At First Glance: “Beauty and the Beast (2017)”

Another year, another month, another conversation about a live-action remake of a classic animated film. Much like with cinematic universes, and the new films in that big world, each year seems to be destined to have a film come out every single year. There’s no stopping them, and there’s hardly any time to take a breather before the next one comes out. This may be the new normal (for some time now), but I’m not ready to fully welcome it in. Maybe next year, but I doubt it.

The upcoming Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures film “Beauty and the Beast”, looks beautiful in so many ways, but that’s all we’ve been given in this teaser.

This romantic fantasy musical (yes, musical) stars Emma Watson (“Colonia”, “Regression”), Dan Stevens (“Criminal Activities”, “SuperMansion”), Luke Evans (upcoming “The Girl on the Train”, “High Rise”), Emma Thompson (upcoming “Bridget Jones’s Baby”, “Burnt”), Ewen McGregor (upcoming films “Our Kind of Traitor”, “American Pastoral”), Ian McKellen (upcoming “The Dresser”, “Vicious”), Kevin Kline (“Bob’s Burgers”, “Ricki and then Flash”), Josh Gad (“Angry Birds”, “Sofia the First”), and Stanley Tucci (“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2”, “Spotlight”).

The film is directed by Bill Condon (“Mr. Holmes”, “The Fifth Estate”) and written by Evan Spilotopoulos (“The Huntsman: Winter’s War”, “Hercules (2014)”) and Stephen Chbosky (“The Perks of Being a Wallflower”, “Jericho”). It is based on the animated film of the same name by Linda Woolverton.

The film is expected to open on March 17, 2017.
This teaser is quite literally a teaser. There’s nothing in this to make any judgements. Point in fact, if I were to talk much more in this paragraph, I’d have nothing left to say afterwards. Perhaps I should stop. I will in a moment. While I’m not fully over the moon about this film being made, or any of the other live-action remakes made, in production, or in the works, I’m oddly somewhat excited about this. It’s a weird sentiment I have, especially as I absolutely loved “Cinderella (2015)”, and can see it on my shelf, from where I sit. But I don’t think it was a film we needed. Instead of the company looking for original content, in any form, it’s just mining its own catalogue. There’s something very sad about that. Adding to the conflicting feelings I have, is the fact that, like with this film, I’ll eventually see a few of the live-action remakes. I don’t why, maybe curiosity. Whatever it is, I’m certainly a bit more curious about this film than before.

What this teaser largely contains, which isn’t a bad thing, is a lot of beauty. There’s never a shot not shown, even if it’s not going to be in the actual film, which I can’t tell, that’s not beautifully captured. The castle just amazed me. If those interiors can look that gorgeous already, I wonder what the whole rest of the film will look like. The person who cut this teaser, was really aware of what was needed for this. And it’s because of this, even the Disney logo is beautifully done, and not just the logo, which is what we could’ve had. And then, finally, we get a beautiful shot of the rose and slowly see Watson mystified by this single flower encased in a jar. The perfect, and not surprising (okay, not when you think about it), tag line, “Be Our Guest” followed by the release date, ends the teaser and it too is just as beautiful. Maybe the creatives in this film are really trying to show us that they’ve aimed for a high quality film, and aren’t just overstating half the film’s title or one of the lead character’s traits.

And that’s it. That’s all there is really. But, on the plus side, even though I’m not pleased by some of it, there are familiar aspects featured. It’s not just the retelling of a classic animated film, or a story from a long time ago. No, what’s featured in this, which I’m kind of hoping isn’t in the final film, are actual lines of dialogue lifted from the 1991 film. While this may not be plagiarism, in any way, shape or form, it’s still a bit disappointing. Apparently the writers couldn’t be bothered to come up with their own dialogue, and had to use that which already existed. I know it’s only a brief exchange, but it does have me a bit worried for this overall film. The one thing that did surprise me, and excite me a bit, was the bit of score featured. It’s the same music that can be heard at the beginning of the animated film, and I was actually okay with this. It captured the beauty that this film will have and gave it some sort of mystical feel and allows for fantasy to enter into it. At least there’s one positive.

This last bit is all stuff I learned after watching this trailer, and prepping this piece. I somehow missed any news items on exactly what type of film this would be. I knew it was a remake, and who was going to be in it, as well as the other creatives, but that’s about it. So, you can imagine my surprise when I’m reading articles online and the Wikipedia page for this film, about how there’d be familiar songs and score from the original writer and composer, but also new songs. Songs? What kind of film is this? Apparently, as I said at the top, it’s going to be a musical as well. Oh dear. Now I’m even more worried for this film. There’s already enough things to be concerned about with this film, but now there’s songs and dance. I’m not sure I’m ready for this. This is one time where I’m hating that this teaser has next to nothing to offer me. I also feel that this film has a bit more creative risk going on, and could easily be hurt by critics and fans because of it.

When it comes to remakes or reboots, I’m really in the middle of the gauge when it comes to deciding on whether or not I like them. Most of the time they’re crap and/or simply unnecessary.. Somehow, in those instances, I’m completely against them, but a few squeak by and surprise me. Other times, I’m completely on board! It’s rare, but it happens. Sometimes it’s a progressive change. I may be skeptical for most of the time, but by the time the project is released, I can see why I’ll like it. This film is going to be one that slowly grows on me, and more likely than not, will have me really excited for it come next year. However, I still don’t think we need it. Strange thought, yes, but one that makes complete sense too.

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