Reel Matt

This blog started as my movie marathon — watching a movie a day for a whole year — and has continued as a place for me to write reviews about movies, TV, and various other items.



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Beauty and the Beast

Film #236


Belle, whose father is imprisoned by the Beast, offers herself instead and discovers her captor to be an enchanted prince.

Year 1, Day 236

BEFORE: This is one of the biggest days in the animation chain as I’m finally getting around to seeing Beauty and the Beast. I never got around to seeing this as a kid, but unlike Alice in Wonderland it wasn’t due to a lack of interest, it just never was a film my family had. But now the opportunity has arisen and I can see the first (and one of only two) animated film ever to be nominated for Best Picture.

AFTER: Beauty and the Beast has a very heartfelt message and it is executed well. But as I’ll get into in more depth, there wasn’t anything that amazed me. It was just ho-hum; nothing bad but held back from that next level (read: Best Picture).

The two elements I seem to be focusing on for these animated films are characters and story. Well in Beauty and the Beast, the best character by far is the Beast (Robby Benson). Out of all the characters, the Beast seems the most human. What do I mean by that? The Beast is really a Prince trapped in a beast’s body because he denied a woman shelter who turned out to be a beautiful “enchantress”. As a result he needs to work hard at things that come naturally to others, and characters who struggle generally are more appealing because you have something to root for. You want to see the Beast improve and fall in love whereas with Belle (Paige O’Hara) there isn’t as strong of a connection. You’re still rooting for her safety, that she can help her father Maurice (Rex Everhart), and she can find love herself. But, at least for me, Belle is a character I’m taken aback from. There’s nothing to get me fully invested in her well-being, yet there’s also nothing that makes me hate her character.

In terms of story I thought for the most part it was well done. I especially liked the prologue at the beginning explaining the Prince’s/Beast’s backstory and how he got to the place he’s at. The rest of the story, the whole love story between Belle and the Beast and the obstacles that must be overcome was very touching. It has a very important moral and it was conveyed in a pretty straightforward way but not too in-your-face that it’s overbearing. A complaint I do have is with regards to time. You really don’t get a sense of how long it takes for events to occur. For example, how long is Belle imprisoned by the Beast? You do get a sense of time elapsing so it’s not as if Belle’s infatuation or the Beast’s domestication is too sudden and unbelievable, but having some sense of time would go a long way.

I can see how Beauty and the Beast is fantastic to some people and can even understand the Best Picture nomination. But I just didn’t form a strong enough connection with the characters or the story to have the same overwhelming emotion for the film. To me, it was more of an average film, nothing that I was strongly opposed to and nothing to have me emotional invested and wanting to watch it again and again.

RATING: 4 out of 5