’m kind of a Harry Potter nerd if you haven’t already guessed). Second, in one of my illustration classes in senior year, I took a turn at trying to storyboard the Broadway version of this scene for film and everyone – teacher included – said it was completely pointless because we’ve only got the animated version and no other. Well, Class of ’13 and esteemed Professor –
Now the theme music kicks in, and I love it even more. Even though it’s clearly made just for the trailer what with the heavy bass, percussion and choir as the editing gets more frantic near the end, it’s a pretty kickass rendition of the classic song.
We have Beast looking at Belle through the mirror (which could use some cleaning up if the frost encircling it is any indication) and let’s talk about the Beast for a moment. While I would have loved to have seen a practical/CGI-hybrid version of Glen Keane’s awesome design, it’s not that bad. Could have been uglier, but not bad. The mo-cap is good, even better than what we saw for Vincent Cassel’s Beast in the recent French remake, and I do appreciate that they did something different while building off of Keane’s Beast. They kept the human eyes, which is important, gateway to the soul and all that.
Then we have the enchanted objects.
This was the red flag for a lot of people. When pictures of Cogsworth and Lumiere showed up online they were almost universally hated because the designs for them were, and let’s be honest, from deep in the bowels of the Uncanny Valley. I’m willing to overlook some things for the sake of CGI and time and such, but wow they looked creepy. Thankfully those images were revealed to be concept art so this trailer provides our first look at how the objects will appear in the film.
Again, I would have liked seeing some practical costuming/makeup because the Broadway show provided a great template for that -heck, Lumiere looks almost exactly like his Broadway counterpart but tiny and golden – but the CGI isn’t awful and even though they don’t look exactly like the animated characters, they still act like them. I don’t entirely buy Ian McKellen’s deep baritone with wound-up Cogsworth, but Emma Thompson’s Mrs. Potts I’m all over (I don’t even mind that they moved her face to the side instead of the spout). Also, is that -no, that’s not Daniel Huttlestone as Chip (dang it!)
Strangely enough, it looks like the objects take Belle to a new room other than the dungeon instead of the Beast, so fingers crossed that Beast got too ashamed to go up there and take Belle himself and decided to send the objects to do it, instead of him being a jerk and leaving her there intentionally.
We’ve got some of the wolf fight (bring it on!!) Luke Evan’s Gaston rallying up the angry mob (poor haystack still gets burned up in this one), and some flashes of Belle/Beast moments I’d love to see expanded – out with the horse (Phillipe?) in the snow, showing her the library (sadly not as ginormous as the animated one) while Beast says something cryptic about heart’s desire, the arrival of the angry mob intercut as they waltz in the ballroom, the battle between Gaston and the Beast, and it looks pretty awesome, but through it all one thing concerns me –
It was announced that this remake, unlike the previous ones, will not only be retaining the film’s songs but also adding some new ones (sadly not from the Broadway show), and yet nobody sings anything. Is anyone else getting sick of Disney misleading us like this? Tangled and Frozen proved that people want to see Disney musicals again; there’s no need to trick us into going like in the past. We get hints of musical numbers like Gaston’s song in the tavern and some waltzing people, but nobody sings a note. I’ve got faith in Kevin Kline’s pipes, he was the Pirate King for pete’s sake, but everyone apart from Audra McDonald and Josh Gad…I’m praying that the reason why they’re keeping us from hearing anyone’s vocal prowess yet is because they’re misleading us into thinking it’s a music-less adaptation and not because they don’t match the standards of the original cast.
Despite all my nitpicks, however, this is a pretty exciting trailer. I’m serious. As much as people have their fingers crossed that it will suck and end the rampant trend of live-action remakes, this trailer offers plenty of hope that it might actually be good. Regardless of the changes, it’s not going to take away the impact of the original movie or erase it off the map. The acting looks and sounds pretty good, Luke Evans and Josh Gad are spot-on as Gaston and LeFou, and I’m excited to hear the new music.
I’m eager to hear what you think of the trailer. Do you think it’s good? Are you excited for the film in March? Let me know in the comments!